Main meanings of set in English

: set1set2set3


Pronunciation /sɛt/

See synonyms for set

Translate set into Spanish

verbverb sets, verb setting, set

  • 1with object and usually with adverbial Put, lay, or stand (something) in a specified place or position.

    ‘Delaney set the mug of tea down’
    • ‘Catherine set a chair by the bed’
    • ‘Teddy suddenly stood, setting his coffee cup onto the tray as Christopher and Sara looked to him.’
    • ‘She stood up after setting her tea cup down on a coaster and walked to the coffee table.’
    • ‘Then she stood to set the dish with its few remaining crumbs back on the tray.’
    • ‘He stood up, setting his half-empty mug of cooling coffee down on the table.’
    • ‘David made it fast, took his feet off the desk and stood up, setting the toe of his right shoe on a small lever under his carpet.’
    • ‘She then suddenly stood up and set her empty plate and cup near her handbag here.’
    • ‘She stood on the chair and set the vase at one corner of the top of the cabinet.’
    • ‘This time, she looked at her watch and stood up, setting money on the table top.’
    • ‘He stood, setting his wine glass down on the coffee table and taking a long drag of his cigarette.’
    • ‘Jeremy slides into his chair and Kasey sets the bucket with a dull thud on the floor.’
    • ‘She sat down in her designated chair and pulled out her cello, setting her sheet music on the stand and then tuning her instrument.’
    • ‘He sat down and Blair pulled his chair closer, setting his coffee cup on the edge of the desk.’
    • ‘I stood slowly off of my bed, pushing my sheets off of my legs and setting my coffee mug on my desk.’
    • ‘She sets the rest of her bagel down and stands up to face Brian.’
    • ‘Alex took her by the arm and led her across the course to where he had set his observation station.’
    • ‘She stood up and nodded, opening her briefcase and setting the valuable papers inside then closing it up with a click.’
    • ‘She put a can under the tap, filling it, dumping it, and setting it top-down on the counter next to the sink.’
    • ‘Brushing myself, off I stood up and untied the baby carrier setting the baby and carrier on the table.’
    • ‘I shook my head, setting one of the cans on the nearest piece of furniture, and opened the other.’
    • ‘She set the book down on the table next to it and walked over to one of the shelves.’
    put, place, put down, lay, lay down, deposit, position, settle, station
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1be setBe situated or fixed in a specified place or position.
      ‘the village was set among olive groves on a hill’
      • ‘Santa Barbara is set among rolling hills and vineyards that were beautifully captured in the film Sideways.’
      • ‘The holiday village is about four miles from Penrith and set among more than 400 acres of woodland and lakes.’
      • ‘The tasteful and triangular green is set bang in the middle of the large village.’
      • ‘An arc of deep locks, set among lawns, lowers it at last to join its western river.’
      • ‘They will stay the night in the village of Gite, before heading on to Tamda, set among white rocks.’
      be situated, be located, lie, stand, be sited, be perched
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Represent (a story, play, film, or scene) as happening at a specified time or in a specified place.
      ‘a private-eye novel set in Berlin’
      • ‘But he sets the film's first act here, and it's obvious where his sympathies lie.’
      • ‘The seventeenth century Oxford where the crime writer sets his substantial historical novel is in some ways very similar to Morson's city.’
      • ‘By setting the film at this time and place, he illustrated that Sade's fantasies had in fact become a horrifying reality.’
      • ‘The director chose his season well in setting Turning Paige near the end of winter.’
      • ‘If it provides some anxiousness in the viewer why not set the film there.’
      • ‘But it is perhaps the only choice for Mulan in the specific historical context in which the author sets the story.’
      • ‘If the film wasn't set almost 70 years after abolition, you could almost buy it.’
      • ‘Her films are set very much in the present, and their focus is microscopic.’
      • ‘The film will be set and shot in Beijing and in the wealthy southern city of Shenzhen.’
      • ‘The film is actually set just over one weekend in the characters' lives.’
      • ‘The film is set during the 1930s, at an unnamed school, a thinly disguised version of Eton.’
      • ‘The film is set at a time when an abrupt climate change has cataclysmic consequences for the entire planet.’
      • ‘Mill Road, where the story is set, is far from the research and learning that goes on way beyond.’
      • ‘You'll even be able to state where you'd prefer a story to be set: in a mythical or a real place.’
      • ‘The movie is set against the backdrop of Apollo 11's landing on the moon.’
      • ‘It stands to reason that had the series been set today, Laura would have had a weblog, not a diary.’
      • ‘His last film, Dirty Pretty Things, was set among London's exploited illegal immigrants.’
      • ‘It's a very funny black comedy of manners set among the south London demimonde.’
    3. 1.3Mount a precious stone in (something, typically a piece of jewellery)
      ‘a bracelet set with emeralds’
      • ‘On his right wrist he wore the silver bracelet set with lapis stones, and on each of his little fingers, the gold rings.’
    4. 1.4Mount (a precious stone) in something.
      ‘a huge square-cut emerald set in platinum’
      • ‘The diamonds have been set close to each other to give them a solitaire look.’
      • ‘She kept the original, which was set into a tiepin for my father in law.’
      adorn, ornament, decorate, embellish, deck, bedeck
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    5. 1.5Printing Arrange (type) as required.
      • ‘the compositors refused to set the type for an editorial’
    6. 1.6Printing Arrange the type for (a piece of text)
      ‘article headings will be set in Times fourteen point’
      • ‘The names were set in 6-point type to fit in the six panels for publication on Sunday, May 30.’
    7. 1.7Prepare (a table) for a meal by placing cutlery, crockery, etc. on it in their proper places.
      ‘she set the table and began breakfast’
      • ‘Let your child help with meals by choosing foods, preparing food and setting the table.’
      • ‘He opened the door for her and ushered her outside where a wrought iron table was set for a meal.’
      • ‘I should have asked if he thinks setting a proper table takes no talent!’
      • ‘Luckily, Robin came back and informed us that the table had been set and it was time to dig in.’
      • ‘The large glass dining room table has been meticulously set by Renate, the maid.’
      • ‘Dinner was to be in the Monarch Room where the dinner tables were so elegantly set.’
      • ‘Ryan laughed a little and then stood up, and we walked downstairs to find Loretta setting the table.’
      • ‘Jim missed the days before Beth had gotten married and stopped setting the table, though he knew it was peevish of him.’
      lay, prepare, arrange, make ready
      View synonyms
    8. 1.8Bell Ringing Move (a bell) so that it rests in an inverted position ready for ringing.
      • ‘the ringer gradually increases the swing until the bell is balanced or set’
    9. 1.9Cause (a hen) to sit on eggs.
      • ‘you had to set the clucking hens’
    10. 1.10Put (a seed or plant) in the ground to grow.
      ‘I set the plants in shallow hollows to facilitate watering’
      • ‘Plants set too deep or too shallow may start growth but will lack vigor and may die.’
    11. 1.11Sailing Put (a sail) up in position to catch the wind.
      ‘a safe distance from shore all sails were set’
      • ‘The sailor merrily trotted off to go and do something else, possibly ease a downhaul or help set a sail.’
      • ‘It is hard to get going again, hard to get the sails up and set them after the beatings we got.’
      • ‘Being no flimsy dinghy, this sailboat required a lot of muscle to set so much sail.’
  • 2with object and usually with adverbial Put or bring into a specified state.

