Main definitions of set in US English:

: set1set2set3


verbsets, setting

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

    ‘Dana set the mug of tea down’
    ‘Catherine set a chair by the bed’
    • ‘She then suddenly stood up and set her empty plate and cup near her handbag here.’
    • ‘She stood up after setting her tea cup down on a coaster and walked to the coffee table.’
    • ‘This time, she looked at her watch and stood up, setting money on the table top.’
    • ‘She set the book down on the table next to it and walked over to one of the shelves.’
    • ‘She stood up and nodded, opening her briefcase and setting the valuable papers inside then closing it up with a click.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He sat down and Blair pulled his chair closer, setting his coffee cup on the edge of the desk.’
    • ‘She stood on the chair and set the vase at one corner of the top of the cabinet.’
    • ‘I shook my head, setting one of the cans on the nearest piece of furniture, and opened the other.’
    • ‘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 stood slowly off of my bed, pushing my sheets off of my legs and setting my coffee mug on my desk.’
    • ‘Alex took her by the arm and led her across the course to where he had set his observation station.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Teddy suddenly stood, setting his coffee cup onto the tray as Christopher and Sara looked to him.’
    • ‘Jeremy slides into his chair and Kasey sets the bucket with a dull thud on the floor.’
    • ‘She sets the rest of her bagel down and stands up to face Brian.’
    • ‘He stood, setting his wine glass down on the coffee table and taking a long drag of his cigarette.’
    • ‘She sat down in her designated chair and pulled out her cello, setting her sheet music on the stand and then tuning her instrument.’
    put, place, put down, lay, lay down, deposit, position, settle, station
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1be set Be situated or fixed in a specified place or position.
      ‘the village was set among olive groves on a hill’
      • ‘An arc of deep locks, set among lawns, lowers it at last to join its western river.’
      • ‘The tasteful and triangular green is set bang in the middle of the large village.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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
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    2. 1.2 Represent (a story, play, movie, or scene) as happening at a specified time or in a specified place.
      ‘a spy novel set in Berlin’
      • ‘The film is set at a time when an abrupt climate change has cataclysmic consequences for the entire planet.’
      • ‘The film is set during the 1930s, at an unnamed school, a thinly disguised version of Eton.’
      • ‘The director chose his season well in setting Turning Paige near the end of winter.’
      • ‘His last film, Dirty Pretty Things, was set among London's exploited illegal immigrants.’
      • ‘If it provides some anxiousness in the viewer why not set the film there.’
      • ‘The movie is set against the backdrop of Apollo 11's landing on the moon.’
      • ‘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 is actually set just over one weekend in the characters' lives.’
      • ‘The film will be set and shot in Beijing and in the wealthy southern city of Shenzhen.’
      • ‘The seventeenth century Oxford where the crime writer sets his substantial historical novel is in some ways very similar to Morson's city.’
      • ‘You'll even be able to state where you'd prefer a story to be set: in a mythical or a real place.’
      • ‘Mill Road, where the story is set, is far from the research and learning that goes on way beyond.’
      • ‘But he sets the film's first act here, and it's obvious where his sympathies lie.’
      • ‘By setting the film at this time and place, he illustrated that Sade's fantasies had in fact become a horrifying reality.’
      • ‘It's a very funny black comedy of manners set among the south London demimonde.’
      • ‘It stands to reason that had the series been set today, Laura would have had a weblog, not a diary.’
    3. 1.3 Mount a precious stone in (something, typically a piece of jewelry)
      ‘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. 1.4 Mount (a precious stone) in something.
      • ‘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.
    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. 1.7 Prepare (a table) for a meal by placing cutlery, dishes, etc., on it in their proper places.
      • ‘Luckily, Robin came back and informed us that the table had been set and it was time to dig in.’
      • ‘I should have asked if he thinks setting a proper table takes no talent!’
      • ‘He opened the door for her and ushered her outside where a wrought iron table was set for a meal.’
      • ‘Dinner was to be in the Monarch Room where the dinner tables were so elegantly set.’
      • ‘Let your child help with meals by choosing foods, preparing food and setting the table.’
      • ‘Ryan laughed a little and then stood up, and we walked downstairs to find Loretta setting the table.’
      • ‘The large glass dining room table has been meticulously set by Renate, the maid.’
      • ‘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
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    8. 1.8set something to Provide (music) so that a written work can be produced in a musical form.
      ‘she set his poem to music’
      • ‘The process of setting them to music started in 2001 and the recording began in 2002.’
      • ‘Although some carols can trace their roots back to the early 16th century, the winner was set to music less than 100 years ago.’
      • ‘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 song-poem companies put little notices in magazines, offering to set your words to music.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 four verses have been set to the music of an ancient harp.’
      • ‘Time and time again I asked myself why I had returned to set religious texts to choral music.’
      • ‘Dylan set words to music in a way that no one had done before.’
      • ‘A friend of his asked him to set her poem to music, and he has done so really well!’
      • ‘The moral may have become muddled over the centuries, but the music the story is set to remains wonderful.’
      • ‘If you take a distinguished poem and set it to magnificent music you can make a beautiful song.’
      • ‘You could even speed it up and set it to rinky-dink piano music.’
      • ‘But setting show-stoppers to rock music has its own pitfalls.’
      • ‘Now we can wring a bit more out of an idea, by setting it to music.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Many such lyrics were set to music, the basic unit being of three beats, which appeared suddenly in 1150.’
      • ‘The trouble starts when he sets them to music without the full support and musical ideas of his colleagues.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This fascinating CD draws on the talents of composers who have set his poetry to music, interspersed with readings from his works.’
    9. 1.9no object (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’
    10. 1.10 Cause (a hen) to sit on eggs.
    11. 1.11 Put (a seed or plant) in the ground to grow.
      • ‘Plants set too deep or too shallow may start growth but will lack vigor and may die.’
    12. 1.12Sailing Put (a sail) up in position to catch the wind.
      ‘a safe distance from shore all sails were set’
      See also set sail below
      • ‘Being no flimsy dinghy, this sailboat required a lot of muscle to set so much sail.’
      • ‘It is hard to get going again, hard to get the sails up and set them after the beatings we got.’
      • ‘The sailor merrily trotted off to go and do something else, possibly ease a downhaul or help set a sail.’
  • 2with object and usually with adverbial Put or bring into a specified state.

