Definition of beset in English:


verbbesetting, beset

[with object]
  • 1(of a problem or difficulty) trouble (someone or something) persistently.

    ‘the social problems that beset the UK’
    ‘she was beset with self-doubt’
    • ‘Agencies are fighting to get boats in the harbour to take them to the marooned populations, but negotiations are also beset with difficulties.’
    • ‘But the effectiveness of schemes of this kind is unproven, and in today's world of unfettered trade flows, their implementation is often beset with legal difficulties.’
    • ‘Britain's nationalised rail system was always beset with major difficulties.’
    • ‘Almost every major building project is invariably beset with difficulty.’
    • ‘The west coast line is still beset with problems over the cost and timescale of a planned modernisation.’
    • ‘The vast majority of them are beset with multiple problems: Most lack job skills and are chronically unemployed or at best underemployed.’
    • ‘The Chronicle claims that ‘other Secondary Schools in the country are beset with similar problems that are waiting to implode’.’
    • ‘Rawlinson's career was beset by difficulties.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, since the assistance comes after the election, independents are still beset by financial difficulties.’
    • ‘She stresses her position as a widow-not only a woman beset by financial difficulties but a woman with no husband to guide her and supervise the family's political role.’
    • ‘Did they solve any social problem besetting equality and brotherhood of human beings?’
    • ‘These were troubled times for Mozart: his father and four children all died, Constanze was very ill and financial problems beset him as the economy took a downturn and musicians found themselves unemployed.’
    • ‘He puts his finger on the key problems besetting the modern nation-state, analyzes them with admirable clarity and then uses such analysis to reach conclusions that are the diametric opposite of what they should be.’
    • ‘It is on this note that the Year of the Child steering committee was formed with the aim to focus attention on children's issues and address the myriad problems besetting the nation's children.’
    • ‘In short, the agenda is all encompassing and all stakeholders should support the process to move out of the current problems besetting the country.’
    • ‘As if the many other problems besetting agriculture at the present time were not enough, the weather is now heaping further woe on those who earn a living off the land.’
    • ‘Everyone hopes that the next president will be able to gradually resolve the problems besetting our country.’
    • ‘The real problem besetting racing will not rear its head in the next few weeks, or even months.’
    • ‘Structural problems have beset tourism for some years now.’
    • ‘Your editorials are thought-provoking in addressing the myriad problems besetting our profession today.’
    plague, bedevil, attack, assail, beleaguer, afflict, torment, torture, rack, oppress, trouble, worry, bother, harass, hound, harry, dog
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    1. 1.1Surround and harass.
      ‘I was beset by clouds of flies’
      • ‘The children, in this region, are besieged by AIDS and beset by hunger.’
      • ‘Their path was soon beset by swarms of Aztecs, who rolled down rocks from the eminences, and grievously annoyed them with missiles.’
      • ‘We were beset by swarms of agitated wasps.’
      • ‘Biting insects are at best a nuisance, but imagine an individual in a hut, sick with a high fever and beset by swarms of biting insects to add to their torment.’
      • ‘There the teen-age detectives are constantly beset by vicious henchmen of a criminal mastermind.’
      • ‘They are beset by terrible dangers.’
      • ‘The sun was gloriously illuminating the two men to the west, though both were beset by threatening dark clouds above them.’
      • ‘It is a grim pilgrimage, a pilgrimage under duress, during which he is beset by threatening forces which he cannot fathom and yet needs to comprehend if he is to survive.’
      • ‘She is beset by threatening men everywhere she turns, men she doesn't trust even as they offer help.’
      • ‘Besides they were beset by clouds of voracious magpies, who were bent on devouring them alive.’
      • ‘Cemeteries are shrouded in mist and beset by locusts.’
      • ‘Living on a dollar per day, our cooking was done out in the open air, beset by flies and mosquitoes, heat and humidity.’
      • ‘The hanging fruit of a dwarf five-in-one pear tree was damaged by birds, after which the damaged fruit was beset by wasps, yellow jackets, flies and gnats.’
      • ‘Even conventional farmers in California, beset by the heat wave there, are learning how fragile those presumptions can be, as they complain of wine grapes shriveled into raisins.’
      surround, besiege, hem in, shut in, fence in, box in, encircle, ring round, enclose
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Hem in.
      ‘the ship was beset by ice and finally sank’
      • ‘The ship became beset in the ice of the Weddell Sea on 18 January 1915 and was crushed and sank on 21 November.’
      • ‘She remains an orphan girl, and, as such, she partakes of the tradition of the orphan girl in the movies: outcast, woebegone, beset on all sides, but plucky and triumphant in the end.’
      • ‘The Polar Duke, our ice-worthy Norwegian vessel, was immobilized - beset, to use the correct nautical term - by enormous sheets of sea ice.’
      • ‘The apartment also had a small built in kitchen, but that was only a small fridge beset by a sink and a washer, all equally dingy and small.’
      • ‘She was immediately beset on all sides as her own group and Liza's group mobbed her.’
      • ‘Mary was still dazed as she found herself sitting in the living room of her own house, beset on both sides by her parents.’
      • ‘A sprinkling of volcanic rock in the Pacific, they are 600 miles east of their nearest land mass, and beset on all sides by seven mighty ocean currents.’
      • ‘Henri inherited a bitterly divided nation, ravaged by international and civil war, beset on all sides by the mighty Habsburg empire, and bankrupt.’
      • ‘Their high king, Vortigern, finding himself beset on all sides by barbarian invaders, hired Anglo-Saxon and Jutish mercenaries from Denmark and north Germany.’
      • ‘Once the ship was beset, they were soon to become close companions of the men trapped on the ice.’
      • ‘The Antarctic winter closed in before Deutschland could escape to lower latitudes and the ship was beset and drifted for nine months.’
      • ‘The ship was beset for nine months during which time they disproved the existence of South Greenland which had been shown on maps since 1823.’
      • ‘The ship was beset by pack ice and drifted south for 12 months, becoming the first exploring vessel to winter south of the Antarctic Circle.’
      • ‘In the middle of February the ship was beset and never got free again.’
      • ‘The ship was beset and drifted for months in bitter cold, heaved upon a mound of ice.’
  • 2be beset witharchaic Be covered or studded with.