    ‘the Home Secretary set in motion a review of the law’
    • ‘the hostages were set free’
    • ‘The troops were on their way home a little earlier than planned, and the hostage has been set free.’
    • ‘Enormous plumes of choking black smoke fill the sky where the oil has been set alight.’
    • ‘I write the opening paragraph, which sets everything into motion.’
    • ‘Hotel staff have told Scotland on Sunday that the man can be seen with matches deliberately setting the curtain ablaze.’
    • ‘Then set everyone else free to save or spend to their heart's desire.’
    • ‘The setting sun set the haze aglow like icy blood, and Rupert gave a shiver.’
    • ‘They say if you love somebody than you have got to set them free.’
    • ‘But it is also interesting how much a single leader can set in motion.’
    • ‘The masses of flesh, once set in motion, were hard to stop.’
    • ‘The sound of her voice and the look in her eyes set his body aflame.’
    • ‘When Carlos ordered him out of his house, he returned and set it aflame.’
    • ‘I'm very honored in my position to set music in motion and to help guide it through with the orchestra.’
    • ‘In those circumstances, it is right that the parties should bear our costs of setting the matter right and putting a proper factual position before the court.’
    • ‘But it hasn't stopped them setting the new media world on fire.’
    • ‘Rather, being divorced has set both him and his wife free to do whatever they want.’
    • ‘The felled timber and leaves are piled high in 1km rows as far as the eye can see, ready to be set alight.’
    • ‘Her heart needed to be set at rest over whether she would ever see him face to face or not.’
    • ‘They set the stage afire with their foot movements.’
    • ‘Police believe dissidents deliberately set the car ablaze in the knowledge that someone would contact the emergency services.’
    • ‘Maybe they know I don't know and are setting me adrift purposely.’
    start, begin, activate, institute, initiate, launch, get under way, get going, get in operation, get functioning, get working, get off the ground, get the ball rolling, set the ball rolling, start the ball rolling
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1with object and present participle Cause (someone or something) to start doing something.
      ‘the incident set me thinking’
      • ‘Goods being offered at ultra-low prices should always set alarm bells ringing.’
      • ‘The rising oil price is setting pulses racing among economists.’
      • ‘He turns a phrase that sets you thinking.’
      • ‘This in turn sets me thinking about the contrast between his domestic style and his current foreign policy.’
      • ‘There is just one thing that sometimes sets me thinking: amid all the rush and fuss do we ever think of why Easter is so important?’
      • ‘Another has just opened this week at Hawes which is what set me thinking about this stretch between Colne and Skipton.’
      • ‘His entry on his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has set me thinking.’
      • ‘This set me thinking about whether you could have a comedy without jokes.’
      • ‘That set him thinking on how he was able to string his successes time and again.’
      • ‘It was what the soldiers at the airport said about their wives that set me thinking about this.’
      • ‘So that set me thinking, who would be my top five players to have hailed from these great British Isles.’
      • ‘You may well ask what set me thinking of those teams and days of long ago and the answer is simple.’
      • ‘These two events set me to thinking why the two sports attract such different types of behaviour.’
      • ‘It however set one of my table mates to engage in the unusual act of thinking.’
      • ‘It was the coming of the new Millennium that set him to thinking about writing a book.’
    2. 2.2with object and infinitive Instruct (someone) to do something.
      • ‘he'll set a man to watch you’
    3. 2.3Give someone (a task or test) to do.
      ‘schools will begin to set mock tests’
      • ‘the problem we have been set’
      • ‘She sets herself ‘tasks’, and likes to do them in the morning before going to work.’
      • ‘None of the tasks these men set themselves could be described as easy.’
      • ‘His players, those he inherited and those he has acquired, have passed every character test they have been set.’
      • ‘Therefore, he set himself the task of righting those things he considered to be wrong.’
      • ‘However I had set myself a task to at least try to remove the old writer's block which had been looming over me.’
      • ‘You set yourself a task that isn't anything that you've been explicitly asked to do, nor told that you can do, and you try it out.’
      • ‘Recently a group of students was discussing an essay they had been set for an English test.’
      • ‘He has set himself the task of writing an album about all fifty states in America.’
      • ‘She sets herself the impossible task of trying to prove this to us in a mere six episodes.’
      • ‘The task you have been set is to use any of the materials found on the tables in front of you to make me an object.’
      • ‘The problem is, having set himself this task, Lucas then doesn't follow it through.’
      • ‘Writing down the story of my life as it happens is an interesting task I set myself.’
      • ‘The children have now been set the task of designing a new garden around Mr Jordan's tree.’
      • ‘It is a courageous choice in which he sets himself two tasks.’
      • ‘Hundreds of university hopefuls may be set picture puzzle tests before they are allowed on degree courses.’
      • ‘The children are given a bag full of scrap material and then are set the task of making their own robot.’
      • ‘She joined a running club and began setting herself targets.’
      • ‘Thus the object which the inventor sets himself is achieved in an elegant way.’
      • ‘So I set myself a program of losing weight and getting rid of the spare tyre around the waist.’
      • ‘I can set myself little goals and work to getting back into the side as soon as possible.’
      assign, allocate, give, allot, deal, prescribe
      View synonyms
    4. 2.4Establish as (an example) for others to follow, copy, or try to achieve.
      ‘the scheme sets a precedent for other companies’
      • ‘I felt it would benefit me personally in all future games to set an example and not set such a dangerous precedent.’
      • ‘It would set a precedent the whole of football would have to follow.’
      • ‘Resourcefulness is their trait and she says the example her father has set is a constant influence.’
      • ‘I hold out hope that our response will be measured and set a better example than previously.’
      • ‘So what sort of example are we setting for children?’
      • ‘What kind of an example are you setting for our community?’
      • ‘She's deeply troubled by the company's effect on the economy as a whole and the example it sets for other employers.’
      • ‘It not only implies ignoring the law, which he has violated, but what example have we set?’
      • ‘But it's not for me and it's not a good example to set for easily influenced girls.’
      • ‘She replied that she'd obviously missed it, but that maybe I ought to set more of an example.’
      • ‘I frequently refer back to what she taught me and the example she set for all of us.’
      • ‘With the examples set at the top by the people in real power, it makes local behaviour very mundane.’
      • ‘I'm not sure this sets such a bad precedent, frankly.’
      • ‘Yet any errant athlete will now be entitled to conclude that a precedent has been set.’
      • ‘Since the Congress party is led by a woman, it's in a unique position to set an example.’
      • ‘The center now stood out from the rest of the gym, setting an impossible precedent for any of the other volunteers to follow.’
      • ‘Besides hooking up with all the hot skater guys, do you think your character sets a positive example for girl skaters?’
      • ‘He could have led the rebuilding effort, setting a positive example and giving the team a chance to win every fifth day.’
      • ‘We must stop setting them a bad example by following policies that are unnecessary, and cruel.’
      • ‘Historians of WWII have largely focused on women setting precedents and being able to join the boys in moving into paid wartime work.’
    5. 2.5Establish (a record)
      ‘his time in the 25 m freestyle set a national record’
      • ‘In June another record will be set when five car carriers dock here - the most ever for any one month.’
      • ‘He is a special player and setting a World Cup record is a marvellous achievement.’
      • ‘He won by a convincing eight shots and also set a new scoring record for his age division.’
      • ‘Were there new records to be set or would old records still hold their own?’
      • ‘They lost two more times, setting a record for the worst start in the proud franchise's 38-year history.’
      • ‘The Angels and Dodgers, in fact, are on the verge of setting a record this year for the most combined attendance in one market.’
      • ‘For the past few years, most of the media have tried to make him something he's not, just because he is setting records.’
      • ‘He finally ended that last week by stealing four, setting the franchise record of 59.’
      • ‘She had been in flight for the best part of 45 minutes, and records were being set.’
      • ‘It's not as prestigious as setting a record for batting average or home runs, but he says he would take pride in it because it's another way to get on base.’
      • ‘I fancied myself a long jumper in those days, setting the record at my school.’
      • ‘That they are even close to setting a defensive record is testament to their turn-around in fortunes this season.’
      • ‘In doing so, they avoided setting a new club record for the wrong reasons.’
      • ‘So I did, and in seventh grade I ended up setting a school record.’
      • ‘It is hoped that a new world record will be set with thirteen threshing mills operating at once.’
      • ‘This piece sets a record of frustration for me, personally.’
      • ‘Yorkshire millionaires are said to be vying for an apartment thought to set a price record for the Sheffield.’
      • ‘But in recent years her paintings have set record prices for Latin American art.’
      • ‘Yesterday marked the sixth day in a row of oil prices setting a new record.’
      • ‘Stock prices pulled back slightly after setting new highs earlier.’
      establish, set up, create, provide, institute
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    6. 2.6Decide on and announce.
      ‘they set a date for a full hearing at the end of February’
      • ‘The meeting will take place towards the end of the month although at the time of going to press no firm date has been set.’
      • ‘To prevent an administrative nightmare, no single date has been set for the changeover.’
      • ‘No date has been set for the introduction of the rule change which is being recommended by council advisors.’
      • ‘The couple have already set the location for their wedding and now all that's left for them to do is set an exact date.’
      • ‘The meeting ended with Wednesday May 5 being set as the date of the next monthly meeting.’
      • ‘The matter was due to be determined by the Licensing Sub-Committee in August but no date had yet been set for the meeting.’
      • ‘No date has been set for a final decision, but they are waiting for neighbours such as Dorset and Portsmouth to catch up.’
      • ‘No date has yet been set for the trial or for a preliminary hearing.’
      • ‘He will be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court at a date yet to be set.’
      • ‘He said no date has been set, but it could be heard within the next few weeks.’
      • ‘The matter is likely to be the subject of a public hearing over the summer, although no date has been set.’
      • ‘At the time of going to print no firm date had yet been set for the meeting.’
      • ‘All three have been granted stays of execution and are awaiting dates to be set for their appeals.’
      • ‘No date has yet been set for the court martial or a preliminary hearing.’
      • ‘No dates have been set for hearings as yet, although it is believed that further activity may be imminent.’
      • ‘It has now been rescheduled for some time next month but no specific date has yet been set.’
      • ‘An inquest should provide answers, but no date has yet been set for the hearing.’
      • ‘A Council spokesman said no date had been set yet for the application to be heard.’
      • ‘An official date has been set for the opening of Maldon's Combined Military Services Museum.’
      • ‘Now that the date has been set and the ring given, the upcoming royal wedding is shaping up to be unlike any other.’
      decide on, select, choose, arrange, schedule
      View synonyms
    7. 2.7Fix (a price, value, or limit) on something.
      ‘the unions had set a limit on the size of the temporary workforce’
      • ‘Clearly it is important therefore for you to liaise with your client to ensure the Credit Limit is set at a realistic level.’
      • ‘This will execute or abandon the trade automatically within price and time limits set by the user.’
      • ‘The difference is that the government sets a lower limit to the movement of wages and also mandates working conditions and other benefits that are the same for everyone.’
      • ‘Remember to have fun and always set yourself a betting limit that you don't exceed.’
      • ‘For example, the estimated time limit could be set at five days and the cost per night at £200.’
      • ‘If you're selling your home, setting the right asking price can make all the difference.’
      • ‘This difference sets the lower limit on the energy required to produce an alternative fuel.’
      • ‘The speed limits have been set with the benefit of knowledge of road conditions and minimum stopping distances.’
      • ‘Animals will be on view prior to the auction and reserve prices have been set.’
      • ‘Prices should be set at greater than or equal to long-run marginal separable cost for each product.’
      • ‘Reserve prices will be set following valuation on the morning of the auction on May 8.’
      • ‘At the outset, Williams sets three important limits.’
      • ‘It's the same thing, people deliberately setting prices and inflating charges and stealing our money.’
      • ‘Speed limits must be set according to the road hierarchy, and people must understand why it has to be so.’
      • ‘It cannot be protected through setting clearly defined limits to what can or cannot be said - however generous those limits might seem.’
      • ‘So far, there has been little interest in setting finer limits because the procedure is awkward and expensive to manage.’
      • ‘In this position Saturn, which sets limits and restrictions, often creates health issues, particularly as Saturn rules your body.’
      • ‘If you want people to stop evading fares, stop using your monopoly to set prices so ridiculously high.’
      • ‘It's the only time when the owners of the business can set a preferred disposal price.’
      • ‘Average speeds in terms of upper and lower limits were set for applying a penalty system.’
  • 3with object Adjust (a clock or watch), typically to show the right time.

    ‘set your watch immediately to local time at your destination’
    • ‘to revert to an old style would be to try to set back the clock and deny the progress which had been made’
    • ‘You could set your clock or watch with Pat as he drove his herd in our out of the parlour to pasture morning and evening.’
    • ‘Adelaide is the principal city of the state of South Australia (where one sets one's watch back half an hour when crossing the border).’
    • ‘Simply put, if you see the dawn, your biological clock sets itself to morning.’
    • ‘Then, at three minutes past the hour, the digital clock blinked and set itself back exactly one hour.’
    • ‘In a fit of organisation this morning, we've been running around setting all the clocks.’
    • ‘Incorrectly set clocks on some infected computers explain why the virus is continuing to circulate.’
    adjust, regulate, synchronize, coordinate, harmonize
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1Adjust (an alarm clock) to sound at the required time.
      ‘I usually set my alarm clock for eight’
      • ‘I think my alarm clock is set for 5.30 am, so I'd better get my head down for an early night.’
      • ‘I mean, just what do you do when there is no longer the need to set the alarm clock - and the days stretch ahead of you?’
      • ‘My eyes must have been more tired than I realised last night and I set the alarm clock for the wrong time.’
      • ‘My bag is packed, my valuables stashed with friends, and the alarm clock is set.’
      • ‘I woke up when he was about to join me, at which point one host was setting an alarm clock for two hours later and the other host was playing music rather loudly.’
      • ‘It turns out men and women can set the alarm clock or preset some radio stations with equal ease.’
      • ‘And all good operations involve setting a trap, not trying to get to a necessarily predetermined conclusion.’
      • ‘It also had Renault's automatic parking brake, which sets itself when you switch off the engine and releases itself when you drive away.’
      • ‘The door at the other side of the room is twin to the one through which she entered, and she sets the bolt there almost simultaneously with seeing it.’
      • ‘Kids are encouraged to set Windows Update to automatically download and install patches.’
      • ‘If you click on a door, and if the door is locked, then the menu would show options for bashing the door, picking the lock of the door, or setting a mine to blow open the door.’
      programme, activate
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2Adjust (a device) so that it performs a particular operation.
      ‘you have to be careful not to set the volume too high’
      • ‘If any one of those switches had been set the other way, he would still be alive and fitting fire alarms to Kilburn.’
      • ‘In the past all I had to do was just set the oven temperature and the length of time I wanted to cook.’
      • ‘However, I never touched these controls, which were set by the workers who had used the machine before me.’
      • ‘Scaling, sense of rotation and preset values can be set via the bus, together with code and cycle times.’
      • ‘The AquaGate's fan can be controlled by setting one of three speeds.’
      programme, activate
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3Electronics Cause (a binary device) to enter the state representing the numeral 1.
  • 4no object Harden into a solid or semi-solid state.

