Definition of set off in English:

set off

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phrasal verb

  • 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.’
    set out, start out, set forth, sally forth, begin one's journey, leave, depart, embark, set sail
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  • 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.’
    detonate, explode, blow up, touch off, trigger
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    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.’
      give rise to, cause, lead to, set in motion, occasion, bring about, bring on, begin, start, initiate, precipitate, prompt, trigger, trigger off, spark, spark off, touch off, provoke, incite, stimulate
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  • 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?’
    enhance, bring out, emphasize, show off, throw into relief, point up
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  • 5set something off, set off somethingOffset something against something else.

    • ‘any rental paid must of course be set off against any income tax payable’