    ‘springy grass all beset with tiny jewel-like flowers’
    • ‘For millennia people have been adorning themselves with colorful accessories, made of precious metals, beset with jewels, and decorated with wonderful patterns.’
    • ‘On the upper part of the chariot lay an effigy, representing his person in royal robes, with an imperial crown of gold, beset with jewels of an inestimable value on its head, with a sceptre in the right hand, and a globe in the left.’
    • ‘And when she opened it, she found garments beset with gold and with jewels, more splendid than those of any king's daughter.’
    • ‘Only a costly silver ring beset with rubies that glittered on one finger denoted his status as being above that of ordinary men.’
    • ‘He wore a golden mitre beset with precious stones, and bore in his left hand a golden crosier, and in his right a pair of goldsmith's tongs.’


    besetting sin
    • A fault to which a person or institution is especially prone.

      ‘there was a danger of the country reverting to its besetting sin of complacency’
      • ‘Condoned truancy and absence is one of the besetting sins of the education service.’
      • ‘In her book, the author says: ‘Pride is the besetting sin of the anorexic: pride in her self-denial, in her thin body, in her superiority.’
      • ‘The author asserts that they have difficulty in dealing with temptations and besetting sins because ‘they are both at peace in the world and divided among themselves’.’
      • ‘Wrath is, as regular readers know, one of my besetting sins.’
      • ‘Today they are more conscious of failures, habits and besetting sins which cause enormous guilt.’
      • ‘Nevertheless it is necessary to watch for his besetting sins, and correct them whenever they occur.’
      • ‘They sometimes give way to inconsistencies and besetting sins, and lose their sense of pardon.’
      • ‘The besetting sin of local government elected councillors is that they begin to develop a kind of mini-megalomania - an obsession with their own importance as the lowest of the low of elected representatives.’
      • ‘Yet it's the besetting sin of the professional class to render itself invisible in its own calculations.’
      • ‘He has a piece in today's Washington Post in which he argues that the besetting sin of today's journalists is arrogance.’
      • ‘Yet Paul's besetting sin is apparently covetousness.’
      • ‘His theory is that the Party's besetting sin over the past few decades has been snobbery.’
      • ‘Such behaviour is the besetting sin of psychology and renders science in the field concerned impossible.’
      • ‘To subject a decision of the court or tribunal below to too narrow a textual analysis is a besetting sin for the appellate court.’
      • ‘This was one of the besetting sins of the Pharisees.’
      • ‘The besetting sins of oppressed people may include self-denial, passivity and complicity in their own oppression.’


Old English besettan, from be-‘about’ + settan (see set).