    ‘cook for a further thirty-five minutes until the filling has set’
    • ‘It tastes fine but I over boiled it and it has set almost rock solid.’
    • ‘Oh, and if you want a new building material, try having cereal and yogurt, because all the fluid goes into the cereal and the rest of the yogurt sets solid.’
    • ‘Once set, you hardened them in the airing cupboard and painted them with the stuff that was supplied.’
    • ‘When cooked, the filling should have set like a custard and have a smooth shiny surface.’
    • ‘Oddly enough, it is this very latex that prevents gelatin from setting when combined with figs.’
    • ‘The other type - often set with gelatine or jelly - are to my mind not even worthy of the name cheesecake.’
    • ‘When mixed into a slurry with water it sets rapidly into a uniform, solid, inert mass.’
    • ‘Cover and refrigerate overnight until the natural gelatin sets.’
    • ‘Globular proteins partly unravel and become tangled, causing them to solidify, as when egg white sets.’
    • ‘Finally, as the concrete further sets or stiffens, troweling operations begin, if required.’
    • ‘Made from icing sugar and egg whites, royal icing sets like concrete.’
    • ‘That's why you shouldn't use it in making gelatin - the enzymes prevent it from setting.’
    • ‘Symptomatic clinical problems usually are a result of an exothermic reaction that occurs as the bone cement sets.’
    • ‘Composite cavity-filling materials today have a tendency to shrink and even leak over time as the polymer cracks due to the stresses and becomes more rigid as it sets.’
    solidify, harden, become solid, become hard, stiffen, thicken, gel
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1with object Arrange (the hair) while damp so that it dries in the required style.
      • ‘she had set her hair on small rollers’
    2. 4.2with object Put parts of (a broken or dislocated bone or limb) into the correct position for healing.
      ‘he lined up the bones and set the arm’
      • ‘Charlie read how to set a broken leg and wilted at the thought of doing that to Jo.’
      • ‘This was operated on but there was a problem setting the bone and when it failed to heal properly, he had to have it done again.’
      • ‘The surgeon breaks the displaced bone and sets it into a better position.’
      • ‘Plastic surgery, bone setting and cesarean sections were routinely practiced with great success.’
      • ‘Some traditional medical practitioners use herbal medicines and set broken bones.’
      • ‘Despite all the medical advances and cool new colours, setting broken bones is still a pretty primitive process.’
      • ‘One woman's broken thigh bone had been badly set, leaving her left leg at least three inches shorter than her right.’
      • ‘In the UK there is a long tradition of using the plant as a medical treatment, particularly in Scotland where it was used as an ointment for bone setting.’
    3. 4.3(of a bone) be restored to its normal condition by knitting together again after being broken.
      ‘children's bones soon set’
      • ‘By that time, the bones had set, so doctors had to break the bones again in order to permit a proper resetting.’
    4. 4.4(with reference to a person's face) assume or cause to assume a fixed or rigid expression.
      no object ‘her features never set into a civil parade of attention’
      • ‘Travis's face was set as he looked up’
      • ‘When he glanced back at the corner, jaw setting, she laid her hand on his arm.’
      • ‘Following my faint shadow across the tan carpet and up to my feet then leisurely climbing to my face until our eyes meet, the enemy noticeably tenses and her jaw sets.’
      • ‘His jaw sets and he doesn't respond, and I know he knows that was a mean thing for him to say, but I also know he isn't going to apologise.’
      • ‘Their face tightens immediately; their features fall, the jaw sets and the arms cross.’
    5. 4.5(of a hunting dog) adopt a rigid attitude indicating the presence of game.
  • 5no object (of the sun, moon, or another celestial body) appear to move towards and below the earth's horizon as the earth rotates.

    ‘the sun was setting and a warm red glow filled the sky’
    • ‘I sat in the soccer field gazing up at the sky as the sun was setting and a new moon was rising.’
    • ‘The sun was setting over the horizon, and the skies were stained with faint pinks and lavenders and blues.’
    • ‘Slowly she began to draw a wolf on a cliff looking down on the land below with the sun setting.’
    • ‘When she got back, the sun was gradually setting below the treetops.’
    • ‘She stared at the sun setting over the ocean and the moon rising next to the sun, just like she did every night.’
    • ‘The sky will be bright when the moon first rises as the sun does not set until a few minutes later.’
    • ‘The sun was setting briskly over the shimmering ocean horizon.’
    • ‘On the rooftop, with the sun setting over the maze of narrow streets below them, they practice their one finished song before the show.’
    • ‘Suddenly she stopped in her tracks and turned to the horizon where the sun was setting.’
    • ‘Her eyes were focused straight ahead on the horizon where the sun would set at any minute.’
    • ‘We sat in silence until the sun had set and stars began to appear in the gradually darkening sky.’
    • ‘The group moved in silence till the sun began setting behind the mountains.’
    • ‘There are some questions that can only be asked after the sun has set and the stars have come out.’
    • ‘The sun was setting, a reminder of the last sunset Solomon had seen.’
    • ‘This is the view from The Coven Bedroom Window on Boxing Day morning - that's the moon setting.’
    • ‘Audiences could look forward to a glorious summer's evening, with the sun setting behind the abbey.’
    • ‘The sun was setting behind the massive new bridge that was being built a few miles away, and the sky had burst into varying colors of reds and oranges.’
    • ‘By the time they got back to the resort, the sun was setting.’
    • ‘The sun was setting and Roy sat down beside her on the bench.’
    • ‘It looked so beautiful with the sun setting at the top of it.’
    go down, sink, decline, descend, drop, subside
    View synonyms
  • 6no object, with adverbial of direction (of a tide or current) take or have a specified direction or course.

    • ‘a fair tide can be carried well past Land's End before the stream sets to the north’
  • 7mainly North American with object Start (a fire)

    ‘the school had been broken into and the fire had been set’
    • ‘He was arrested last week for allegedly setting the fire.’
    • ‘Have you ever heard of him throwing televisions out of the hotel windows and setting fires and doing this and that?’
    • ‘He has, apparently burst out of a burning building, from a fire he set himself.’
    • ‘I suppose if I got to that point, would I start setting fires so that I could document the result?’
    • ‘Protesters set fires at points outside the fence, tearing it down in at least one place.’
    • ‘He produced photographs of vacant houses and said people were going into them and setting fires in them.’
    • ‘Migrant workers set fires to burn off the wild plants so they can plant vegetables.’
    • ‘They might even have set fires: if so, this would be by far the oldest proven fire use in Britain.’
    • ‘People were panicking, breaking windows, setting fires - anything to try to get someone's attention from the outside.’
    • ‘People are even setting fires deliberately and calling them out simply in order that they can attack them.’
    • ‘During the past two days, residents have been setting fires on the streets to highlight deplorable living conditions.’
    • ‘They were hurling things at police and occasionally even setting fires.’
    • ‘The energy the gun was storing starts to leak out, setting fires off all over the surface of the ship.’
    • ‘Since childhood, he's always had a passion for setting fires and creating fire.’
    • ‘Both burials appear to have involved ceremonies which included setting fires and placing offerings.’
    • ‘Community studies suggest that a large number of children have set fires at some time in their life.’
  • 8with object (of blossom or a tree) form into or produce (fruit)

    ‘wait until first flowers have set fruit before planting out the peppers’
    • ‘Hand-pollinated flowers always set fruit whilst unpollinated flowers did not form any capsules.’
    • ‘The tree sets heavy crops of medium to large fruits.’
    • ‘Other authors, have also reported low fractions of flowers setting fruit in pepper.’
    • ‘A mature plant produces 50-100 branches and sets a few hundred fruits that mature in 4-6 weeks.’
    • ‘Training is important because it allows you to control how the plant grows, how many fruits it sets, and when.’
    • ‘It's curious that as many pods as my vine sets, I never see seedlings pop up in the garden.’
    1. 8.1no object (of fruit) develop from blossom.
      ‘once fruits have set, feed weekly with a high potash liquid tomato fertilizer’
      • ‘Fertilize during the growing season, but to avoid excessive vegetative growth and fewer blooms, do not overapply nitrogen after the first fruit sets.’
      • ‘He applies a third of each plant's yearly allotment before spring growth starts and the rest after fruit sets.’
      • ‘Alex rang in with problem tomatoes - he had good flowers but the fruit is not setting.’
      • ‘Get them in now because you want them to flower and the fruit to set before it gets too hot.’
      • ‘Once the flowers have been pollinated and the fruit has begun to set, marrow plants require copious amounts of water.’
      • ‘Fertilize your garden before planting tomatoes and again when the fruit first sets.’
    2. 8.2(of a plant) produce (seed)
      ‘the herb has flowered and started to set seed’
      • ‘Simply cut the heads in July and August before the flower sets seeds.’
      • ‘Before it sets seeds, Mike digs every last bit of the plant from the soil, then lays it in the sun for a couple of days.’
      • ‘Where flowers had formerly held forth with a cheerful kaleidoscope of petals, plants were now busily setting seeds.’
  • 9 dialect no object Sit.

    ‘the rest of them people just set there goggle-eyed for a minute’
    • ‘She had several picnic tables setting out in the yard and the grill was setting nearby too.’
    • ‘Let set for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it.’


    set one's heart on
    • Have a strong desire for or to do.

      ‘she had her heart set on going to university’
      • ‘I had my hopes set on a possible career in aerospace manufacturing’
      • ‘I am recently out of a relationship with a man that I had set my heart on marrying.’
      • ‘Up to this point in my life, I had never come close to anything I had set my heart on.’
    set one's teeth
    • 1Clench one's teeth together.

      ‘He set his teeth and stared at her hard.’
      • ‘He set his teeth and watched her walk away.’
      • ‘Something unreadable flashed across her face, and he set his teeth and whirled around to stalk out of the room.’
      • ‘Michael eased off his glove and set his teeth and tensed, and after a moment the tips of his fingers moved.’
      1. 1.1Become resolute.
        ‘they have set their teeth against a change which would undermine their prospects of forming a government’
        • ‘Here he had succeeded in setting his teeth.’
        • ‘A stable core helps you ‘set your teeth and drag it out’ when you are trying to arc turns through the cut up crud or your ski gets caught in a rut.’
        • ‘Of course you were correct to set your teeth and endure.’
        • ‘I set my teeth, though my skin was presently afire; all my body afire; but I lay there like grim death.’
        • ‘He looked down upon his antagonist through a faint, red haze, and his sword hand tingled, but he set his teeth and fought back the sick ecstasy of his people's curse.’
        • ‘Todd set his teeth and tied one end of the lights to a protruding barrier post, leaning against it to test his weight.’
        • ‘She hated everything about it at that moment, and she set her teeth and found herself glaring at the dark house before her, the windows shut up like eyes looking the other direction.’
        • ‘Cath set her teeth, and didn't go after her any more.’
        • ‘She set her teeth and swung around, pointing the gun at his face.’
        • ‘She set her teeth, prepared to stomach the insidious insult of her intelligence.’
    set sail
    • 1Hoist the sails of a boat.

      ‘First, we should have checked the boat over closely before setting sail.’
      • ‘Your foot isn't in a pail, you didn't forget to set sail; we aren't even on a boat, and you don't eat like a whale.’
      • ‘We were waiting to pull up the anchor and, preparing to set sail, hoping to find land once again.’
      • ‘The sky looked gray and stormy as the company loaded the ship and they began to set sail.’
      • ‘The creaking of the heavy canvas above her as the crew began to set sail brought her back to the present with a jump.’
      1. 1.1Begin a voyage.
        ‘tomorrow we set sail for France’
        • ‘In a moment, the ship set sail on its return voyage, fading into the glints of sunlight reflecting of the salty bay with a mission to return next summer.’
        • ‘You are about to set sail on a voyage that is very exciting and full of adventure.’
        • ‘But as word got round, the modest flotilla grew into an armada that will set sail from Holyhead tomorrow morning.’
        • ‘The Jews of Spain were expelled from their country in 1492, the year Christopher Columbus set sail.’
        • ‘The world's last ocean-going paddle steamer set sail again just hours after it was feared her hull had been damaged off the Mull of Kintrye.’
        • ‘In 1958, they set sail with the intention of sailing around the world, writing articles as they went.’
        • ‘The book ends where most others would begin, as the forces set sail for Troy.’
        • ‘With great difficulty, we pulled up the anchor and set sail towards the sea.’
        • ‘A ship is anchored and ready to set sail for England on my command.’
        • ‘Several passengers left the boat before it set sail, so concerned were they about its instability.’
    set the wheels in motion
    • Do something to begin a process or put a plan into action.

      ‘Jane set the wheels in motion to find somewhere small to live’
      • ‘Therefore if you are planning to plant in 2004 now is the time to set the wheels in motion.’
      • ‘She explained that setting the wheels in motion and getting something done about the building was a long and arduous process that would involve many different agencies.’
      • ‘Personally, I think it's kind of a big deal when a president deliberately sets the wheels in motion to invade another country, before the events later used to justify the war have even taken place.’
      • ‘Decisions taken at the meeting will set the wheels in motion towards providing some very real and practical help in the short and longer term.’
      • ‘A few months ago more people showed an interest in getting the reunion of the ground and a small working committee was formed which went on to set the wheels in motion for last Friday's event.’
      • ‘A committee was inaugurated and the unified parish set the wheels in motion which would result in the foundation of a place where people could live or die with dignity.’
      • ‘If they want me to block it up, they can come and do it themselves but I'm going to set the wheels in motion for an appeal.’
      • ‘Satisfied with their enquiries, the members agreed to set the wheels in motion to take the 14 housing estates in charge.’
      • ‘Now, almost three years later the singer has set the wheels in motion to put British music back on the American map.’
      • ‘Now she is trying to raise interest to set the wheels in motion on the re-opening of the venue.’

Phrasal Verbs

    set about
    • 1set about somethingStart doing something with vigour or determination.

      ‘it would be far better to admit the problem openly and set about tackling it’
      • ‘She then sets about building the nest laying her eggs as the work proceeds.’
      • ‘After breakfast he sets about cleaning his truck till it gleams and drives off to work at a stone quarry.’
      • ‘So what he does is identify a specific problem in the workplace and sets about resolving it.’
      • ‘I arrived in Scotland today and set about exploring the ruins of Tantallon Castle.’
      • ‘Car companies, big and small, embraced the new category and set about creating cars for it.’
      • ‘But this team has shown over the year to be up to the challenge and set about the task of closing the gap.’
      • ‘She set about getting rid of the dresses and her hick accent and her love of cowboy songs.’
      • ‘They set about finding out what their peers were eating and the results don't make for good news.’
      • ‘In the millennium year the club set about an ambitious task of upgrading their facilities.’
      • ‘I am relieved to see that our government has set about dealing with this problem.’
    • 2set about someoneBritish informal Attack someone.

      • ‘he set about me with a strap’
      • ‘He claimed the cabbie had assaulted him, setting about him with a wheel brace and then trying to run him over.’
      • ‘As he tried to recover it, the other side's players thought she was being assaulted and set about him.’
      • ‘You cheer when he manages to gain respect by setting about tormentors with a fistful of batteries.’
    set against
    • 1set someone against someone or somethingCause someone to be in opposition or conflict with someone or something.

      ‘he hadn't meant any harm but his few words had set her against him’
      • ‘It was the bitter resentment of an unhappy childhood that set Butler against all dogma, all overweening authority and authoritarianism.’
      • ‘Now, 9 months later, we have a complicated bill that sets New Zealander against New Zealander.’
      • ‘There is no place for the kind of Government that sets New Zealanders against each other.’
      • ‘You want to know what has set Sir Prescott against me?’
      • ‘This culture courts distrust of other people: making us suspicious of others and their motivations for action, and setting us against each other.’
      • ‘Ahab, on the other hand, is a spoiler, whose obsession with the white whale sets him against this process, morally and materially.’
      • ‘It tries to set us against each other and changes all the time.’
      • ‘All of my instincts set me against the government's proposed move to outlaw incitement to religious hatred.’
      • ‘During a 1946 labor strike heavily infiltrated by communists, Reagan felt Marxism's heavy boot, an experience that would permanently set him against tyranny.’
      • ‘He wanted to set me against him, to get me to say something stupid to John, to force John to choose between me and him.’
    • 2set something against somethingOffset something against something else.

      ‘trading losses can be set against capital gains’
      • ‘Offset and current account mortgages work by setting your savings against your borrowings.’
      • ‘Well, I switched to a flexible mortgage, because I'm self-employed and I can set my tax against my mortgage until I have to pay my tax bill.’
    set apart
    • 1set something apart, set apart somethingSeparate something and keep it for a special purpose.

      ‘there were books and rooms set apart as libraries’
      • ‘When we make something separate, we set it apart from the mundane world, dedicating it to the use of the Gods.’
      • ‘The traditional home, of which a couple of rooms have been set apart for the visitors, is located along the banks of Periyar at Aluva and the package begins with an 18-km drive along narrow village roads and a dip in the river.’
      • ‘The cemetery lay in back of the town quarry between the Middlesex and Brainerd Quarry companies, setting it apart and isolating it high on a promontory overlooking the quarries.’
      • ‘Wednesdays and Thursdays have been set apart for counselling in person.’
      • ‘About 200 seats have been set apart for raising funds for the aged women at Sree Sarada Matam.’
      • ‘The other section of the photo exhibition has been set apart for ‘Malayalam Cinema’.’
      • ‘The day of the arrival is set apart for the formalities of registration.’
    • 2set someone apart, set apart someoneMake someone seem distinctive or superior.

      ‘his ability and self-effacing modesty have set him apart’
      • ‘Name one unusual physical attribute that sets you apart from the crowd.’
      • ‘So what makes him different, what sets him apart from those who haven't achieved his level of recognition?’
      • ‘Unusual plots with strange twists have set him apart from other ‘predictable’ commercial Hindi film directors.’
      • ‘He had no distinguishing physical qualities setting him apart from the other Marines.’
      • ‘The enlarged brain and highly developed cognitive abilities is one of the fundamental differences that sets us apart from our close relatives, the nonhuman primates.’
      • ‘In a way, that sets me apart more than my having conservative views.’
      • ‘You were the smartest kid in that sophomore class by far, but with a modesty that set you apart from many of your arrogant classmates.’
      • ‘I wanted to do something different that would set us apart.’
      • ‘Our common emotional heritage goes deeper than the cultural differences that set us apart.’
      • ‘She wouldn't change her hair color for the world; it was a feature that was quite distinctive, that set her apart from her family.’
    set aside
    • 1set something aside, set aside somethingSave or keep something, typically money or time, for a particular purpose.

      • ‘the bank expected to set aside about $700 million for restructuring’
      1. 1.1Remove land from agricultural production.
        • ‘with 15 per cent of land set aside, cereal production will fall’
    • 2set something aside, set aside somethingDeclare a legal decision or process to be invalid.

      • ‘he applied by summons to set aside the notice served on them’
    set back
    • 1set something or someone back, set back someone or somethingDelay or impede the progress of someone or something.

      ‘this incident undoubtedly set back research’
      • ‘If revolutionary new therapies are delayed or outlawed, we could be set back for years, if not decades.’
      • ‘However, just as the discovery of arsenic contamination undermined years of work to provide clean drinking water, crises such as the current floods demonstrate how easily such progress can be set back.’
      • ‘Do this and the progress of this city will be set back a generation!’
      • ‘They really did seem to believe that they could win the championships but the way they lost will undoubtedly set them back.’
      • ‘Undoubtedly, this sets us back in all of our efforts or all of the gains we've made in introducing this sport to America.’
      • ‘A hamstring problem set him back for a while, but it hasn't been bothering him lately.’
      • ‘And, unfortunately, this incident is only going to set that effort back.’
      • ‘Attempts to split up a parish council could be set back a year because of administrative delays, campaigners fear.’
      • ‘I had planned to continue this line of research, but several family situations arose that set me back.’
      • ‘By 8pm that night she was moved back to the intensive care unit but her recovery was set back the following day when she had a cardiac arrest.’
    • 2set someone back something informal (of a purchase) cost someone a particular amount of money.

      • ‘that must have set you back a bit’
      • ‘Everyone got to meet my cats, Marian got to show off her salad making talents, and all it set us back was the cost of some frozen hamburger patties and a few bottles of beer.’
      • ‘The average main course will set you back around £12, while the starters generally cost about £5-6.’
      • ‘To do the same with a combination system (where you don't have a tank to change), will set you back in the region of £1,000 plus the boiler cost.’
      • ‘A normal brush costs around £1.99, while electric ones will set you back between £15 and £100.’
      • ‘In today's climate dinner for two will often amount to €100 while a few drinks out will set you back about another €50.’
      • ‘Our youngest daughter Alice is booked in to see a dermatologist next week for her dermatitis, which would normally cost $100 but will only set us back $8.’
      • ‘It's one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in and it set us back $35 a night.’
      • ‘That set him back a few thousand, and he started saving again.’
      • ‘The two-day stay at the stupendous villa would have set them back £40,000 had they paid, according to travel industry experts.’
      • ‘Educating a child privately will set parents back an average of £130,000.’
    set by
    US archaic, dated
    • set something by, set by somethingSave something for future use.

      • ‘set some money by for your needs when you get old’
    set down
    • 1set something down, set down somethingRecord something in writing.

      ‘that evening he set down his thoughts in brief notes’
      • ‘But if he would scarcely answer, because it was set down in his notebook.’
      • ‘David Hume set his ideas down here; it was in his home city that William Smellie published the first Encyclopaedia Britannica in the 1760s.’
      • ‘In one of the better sections of his book, Man takes us into this fascinating moment in history - where an oral, nomadic culture decides to set its stories down.’
      • ‘He has been asked so many times by family and friends to tell his tales of railway days that he has set them down on paper.’
      • ‘Thoughts come fast, so fast that it is difficult to set them down in words.’
      • ‘I have yet to set them down, so am unable to defend my dreams and visions.’
      • ‘Some of the writing had faded and the writer would know the breed, size, colour, age and many other details without having to set them down.’
      • ‘However, the awful, inescapable truth is that, having ordered my emotions enough to set them down in words, I almost immediately started to feel better.’
      • ‘These words were set down in his famous work, ‘Self-destruction of Self-destruction.’’
      • ‘It is a sentence written by someone who is writing on automatic pilot, putting down the thoughts pretty much as they popped into her head, and not bothering to arrange them in a sensible order once they were set down on paper.’
      1. 1.1Establish something as a rule or principle to be followed.
        ‘the Association set down codes of practice for all members to comply with’
        • ‘That process will be set in motion, as I've already mentioned, next Tuesday and once set in motion, and once the rules are set down, it will all simply follow automatically.’
        • ‘An exhaustive set of conditions or rules were set down including one which describes the lengths to which anonymity was preserved in some of the composition competitions, and where pseudonyms were to be used.’
        • ‘Some new rules have been set down as a result of this year's congress meeting.’
        • ‘I'll just have to set ground rules down in terms of what time I leave the office.’
        • ‘It may be imposed ‘during the pendency’ of disciplinary charges, but no standards are set down to guide that determination.’
        • ‘He said the Council couldn't increase the level of fines imposed on people, who illegally dumped rubbish, as they were set down in legislation.’
        • ‘In 1995 guidelines were set down for isolation rooms, infection control, general hygiene and hand washing but nobody was recruited to oversee compliance and as a result nobody was to blame.’
    • 2set someone down, set down someoneBritish Stop and allow someone to alight from a vehicle.

      ‘we will set you down at your gates’
      • ‘The bus sets you down just outside the casco histórico - the old city - or rather, just below it.’
      • ‘I was set down from the carrier's cart at the age of three; and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began.’
    set forth
    • 1set something forth, set forth somethingState or describe something in writing or speech.

      ‘we had the responsibility to assess the evidence as set forth in the report’
      • ‘These principles were set forth in the landmark judgments at Nuremberg, and [are] now embodied in the basic instruments of international criminal law.’
      • ‘Five underlying principles are set forth at the beginning of the Framework.’
      • ‘Their names are set forth in Schedule A, which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.’
      • ‘These reasons were set forth in a memorandum by the dean that faulted the professor for numerous alleged professional and personal shortcomings and cautioned her not to challenge the memorandum.’
      • ‘Their positions have been set forth on their Web site.’
      • ‘For convenience both rules are set forth below.’
      • ‘The moral to the tale is set forth in the well-known stanza.’
      • ‘Not surprisingly, no reference to such an immunity is set forth in the Constitution.’
      • ‘In order to document this important definition, we must look at the precise way in which George sets it forth.’
      • ‘Truths are one thing, the way they are set forth is another.’
    • 2

      (also set forward)
      archaic Begin a journey.

      ‘we set forth to enjoy the countryside’
      • ‘Many have set forth on great journeys from New York, of course.’
      • ‘At the bottom of this picture two carriages set forth at dawn on the journey home under armed escort.’
      • ‘Christian missionaries who set forth from Rome to convert the heathen brought with them the curse of those two days and the seven-day week.’
      • ‘Mum and Dad have set forth on a great caravan adventure leaving us here at home to play house for two weeks!’
      • ‘So he set forth to seek his fortune… Thus it began, but shortly, it led through a maze of adventures, to a land in the west.’
    set in
    • 1(of something unpleasant or unwelcome) begin and seem likely to continue.

      ‘tables should be treated with preservative before the bad weather sets in’
      • ‘Before the cold weather sets in, have your central heating serviced to ensure you keep your energy bills down.’
      • ‘But to get the real benefits of cheaper gas and electricity as the cold weather sets in, it is best to act now.’
      • ‘As the boats were being lowered the Tuscania took on a list to starboard and panic began to set in.’
      • ‘As cooler weather sets in over autumn and winter the plants die down and become dormant.’
      • ‘According to his research, people feel that middle age begins at 49 and old age sets in at 65.’
      • ‘In the past she has shown she is not easily cowed, but she said a deep fatigue was setting in.’
      • ‘There must be a commitment to continuous improvement, otherwise complacency sets in.’
      • ‘It takes a very focused mind indeed to do this without listener boredom setting in.’
      • ‘If the battery is healthy, it is a good idea to check the terminals and smear them with petroleum jelly to stop corrosion setting in.’
      • ‘Surgeons have to remove damaged skin quickly and replace it to prevent infection from setting in.’
    • 2set something in, set in somethingInsert a part such as a sleeve into a garment.

      ‘with a properly drafted pattern you can often set the sleeve in without adding an easing stitch’
      • ‘Notice if it has drop shoulders or if the sleeves are set in at the natural armhole.’
    set off
    • 1Begin a journey.

      ‘they set off together in the small car’
      • ‘Drivers are being advised to check road conditions with the Highways Agency before setting off on journeys.’
      • ‘The notion that one can set off on a journey and arrive at the promised time is regarded as a joke.’
      • ‘About half an hour after setting off a blizzard descended, I couldn't see five yards in front of me.’
      • ‘The three Wrabness men have already reached southern Spain, just two days after setting off.’
      • ‘It's very difficult wishing loved ones all the best when they are setting off to a land as far away from you as it is possible to be.’
      • ‘Travellers setting off for the great bank holiday getaway today can expect the busiest roads of the year.’
      • ‘It recommends setting off east on a train to Harwich, then taking a boat to Demark and heading on from there.’
      • ‘Three days before we had hammered up from Glasgow to the ferry, setting off an hour late and having to make time.’
      • ‘Get a good night's sleep before setting off on a long trip and make sure you are properly awake before leaving.’
      • ‘There are the walkers setting off with their walking boots, backpacks and sticks for a day in the hills.’
    • 2set someone off, set off someoneCause someone to start doing something, especially laughing or talking.

      ‘anything will set him off laughing’
      • ‘Hunter barely managed to stifle a chuckle, but Brandon was set off into a full laugh.’
      • ‘And he starts to laugh, and that sets me off too as I realise what I've just said.’
      • ‘He gave a short laugh, which set her off on another stream of uproarious laughter.’
      • ‘This remark made me laugh even harder and set her off giggling.’
      • ‘Once I start laughing this hard, anything will set me off.’
      • ‘We've kind of gotten to this point of understanding where we don't need words and we just need a glance to set us off laughing.’
      • ‘And, since we were already very hyper, it had set us off laughing like no other.’
      • ‘There was no way that I wanted to be here anymore, but I found that the completely random thought of Mikey and Stewie in matching tutus was enough to set me off laughing again.’
      • ‘After a moment of silence Cale started to laugh, which got Andy laughing, and that set Marco off laughing because Andy has a really funny laugh.’
      • ‘This sets him off on a rant about the new dads and their biographers.’
    • 3set something off, set off somethingCause a bomb or alarm to go off.

      ‘police do not know how the bomb was set off’
      • ‘a smoke detector set off an alarm soon after midnight’
      • ‘The bombs are set off by remote-controlled detonators made from simple devices like this car alarm.’
      • ‘He instructed me to hold the other bottle, but not to pull it tight, or the lighter would trigger, and might set the bomb off in my hands.’
      • ‘Around him, bombs were set off, but he only noticed it because he saw them hitting the dark barrier and creating ripples through the shield.’
      • ‘In typical movie monster fashion, people are killed, bombs are set off, and the monster comes out of hiding.’
      • ‘He must have run a red light and set it off I thought.’
      • ‘Powder and water fire extinguishers were set off, door locks smashed, and cupboards and drawers tipped out.’
      • ‘Flour was strewn everywhere, including over two pool tables and six fire extinguishers had been set off.’
      • ‘It shook the windows and all the car alarms were set off.’
      • ‘Systems need to be put in place so that information is passed and alarm signals are set off.’
      • ‘When a suspect's mobile device gets close, an alarm will be set off.’
      1. 3.1Cause a series of things to occur.
        ‘the fear is that this could set off a chain reaction in other financial markets’
        • ‘All wars are set off by actions taken by a Reactionary Power who is dissatisfied with the existing status quo, a state of affairs which suits the status quo power.’
    • 4set something off, set off somethingServe as decorative embellishment to something.

      ‘I came downstairs in a mint green maxi-dress, set off nicely by my new white bag’
      • ‘Although a feather in the hat would set it off nicely.’
      • ‘Pinky mauve or white, the dainty nodding flowers are set off by the beautifully marbled dark green leaves.’
      • ‘The rugged foliage is a complete contrast to the delicate, frothy pink flowers and sets them off to perfection.’
      • ‘The woodwork is beautiful and it is set off by overhead brass lamps.’
      • ‘Pink daffodils are set off to perfection by perennials with foliage in supporting colors.’
      • ‘The rear of the bar is much brighter and livelier with light streaming in from the glass roof while the marble bar is set off nicely by the warm browns and the reds of the furniture.’
      • ‘From the checks and papers scattered on the floor to the furniture that set the room off nicely, there didn't seem to be anything out of the usual, other than the massive boot prints staining the rugs.’
      • ‘Brick alcoves in the walls are set off with ornamental urns with pot plants.’
      • ‘Her hair, braided from the bark of the willow is set off by the woven spiders webs attached to the windows, adding to the eerie view from the corridor of the school.’
      • ‘Have you ever thought about setting it off with a nice moustache?’
    • 5set something off, set off somethingOffset something against something else.

      • ‘any rental paid must of course be set off against any income tax payable’
    set on
    • 1set on someoneAttack someone violently.

      ‘he and his friends were set on by a gang’
      • ‘Years ago he and 10 colleagues were violently set upon outside a club.’
      • ‘The majority of these were against young boys and girls who were set upon by violent thugs as they made their way home late at night.’
      • ‘But as he was fleeing he stumbled and was set upon, stabbed and beaten.’
      • ‘He was set upon by two attackers near his home on Saturday.’
      • ‘They met up with a third school friend and the four walked to an alleyway nearby where the three attackers suddenly set upon their victim.’
      • ‘He stated that another girl who tried to stop the attack on his daughter was then set upon as the melee escalated.’
      • ‘He himself was set upon by unknown attackers as he witnessed things he refuses to talk about.’
      • ‘As he was running away, Johnny fell to the ground and was set upon.’
      • ‘One night I saw one girl just set upon another one and she hammered her.’
      • ‘He then gave his attackers the wrong number but was set upon again after they realised he had tried to trick them.’
      1. 1.1set someone or something on someoneCause or urge a person or animal to attack someone.
        ‘I was asked to leave and threatened with having dogs set upon me’
        • ‘It was also legal to set hounds on injured animals for humane reasons.’
        • ‘Young people go around setting their dogs on cats, and it is like a rites of passage.’
        • ‘Unfortunately, they were defending their ‘right’ to ride around on horses, setting dogs on foxes.’
        • ‘I'm sure they'd be happy to set a large dog on you.’
        • ‘The fox refused, however, saying that the man would repay his good deed by setting his dogs on him.’
        • ‘The story goes that as a boy, he saw a local nobleman set his dog on a peasant woman who was knocked to the ground and battered.’
        • ‘So next time something like this happens should we call on the police to set the dogs on protesters?’
        • ‘Kindly leave before I set the hunting dogs on you.’
        • ‘A man was left terrified after a dog was set on him by two strangers late at night.’
        • ‘I think in my more lucid moments, that possibly I am better suited to my current humble station, as there is less chance of me setting dogs on people.’
    set out
    • 1Begin a journey.

      ‘we set out from New York on Friday for Egypt’
      • ‘So I still shut my door, put my best foot forward, and set out on my journey.’
      • ‘Should I set out on such a journey, equivalent to sailing round the world single handed in a rowboat?’
      • ‘Believe it or not, in those days we dutifully checked radiators and fan belts and oil and petrol and tyre pressure before setting out on any journey of consequence.’
      • ‘He said Fridays were thought to be the worst for accidents for a number of reasons including extra traffic, tired drivers and people setting out on longer journeys.’
      • ‘Be that as it may, the long road would take us too far afield even to begin setting out on it.’
      • ‘The adventure begins when Molly sets out on her quest, oblivious to what await her.’
      • ‘If this were available then the choice of whether or not to visit these places could be made prior to setting out on the journey.’
      • ‘I handed Richard a radio once we began setting out, informing him and the others about what our course of action was.’
      • ‘We can begin setting out for the planets today rather than someday, or never.’
      • ‘Canoes were also set to begin searching but strong winds prevented them from setting out.’
      1. 1.1Aim or intend to do something.
        ‘she drew up a plan of what her organization should set out to achieve’
        • ‘In the two week break from work I've just had, one of my goals (despite setting out to achieve as little as possible in this time) was to play the game through.’
        • ‘What is your project, what are you setting out to achieve?’
        • ‘It does not achieve what it sets out to do (to teach the child how to act in society).’
        • ‘I find that meditation is a very useful tool to get work done, to achieve what one sets out to achieve.’
        • ‘His accomplishments in Zimbabwe suggest he normally achieves what he sets out to.’
        • ‘They have not achieved what they set out to do with all these schemes.’
        • ‘They have achieved what they set out to and the reasons that took them abroad are no longer valid.’
        • ‘We start the story with Joey's arrival in Dallas, as he sets out to seek fame and fortune as an actor.’
        • ‘He achieved what he set out to, and demonstrated that there is a new movement in the US, which is not about to go away.’
        • ‘To achieve that they set out to reduce the number of competitors in the market.’
    • 2set something out, set out somethingArrange or display something in a particular order or position.

      ‘they had a picnic by the river where there was a jetty and rustic tables and chairs set out’
      • ‘And you passed this table where all his publications were set out on display.’
      • ‘Milk, rice, and Sri Lankan sweetmeats are set out in precise order, along with the slate on which the child will scrawl the letter.’
      • ‘At one end, a large projection screen displayed the screen of one of the game players, and about a dozen chairs were set out for people to watch the action.’
      • ‘Dozens of chairs had been set out and the town council had moved from the council chamber to the larger court room to allow the maximum amount of public discussion.’
      • ‘Hundreds upon hundreds of simple chairs were set out, but no one filled them.’
      • ‘OK, if you only have dessert spoons; but if the way you set them out on the table is the deciding factor, what about the soup spoons?’
      • ‘Tables and bullhorns were set out for the protesters in front of the entrance to the building housing the interview rooms.’
      • ‘The tables were set out in the traditional way of all old Universities.’
      • ‘The rectangular metal tables were set out perfectly, in five rows of five, sitting about eight each.’
      • ‘Behind this podium was a private section where tables had been set out.’
      1. 2.1Present information or ideas in a well-ordered way in writing or speech.
        ‘this chapter sets out the debate surrounding pluralism’
        • ‘Nomination details are set out in an information pack.’
        • ‘The problems may have remained hidden for longer but for new rules about how pension funds are valued and how that information is set out in the company's accounts.’
        • ‘These ideas were set out in Hume's Dialogues which was published by an unknown publisher, probably in Edinburgh, three years after his death in 1776.’
        • ‘The Council's views on the medical information has been set out in its previous letters.’
        • ‘Their main features and characteristics are set out in this chapter, and their roles in the policy process will be a recurrent theme in this volume.’
        • ‘The aim of this book is set out in Chapter 1 and, accordingly, a preface might seem unnecessary.’
        • ‘Yes, I have, and they are set out in detail in the written submissions, but I want to highlight in paragraph 26 where it all goes wrong.’
        • ‘These amendments are set out in detail in the commentary on the bill.’
        • ‘The facts are set out in some detail and I need not take your Honours through them.’
        • ‘They must be construed and then applied to the facts precisely in the order in which they are set out.’
    set to
    • 1set something to somethingProvide music so that a written work can be produced in a musical form.

      ‘she set his poem to music’
      • ‘Mathilde subsequently tried, to no avail, to encourage him to use one of her dramas as the basis for an opera, or at least to set her poems to music.’
      • ‘Time and time again I asked myself why I had returned to set religious texts to choral music.’
      • ‘This fascinating CD draws on the talents of composers who have set his poetry to music, interspersed with readings from his works.’
      • ‘A friend of his asked him to set her poem to music, and he has done so really well!’
      • ‘If you take a distinguished poem and set it to magnificent music you can make a beautiful song.’
      • ‘But setting show-stoppers to rock music has its own pitfalls.’
      • ‘Even though I enjoy setting pictures to music my kids listen to at school, I have a couple of much bigger projects in the works.’
      • ‘The trouble starts when he sets them to music without the full support and musical ideas of his colleagues.’
      • ‘The song-poem companies put little notices in magazines, offering to set your words to music.’
      • ‘Dylan set words to music in a way that no one had done before.’
      • ‘You may e-mail it without encryption, post it on a web site or set it to music and sing about it at your favorite coffee shop.’
      • ‘But its author, Thomas Bracken, may have had very different sentiments when he wrote it, some time before it was set to music in 1876.’
      • ‘The song was slow, quiet, the notes stringing together perfectly to form a peaceful melody, one that left him wondering what words could be set to such beautiful music.’
      • ‘Many such lyrics were set to music, the basic unit being of three beats, which appeared suddenly in 1150.’
      • ‘You could even speed it up and set it to rinky-dink piano music.’
      • ‘The four verses have been set to the music of an ancient harp.’
      • ‘Although some carols can trace their roots back to the early 16th century, the winner was set to music less than 100 years ago.’
      • ‘The moral may have become muddled over the centuries, but the music the story is set to remains wonderful.’
      • ‘The process of setting them to music started in 2001 and the recording began in 2002.’
      • ‘Now we can wring a bit more out of an idea, by setting it to music.’
    • 2Begin doing something vigorously.

      ‘she set to with bleach and scouring pads to make the vases spotless’
      • ‘He exits the room, locking it behind him, and sets to find Basil's things so he can burn them.’
      • ‘He bows good bye and sets to climb down the mountain side.’
      • ‘Assuming her son killed him after a fight, she quickly sets to the task of covering up the murder to protect her son.’
      • ‘Later, once I'm fully dressed, I spy on him from the living room, as he dons an apron and sets to the task of dishwashing.’
    • 3(of a dancer) acknowledge another dancer, typically one's partner, using the steps prescribed.

      • ‘the gentleman sets to and turns with the lady on his left hand’
    set up
    • 1set something up, set up somethingPlace or erect something in position.

      ‘police set up a roadblock on Lower Thames Street’
      • ‘An all points bulletin was immediately issued for the car and several roadblocks were set up, but the police came up empty-handed.’
      • ‘In other areas, police road blocks were set up near polls to intimidate voters.’
      • ‘Microphones and lights were set up and cameras positioned in readiness.’
      • ‘He tipped the rifle over the edge of the building, setting the bipod up, and positioned his suitcase as a seat, sitting on top of it.’
      • ‘But in cases of severe repeat offending, a mobile camera operated by police officers will be set up in the area.’
      • ‘Police barricades were set up to keep the crowd under control.’
      • ‘Both carriageways were blocked for more than eight hours and diversions were set up while police investigated the accident.’
      • ‘Central computers could be set up in police stations with satellite computers covering different districts, towns or even single streets.’
      • ‘To spin the wheels, they are set up in position with liquids on the ground.’
      • ‘At the Dubliner that Friday, a massive white tent had been erected in the parking lot, and portable heaters were set up on the concrete to fend off the March chill.’
    • 2set something up, set up somethingEstablish a business, institution, or other organization.

      ‘she set up the business with a £4,000 bank loan’
      • ‘clergy have a prime role in setting up schools’
      • ‘Every working day this year 80 businesses will be set up, so that by the end of the year there will be 20,000 new enterprises fighting it out, according to Bank of Ireland.’
      • ‘Building societies were set up as mutual institutions, which means that those with accounts become members and have certain rights to vote on issues affecting the society.’
      • ‘Some of our main institutions were set up under British occupation in the 1920s, and there is still a British cemetery near Basra.’
      • ‘But other institutions were set up alongside the Security Council, which were also developments from the arrangements of the League.’
      • ‘Nobody, no matter how good she or he is, can be responsible for establishing a programme, setting it up, running it, and evaluating it themselves.’
      • ‘Some rehabilitation centers have been set up by non-profit organizations to help those who escaped.’
      • ‘Many organizations have been set up by Grenadian Americans in the United States whose main objective is to send monies for support back to the Island.’
      • ‘Since then a youth club has been set up and police say the problems seem to have died down.’
      • ‘In England and Wales borough and country police forces were set up under the control of local magistrates in 1835 and 1839 respectively.’
      • ‘Community police forums have been set up in almost every town in the country.’
      1. 2.1Make the arrangements necessary for something.
        ‘he asked if I would like him to set up a meeting with the president’
        • ‘Following six months of meetings and negotiations, an arrangement was set up whereby up to 10,000 farmers had either part or the whole of their debts written off.’
        • ‘Interim arrangements will be set up to cover those currently paying into other acceptable future savings vehicles.’
        • ‘However, an arranged marriage was set up with a cousin, whom she had never met before, in Pakistan when she was 19.’
        • ‘An annual series of meetings will be set up to consider local and regional community problems.’
        • ‘Public meetings have been set up to explain the move to tenants.’
        • ‘At this time, there is a main council meeting, and committee heads go over the budget, then more meetings are set up and the committee heads go over the whole budget, describing line by line what everything is.’
        • ‘We are trying to set a meeting up with residents as we feel we can bend over backwards to meet their concerns.’
        • ‘She did email back to apologise and try and set another meeting up, but I've heard nothing now for 2 weeks.’
        • ‘Follow-up refresher meetings were set up 1 week later, every 2 weeks for 2 months, and once a month for 3 months.’
        • ‘A baggage boss at Manchester Airport was caught red-handed stealing from luggage after a sting operation was set up by police.’
    • 3set someone up, set up someoneEstablish someone in a particular capacity, occupation, or role.

      ‘his father set him up in business’
      • ‘she set herself up as an acupuncturist in Leamington’
      • ‘I guess that tournament has set us up as an established football country in the minds of the rest of the world.’
      • ‘He knew so little about her that he wondered if she might be better off if he sent her back to San Francisco and set her up in her own establishment.’
      • ‘Her father is a rich industrialist who sets him up as a nightclub-owner.’
      • ‘They found that I had an artistic bent and set me up to show a few pieces at a local craft fair.’
      • ‘Now that you are set up with a job and a place to stay you no longer need my tips and advice on breaking into Sydney.’
      • ‘If, as a clergyman, you are set up by society to be bigger and better than an ordinary mortal, how easy it must be to think that you control others.’
      • ‘Here, you learn that he scrounged together enough cash to set you up with a house, basic tools, a cow, and a small farming fund.’
      • ‘They got us working together and set us up with some fine gigs and class engagements.’
      • ‘Darn my parents for their early starts in their careers and their relationship together, setting me up with these ridiculous aspirations and expectations!’
      • ‘‘I suppose that more or less set me up to be more interested in being self employed than working for someone else,’ said Terry.’
      1. 3.1set oneself up as something, set up oneself as somethingClaim to be or act like a specified kind of person (used to indicate scepticism as to someone's right or ability to do so)
        ‘he set himself up as a crusader for higher press and broadcasting standards’
        • ‘I do not need bureaucrats or faculty members from distant fields telling me what to do, especially when they set themselves up as the ultimate arbiters of ethics and professional conduct.’
        • ‘Those post-war idealists were setting themselves up as communicators in opposition to persuasion, which was seen as a manipulative way of treating other people.’
        • ‘Anyway, I'm in no way setting myself up as an expert.’
        • ‘Not that I'm setting myself up as an arbiter of good taste or reasonableness.’
        • ‘It is a bit rich setting himself up as the saviour of devolution when he has done so much to create widespread public dissatisfaction.’
        • ‘He may operate either as a self-sabotaging wimp with a pattern of failure, or he'll be the tyrant, setting himself up as unassailable and perfect, needing to eliminate any threat to his power.’
        • ‘I hate that she opens by setting herself up as being so ‘reasonable’ against the shrieking ‘younger feminists’.’
        • ‘So when anyone sets themselves up as knowing comedy and being able to say what's funny or who's funny, it's always - I tend to be more respectful of the process.’
        • ‘He sets himself up as an expert on matters in which he does not have a clue and confuses Catholics into thinking that geocentrism is a) true and b) matters to the faith.’
        • ‘The President sets himself up as a bold and principled Everyman, so, in theory at least, he cannot back down or lose some of his edge.’
      2. 3.2set someone up, set up someone informal Arrange a meeting between one person and another, with the aim of encouraging a romantic relationship between them.
        • ‘Todd tried to set her up with one of his friends’
        • ‘Lucy's friends have managed to set her up with quite a collection of guys.’
        • ‘Perhaps setting her up with one of his sons would be inappropriate.’
        • ‘I don't even know the girl and she wants me to set her up with my brother.’
        • ‘Several years ago a close friend set me up with her boyfriend's older brother.’
        • ‘I can't believe you set me up with an accountant.’
        • ‘At three o'clock, Kendall decided it was time to temporarily forget about setting her brother up with her best friend.’
        • ‘I've been trying to set him up with Lauren!’
        • ‘His friends get him a nice apartment and try to set him up with a girl.’
        • ‘They were always trying to set her up with a "nice guy," but Kayla was never interested.’
        • ‘"I thought you were trying to set her up with William," Jane commented when they were out of earshot.’
    • 4set someone up, set up someone informal Make an innocent person appear guilty of something.

      • ‘suppose Norton had set him up for Ingram's murder?’
      • ‘If Michael is innocent then he was set up by his friends.’
      • ‘He informed her that Nathan appeared to be setting her up to take the fall for the bank fraud, and advised her to seek counsel.’
      • ‘He claims he was set up by a travelling companion.’
      • ‘Kelly is baffled by his interview, but once the piece goes out he realises he has been set up.’
    • 5set something up, set up somethingBegin making a loud sound.

      • ‘a colony of monkeys had set up a racket in the canopy’
    • 6set someone up, set up someone dated Restore or enhance the health of someone.

      ‘after my operation the doctor recommended a cruise to set me up again’
      • ‘Exercising first thing in the morning will set you up for the rest of the day.’
      • ‘The hearty breakfast will set you up for a day's walking with the dog along the Solway Coast or into the Lake District fells’
      • ‘A Barraquito (coffee, condensed and regular milk, cinnamon, lemon peel and a shot of the local liqueur) will set you up nicely for a visit to the fascinating Museum of Man and Nature.’
      • ‘Ensure you have an ample breakfast to set you up for the ride and have a recovery drink or snack on hand for your return.’
      • ‘Stop for lunch at one of the mountain restaurants, where a hearty helping of the local speciality, Carinthian cheese dumplings, should set you up for the afternoon.’


Old English settan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zetten, German setzen, also to sit.

Main meanings of set in English

: set1set2set3


Pronunciation /sɛt/

See synonyms for set

Translate set into Spanish


  • 1A group or collection of things that belong together or resemble one another or are usually found together.

    ‘a set of false teeth’
    • ‘a new cell with two sets of chromosomes’
    • ‘a spare set of clothes’
    • ‘Some of the toys are considered highly collectable and a full set of toys from the range is highly prized.’
    • ‘Of the last six Christmasses I've spent at home I've collected a full set of the presents I wanted.’
    • ‘Riders would be booked by phone and arrive with a spare set of protective clothes and crash helmet.’
    • ‘There were also three other full sets of clothes that had been in the suitcase, but none were clean.’
    • ‘Each somatic cell contains a full set of chromosomes, whereas sex cells only contain half.’
    • ‘Apparently, none of you know anything about being a parent of a child who collects sets of toys.’
    • ‘Because the batteries in question are standard AAs, I can buy them cheaply, and I can get spare sets and replacements easily.’
    • ‘They have a great toy selection, but they insist on grouping things together into sets, so you can't buy individual figures.’
    • ‘We could transmit it by a set of abridged accounts, with a full set of accounts available on the website.’
    • ‘Shoppers bustled by, some with the full set of designer carrier bags, others with only a bemused frown.’
    • ‘All the trails will be available to collect on a set of cards to accompany the series, enabling you to enjoy them again.’
    • ‘He said he had contacted the printing company and was satisfied that it had produced a full set of ballot packs.’
    • ‘And one of the richest countries in the world didn't even have the decency to give these kids a new set of clothes.’
    • ‘In fact we have separate sets of basic, yet essential, equipment, which are sent to each of the three races.’
    • ‘Fortunately, there were spare sets of clothing for each age.’
    • ‘If hoisting equipment is available, the shipping containers may contain several sets of such elements but it should also be possible to offload these elements by hand.’
    • ‘The company also has floor-mat sets at £45 and boot liners from £22.50.’
    • ‘At last the two governments have issued a set of proposals for the restarting of the political process.’
    • ‘Anyone interested in sponsoring a set of jerseys please contact any committee member.’
    • ‘But cramming the beautiful game onto a set of joypad buttons has always meant compromise.’
    group, collection, series, complete series
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A collection of implements, containers, or other objects customarily used together.
      ‘a fondue set’
      • ‘Looking for old spanners and fondue sets isn't the main reason for my contemplative melancholia.’
      • ‘Although we knew the tone of the evening when someone forgot the caldron and we had to make do with a fondue set.’
      • ‘Most fondue sets have six to eight forks included.’
      • ‘The boot, too, is large enough to carry two sets of golf clubs.’
      • ‘Soccer balls and volleyball sets are on their way to East Timor.’
      • ‘Also listed are bread makers, pasta makers and fondue sets.’
      • ‘He has extra sets of golf clubs for both men and women and a selection of golf shoes in various sizes.’
      • ‘It boasts a ski rental of over 400 sets of equipment, including snowboards, carving skis, snow blades and even some cross country skis.’
      • ‘The pub gave us lots of support and sponsorship including two sets of kit as well as running fund-raising events.’
      • ‘It can be subdivided to create custom compartments for the ideal organization of tools, sets, kits and outfits.’
      • ‘The trunk is cavernous, holding up to four sets of golf clubs.’
      • ‘The company manufactured bathroom sets and carpets as well as rubber-backed rugs.’
      • ‘The one drawback is that there's not enough room in the boot for even a set of golf clubs.’
      • ‘There are now two sets of equipment for collecting litter.’
      • ‘Many people don't realize that a Backgammon set can be used to play a variety of games.’
      • ‘Schools can save for small items like court markers, skipping ropes, cones and bean bags, or larger pieces of equipment including tennis sets, goalposts and hurdles.’
      • ‘Low-tech game systems are especially suited to this sort of contest, because it is easy and inexpensive to produce as many sets of game equipment as are needed.’
      • ‘You can compare the price and style of your luggage set with just a click of your finger.’
      • ‘Garden furniture and barbecue sets which can be easily assembled, are now available at reasonable prices.’
      kit, apparatus, equipment, rig, outfit
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2A group of people with common interests or occupations or of similar social status.
      ‘it was a fashionable haunt of the literary set’
      • ‘However grand the chandeliers and oil paintings, life in their social set seems far from Gosford Park.’
      • ‘He may have come within the orbit of the literary set of which Jonson had been the leader.’
      clique, coterie, circle, crowd, group, lot, crew, band, company, pack, ring, camp, fraternity, school, clan, faction, party, sect, league, cabal
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3British A group of pupils or students of the same average ability in a particular subject who are taught together.
      ‘the policy of allocating pupils to mathematics sets’
      • ‘But his board of management and the school's patron body said that both sets of pupils should be taught religion together.’
      • ‘The government's own research has shattered one of the central planks of his educational philosophy - that the way to raise standards in schools is by putting more pupils in sets.’
      • ‘He said the marking on some papers was ‘scrappy’ and the inconsistent results made it more difficult to place pupils in appropriate sets for next term.’
      • ‘Numerous sets of on-line students and two years later, I knew the training was for real and had more purposes than I could comprehend at the time.’
      • ‘In the top sets, normally the males are applying themselves to the work, rather than taking reams of notes to revise from later.’
      • ‘Both sets of students were overall very positive and hoped that we would offer another such project.’
      class, form, study group
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4(in tennis, darts, and other games) a group of games counting as a unit towards a match.
      ‘he took the first set 6–3’
      • ‘He can climb all over an opponent, and he can fling a game and a set and match away in moment of sheer lunacy.’
      • ‘Winning it back in the fifth game of that set went some way towards helping him to firm up his play.’
      • ‘He found trouble in the third only because of a loose service game to open the set.’
      • ‘The goal is for players to reach the highest score at the end of nine innings or a set of six games.’
      • ‘If each team wins a game, a knock-out set of matches will then be played to decide the winner.’
      • ‘The following vignette moment from the second game of the fourth set was emblematic of vast stretches of the match.’
      • ‘He made his final break in the 10th game of the third set with a spectacular lob and a backhand pass.’
      • ‘A clever lob in the sixth game of the final set earned Johnson a break and the pair went on to take the match.’
      • ‘On the Saturday, he forced the match to five sets and was leading 3-2 before rain stopped play again.’
      • ‘The first two tiebreak sets occupied a total of 2hr 25 min as the opening round match inched along under floodlights.’
      • ‘But he did come back from two sets down to level the match before going down in the decider, broken in the 10th game by a man who had never won a five-set match.’
      • ‘By the end of the three-day visit, they had faced off over 10 sets of tennis, three games of chess, and a round of billiards.’
      • ‘Matches of 27 game sets are vigorously competed among players from the various teams.’
      • ‘At the end of the set of nine games, the player who has the lowest cumulative score is the winner.’
      • ‘Arguably the turning point of the match came as early as the sixth game of the first set.’
      • ‘After dropping the first two games of the third set, she won four in a row.’
      • ‘She was never in the match from the moment she lost serve in the opening game of the first set.’
      • ‘As he raced away with the fourth set, he won all but one point of the last 24 points.’
      • ‘Play ended on Friday night with him up two games to one in the fourth set.’
      • ‘He was up a break in the fourth set and could have taken it to a fifth.’
    5. 1.5(in jazz or popular music) a sequence of songs or pieces performed together and constituting or forming part of a live show or recording.
      ‘a short four-song set’
      • ‘That also didn't go over so well, as they left after a short set of, let's say, five or so songs.’
      • ‘The relatively short set of seven songs makes for a remarkable performance.’
      • ‘There's at least half a dozen anthems in their set, which with a live drummer could be difficult to contain.’
      • ‘In some instances my live sets can end up being the next record.’
      • ‘Their set of songs were played flawlessly and they had a great rapport with each other on stage.’
      • ‘As a result, the band seemed eager to break up the set with older tunes and covers.’
      • ‘And later they confirmed my hunch about their quality by performing one of my favorite sets of the weekend, bless them!’
      • ‘Her set was heavy on the hits, spliced with new songs from her forthcoming new album.’
      • ‘And we became eager to perform the set of cover versions we had put together.’
      • ‘Then, last October, I saw her perform a live set of most of this material.’
      • ‘Mixed into their set were a few new tunes that make me think the forthcoming album is going to be a strong one.’
      • ‘The slower and quieter songs that have crept into the set are only slower and quieter by their own standards.’
      • ‘The weakest point in the set, as so often with gigs from the era, is the start.’
      • ‘They will always be the foundation of the set, but there are some surprise songs.’
      • ‘Polka musicians are expected to play until exhaustion, to dance during the sets of other bands - in short, to be one of the crowd.’
      • ‘I ask him how his set went last night and he says he isn't too sure.’
      • ‘His set, as with most Malawian acts, comprises traditional, gospel-based songs.’
      • ‘The bands play for the densely-packed crowd mass, seething with good times, and come out to bounce around to the other bands when their sets are done.’
      • ‘This is to say, he does an acoustic set as long as most band's entire sets.’
      • ‘Speaking with the band after their set, it became clear that these guys meant business.’
    6. 1.6A group of people making up the required number for a square dance or similar country dance.
    7. 1.7A fixed number of repetitions of a particular bodybuilding exercise.
      ‘making sure that you perform 3 sets of at least 8 repetitions’
      • ‘Perform 12-repetition sets of each exercise below, in order.’
      • ‘Each muscle group should be exercised in three sets of eight repetitions each session.’
      • ‘Perform three sets of each exercise, with 15 repetitions in each set.’
      • ‘Then perform two or three sets of the exercise with your workout weight, eight to 12 reps per set.’
      • ‘One group did one set of eight repetitions, while the other did three sets of the same exercise.’
      • ‘The child should perform one to three sets of each exercise.’
      • ‘Higher reps should be performed with 3 sets per exercise, 3 times a week.’
      • ‘I actually prefer to do a couple of sets of a warm-up exercise for the target muscle, priming my body for the intense work to come.’
      • ‘If you're already training your hamstrings and want a new routine, perform two or three sets of each exercise.’
      • ‘When you perform too many sets and exercises in a given session, you can break down your muscle tissue too much.’
      • ‘In terms of sets and reps, perform at least four sets, and eight to ten reps of each exercise, with a weight that is not too light or too heavy.’
      • ‘Perform two to three sets of 12 repetitions for each leg.’
      • ‘Again, there was a place in the binder for him to record his strengthening exercise repetitions, sets, intensity, and frequency on each day of the week.’
      • ‘Try three sets of 20 push-ups, with a clap at the top of each one.’
      • ‘For strength training, exercises, sets, reps and resistance levels should be included.’
      • ‘One to three sets of each exercise should be performed at least twice a week.’
      • ‘Attempt three sets of 12 repetitions, two to four times a week for each of the following exercises.’
      • ‘It began with players wanting to do weights but not quite knowing what sets, repetitions to do and even the correct lifting techniques to use.’
      • ‘In fact, most gyms and fitness clubs provide cards or sheets on which to record exercises, reps, sets, equipment weight and other details.’
      • ‘Both of you need the right combination of reps, sets and loads to improve muscular fitness.’
    8. 1.8Mathematics Logic A collection of distinct entities regarded as a unit, being either individually specified or (more usually) satisfying specified conditions.
      ‘the set of all positive integers’
      • ‘His work on ordered sets and ordinal numbers is fundamental to the subject.’
      • ‘This is an example of what is known as a fractal set since its dimension is not a whole number.’
      • ‘For finite sets, the cardinal numbers are the whole numbers.’
      • ‘The elements of a model are irrelevant; it is easiest just to take them to be pure sets, or ordinal numbers, or some other type of familiar mathematical object.’
      • ‘For finite sets of finite entities it is easy to prove Cantor's Theorem, namely that the number of members of a set is strictly less than the number of its subsets.’
  • 2in singular The way in which something is set, disposed, or positioned.

    • ‘the shape and set of the eyes’
    expression, look
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1The posture or attitude of a part of the body, typically in relation to the impression this gives of a person's feelings or intentions.
      • ‘the determined set of her upper torso’
      posture, position, cast, attitude
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2
      short for mindset
      • ‘he's got this set against social psychology’
    3. 2.3Australian, New Zealand informal A grudge.
      • ‘most of them hear a thing or two and then get a set on you’
    4. 2.4The flow of a current or tide in a particular direction.
      • ‘the rudder kept the dinghy straight against the set of the tide’
    5. 2.5Bell Ringing The inverted position of a bell when it is ready for ringing.
    6. 2.6A setter's pointing in the presence of game.
    7. 2.7The inclination of the teeth of a saw in alternate directions.
    8. 2.8A warp or bend in wood, metal, or another material caused by continued strain or pressure.
  • 3A radio or television receiver.

    ‘a TV set’
    • ‘He was eight years old when he witnessed the Battle of Britain in the form of Churchillian rhetoric on a radio set.’
    • ‘Knots of people formed on street corners close to anyone who had a portable TV or a radio set.’
    • ‘Early diodes in electronics were made from metal plates sealed inside evacuated glass tubes, which could be seen glowing in the innards of old radio sets.’
    • ‘They were the only ones who could afford the radio sets.’
    • ‘On display on the side walks of a main street are used television and radio sets, refrigerators, clothes, light bulbs, children's bicycles and video games.’
    • ‘In the early morning the radio set crackled into life and the men gathered round expectantly.’
    • ‘The radio wave is picked up by the aerial on your car, and is carried into the radio set.’
    • ‘On the street, people huddled and listened to radio sets.’
    • ‘During the inter-war period, smaller, more robust radio sets, some with crystal tuning, were developed.’
    • ‘A £3,000 investment by Lancashire County Council has paid for the unit, which includes items such as blankets, changes of clothes and radio sets.’
    • ‘It is now the turn of the authorities to start visiting our homes and seal the TV and radio sets, which operate in other frequencies.’
    • ‘Can you imagine my horror when I realised that all three radio sets were pipping at slightly different times.’
    • ‘She and commercials are the only things on television that can get me shouting strangled abuse at the set.’
    • ‘My official birthday present was a new, state-of-the-art digital radio set.’
    • ‘They syphon electricity off some power lines in order to run their hot plates and even a TV set.’
  • 4A collection of scenery, stage furniture, and other articles used for a particular scene in a play or film.

    ‘Behind every actor you'll find props, stage scenery and sets.’
    • ‘He also did sets for Jean Cocteau's play Antigone.’
    • ‘The film is nearly flawless from a cinematic and directorial perspective, with gorgeous scenery, sets, and production design.’
    • ‘Beautiful cinematography done both in Beijing and in Canada lend itself well to the gorgeous scenery and realistic sets as well.’
    • ‘Although they share sets, scenes and characters, the films are genetically ‘different’.’
    • ‘He creates theatrical sets for the familiar scenes, showcasing the lavish architecture of the holy land.’
    • ‘There are gorgeous scenery locations and magnificent sets and a real sense of opulence to the production, as if no expense was spared.’
    • ‘It didn't go toward sets, because most of the sets look like they were stolen from high school stage productions.’
    • ‘Half the film is set in the precincts of a dank and dreary prison, with highly theatrical sets and lighting, and the film is a brutal but stylised vision of the criminal's place in modern society.’
    • ‘He knows how to run his sets and his actors so that by the end of the shoot he has gotten every last bit possible out of everyone involved.’
    • ‘He was commissioned to design a series of stage sets.’
    • ‘His other models form a series of architectural stage sets.’
    • ‘As each of four sets is pushed to centre stage, the garden's usurpation of the kitchen is delightfully revealed.’
    • ‘For all its attention to detail, it's nothing but layers of stage sets.’
    • ‘The stage management team must be applauded for their efficient setting up of different sets after every scene.’
    • ‘The atmosphere of oppression and threat is amplified by the set, a steeply angled roof over a bare stage.’
    • ‘Whether you like acting, amazing sets, or are interested in costuming, there are many elements that may attract you to the play.’
    • ‘Not only is she an extremely hard worker, dedicating many hours of her daily life to doing hair on the sets of film and TV shows, she has a tremendous passion for her work.’
    • ‘Designers too were required for the sets but they had to be designers who would realise what Joan and the company wanted after they had started on the rehearsing of the plays.’
    • ‘He would insist that I still come and watch the shooting even if I was not required on the sets.’
    stage furniture, stage set, stage setting, setting, scenery, backdrop, wings, flats
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1The place or area in which filming is taking place or a play is performed.
      ‘the magazine has interviews on set with top directors’
      • ‘These images bear witness to the pair's physical and emotional closeness on set, but the film was not to go smoothly.’
      • ‘The second meeting was when Professor Hawking came on set during filming at Cambridge.’
      • ‘It is only this year that writers in Hollywood gained the right to be on set.’
      • ‘The atmosphere on set is very relaxed even if the scenes are very dramatic and tension filled.’
      • ‘In spite of the physical demands of the production, however, the actors still found time to have a few chuckles on set.’
      • ‘I don't care about my trailer; I really enjoy hanging around with the crew and actors on set.’
      • ‘Battles on set were still being fought in the dressing room at the end of the day.’
      • ‘By the time the actors arrive on set, Allen evidently knows what he wants to do.’
      • ‘On set or location he does enjoy a challenge, and he loves the life of an actor and wouldn't swap it.’
      • ‘So for the party interior scenes we didn't have a props person or an art director on set.’
      • ‘I only got frustrated being on set, because no director likes being on another person's set.’
      • ‘We had a book on set so we could cross reference their work and we could add little bits and pieces to the film when we saw fit.’
      • ‘As with the rest of cast, filming in South Africa was an adventure both on set and off.’
      • ‘A week later I was on set, about to do a scene, when the head producer walked onto he floor and took my hand.’
      • ‘When you turn up on set, you know you're going to do it and go home.’
      • ‘I don't think either one of us comes to the set, or to rehearsals, with preconceived notions of how the scene is going to be.’
      • ‘I was going to ask what your first day was like, having been on so many sets as an actor - what was it like to be on the other side?’
      • ‘So, we then snuck her onto the set, while we were shooting the scene in the hallway where the ice wall appears.’
      • ‘When we are on a set or at a rehearsal for a stage show, we just do not act as husband and wife.’
      • ‘These are detailed galleries of rare photos taken on the sets of both films.’
  • 5An arrangement of the hair when damp so that it dries in the required style.

    ‘a shampoo and set’
    • ‘Wet sets are a healthy styling option for our hair, so consider using a compact hooded dryer.’
    • ‘A cut, shampoo and set would take about an hour, and a perm would take two hours.’
  • 6A cutting, young plant, or bulb used in the propagation of new plants.

    1. 6.1A young fruit that has just formed.
  • 7The last coat of plaster on a wall.

  • 8Printing
    The amount of spacing in type controlling the distance between letters.

    1. 8.1The width of a piece of type.
  • 9

    variant spelling of sett

  • 10Snooker

    another term for plant (sense 4 of the noun)

verbverb sets, verb setting, verb setted

[with object]British
  • Group (pupils or students) in sets according to ability.


    make a dead set at
    • Make a determined attempt to win the affections of.

      • ‘she had made a dead set at a number of other men’


      By association with hunting (see dead set above).


Late Middle English partly from Old French sette, from Latin secta ‘sect’, partly from set.

Main meanings of set in English

: set1set2set3


Pronunciation /sɛt/

See synonyms for set

Translate set into Spanish


  • 1Fixed or arranged in advance.

    ‘try to feed the puppy at set times each day’
    • ‘I've been doing the set work hours thing ever since my first job, but would so much like not to have to.’
    • ‘It only works as a punishment, with no-one receiving extra pay if they work later than their set hours.’
    • ‘It won't be a case of ticking the boxes, as it is at the moment, and fulfilling a set number of hours of broadcasting.’
    • ‘I'm quite happy doing calls, but the younger ones seem to want to work set hours and that seems to be the view of the vast majority.’
    • ‘And without a set schedule, you can't depend on seeing him the same time tomorrow.’
    • ‘Volunteers are not required to work a set amount of hours or a set number of days a week.’
    • ‘This was partly because I never quite established a set time of day to do these.’
    • ‘They also suggested set times for deliveries outside the busiest times.’
    • ‘In the past, I have hired agencies for a set fee and I never really knew if I was really getting the best bang for my buck.’
    • ‘However, the club has always stressed it is working within a set budget.’
    • ‘There could be Christmas bonuses only if the set income parameters were exceeded.’
    • ‘Then they're unleashed on the boulder and the challenge is to climb the set route in as few attempts as possible.’
    • ‘They insist that their own children do their homework and come home from outings at a set time.’
    • ‘Solicitors are paid a set rate no matter how long a case lasts and delays are at the solicitor's expense.’
    • ‘It paints a picture of real disasters on a global scale, in a set order and with attendant statistics.’
    • ‘The kiln is fully automatic and can be left to turn off at the end of the set time.’
    • ‘Parents are warned they may face court action if their children do not meet a set attendance target.’
    • ‘If anyone is not meeting the set quotas, a supervisor is sent out with them to find out why.’
    • ‘If so, is it possible to get unlimited time for a set fee per month as is the custom here in the US?’
    • ‘The youngsters chose an activity in the categories of skills and service, which they do for a set length of time.’
    fixed, established, hard and fast, determined, predetermined, arranged, prearranged, prescribed, scheduled, specified, defined, appointed, decided, agreed
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a view or habit) unlikely to change.
      ‘I've been on my own a long time and I'm rather set in my ways’
      • ‘I don't come in with a lot of set ideas about how the actors will move or what the staging is.’
      • ‘We need a set idea of core values and principles that are not up for discussion.’
      • ‘Everyone, from the chief executive down, had become trapped in a set pattern of behaviour.’
      inflexible, rigid, fixed, firm, deep-rooted, deep-seated, ingrained, entrenched, unchangeable
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2(of a person's expression) held for an unnaturally long time without changing, typically as a reflection of determination.
      ‘Iris was staring in front of her with a set expression’
      • ‘Matt was now quickly walking over to her and Johnny with a set expression on his face.’
    3. 1.3(of a meal or menu in a restaurant) offered at a fixed price with a limited choice of dishes.
      ‘a three-course set menu’
      • ‘There are several specials, dozens of curries and lots of side dishes, together with set meals for two or four people.’
      • ‘A set meal was given at lunch time after the supplement to subjects who had fasted overnight.’
      • ‘Go for the set meals and book in advance as all the restaurants (there are now three of them) fill up.’
      • ‘They offer a set party menu perfect for larger groups to enjoy the bars and club after dinner.’
      • ‘We then went to a Chinese restaurant and had the set Vegetarian menu.’
      • ‘We were advised to order set meals as the a-la-carte items are more expensive.’
    4. 1.4(of a book) prescribed for study as part of a particular course or for an examination.
      ‘his book is a set text which has influenced countless schoolchildren’
      • ‘Every student on a given course simply has to have at least one set book, and probably several.’
      • ‘A psychiatrist told me he was making the book a set text for his students.’
      • ‘I am inspired to read the book which passed me by as a set text at school.’
      • ‘It is almost like a commercial miniaturisation, or a guide to a daunting set text.’
      • ‘It has also appeared as an A-level exam in England and a set text in France.’
      • ‘This collection ought to be a set text for anyone with aspirations to humorous journalism.’
      • ‘It sounds great to be able to take in all of your set texts, but there is no way you will have time to look stuff up.’
      • ‘The first years at my University, for example, have Lolita as a key set text.’
    5. 1.5Having a conventional or predetermined wording; formulaic.
      • ‘witnesses often delivered their testimony according to a set speech’
      stock, standard, routine, rehearsed, well worn, formulaic, unspontaneous, unoriginal, derivative, conventional, stale, hackneyed, stereotyped, overused
      View synonyms
  • 2predicative Ready, prepared, or likely to do something.

    ‘the first family was set for a quiet night of rest’
    • ‘both are all set to get married’
    • ‘water costs look set to increase’
    ready, prepared, organized, equipped, primed
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1set againstFirmly opposed to.
      ‘last night you were dead set against the idea’
      • ‘The new Bill also makes provision for opt-out clauses for people who are set against their tap water being fluoridated.’
      • ‘Ironically, he lives in a street that seems set against the idea.’
      • ‘Many of us are set against the whole business, and are doing everything we can to put it off.’
      • ‘Mallory had always wanted a tattoo, but since our mom was so set against them she had never dared.’
      opposed to, averse to, hostile to, in opposition to, resistant to, antipathetic to, unsympathetic to
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2set onDetermined to do (something)
      ‘he's set on marrying that girl’
      • ‘The plans were only in their early stages, but Joanne had her heart set on marrying Paul some time next year.’
      • ‘As to the future, he says he is no longer the little boy who had his heart set on playing football in the UK.’
      • ‘It wasn't even the apartment we had our heart set on, it was just one I went to see last Thursday on a whim.’
      • ‘India was a tour that he had his heart set on ever since he was regaled with anecdotes by his father.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, York planners seem set on examining each scheme in isolation.’
      • ‘She is now set on spending the rest of her life with Eric and he travelled to Spain with her when she worked on the movie.’
      • ‘He has had his heart set on launching a punitive war on whatever pretext.’
      determined to, intent on, bent on, hell bent on, committed to the idea of, resolved to, resolute about, insistent about, insistent on
      View synonyms


Late Old English, past participle of set.