    with object and complement ‘the hostages were set free’
    ‘plunging oil prices set in motion an economic collapse in Houston’
    • ‘They set the stage afire with their foot movements.’
    • ‘Rather, being divorced has set both him and his wife free to do whatever they want.’
    • ‘I write the opening paragraph, which sets everything into motion.’
    • ‘When Carlos ordered him out of his house, he returned and set it aflame.’
    • ‘The felled timber and leaves are piled high in 1km rows as far as the eye can see, ready to be set alight.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The masses of flesh, once set in motion, were hard to stop.’
    • ‘They say if you love somebody than you have got to set them free.’
    • ‘Then set everyone else free to save or spend to their heart's desire.’
    • ‘Her heart needed to be set at rest over whether she would ever see him face to face or not.’
    • ‘Hotel staff have told Scotland on Sunday that the man can be seen with matches deliberately setting the curtain ablaze.’
    • ‘Maybe they know I don't know and are setting me adrift purposely.’
    • ‘Enormous plumes of choking black smoke fill the sky where the oil has been set alight.’
    • ‘But it hasn't stopped them setting the new media world on fire.’
    • ‘The setting sun set the haze aglow like icy blood, and Rupert gave a shiver.’
    • ‘But it is also interesting how much a single leader can set in motion.’
    • ‘I'm very honored in my position to set music in motion and to help guide it through with the orchestra.’
    • ‘Police believe dissidents deliberately set the car ablaze in the knowledge that someone would contact the emergency services.’
    • ‘The sound of her voice and the look in her eyes set his body aflame.’
    • ‘The troops were on their way home a little earlier than planned, and the hostage has been set free.’
    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. 2.1 Cause (someone or something) to start doing something.
      ‘the incident set me thinking’
      • ‘Another has just opened this week at Hawes which is what set me thinking about this stretch between Colne and Skipton.’
      • ‘He turns a phrase that sets you thinking.’
      • ‘It however set one of my table mates to engage in the unusual act of thinking.’
      • ‘These two events set me to thinking why the two sports attract such different types of behaviour.’
      • ‘That set him thinking on how he was able to string his successes time and again.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘His entry on his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has set me thinking.’
      • ‘So that set me thinking, who would be my top five players to have hailed from these great British Isles.’
      • ‘It was the coming of the new Millennium that set him to thinking about writing a book.’
      • ‘This in turn sets me thinking about the contrast between his domestic style and his current foreign policy.’
      • ‘You may well ask what set me thinking of those teams and days of long ago and the answer is simple.’
      • ‘Goods being offered at ultra-low prices should always set alarm bells ringing.’
      • ‘This set me thinking about whether you could have a comedy without jokes.’
      • ‘It was what the soldiers at the airport said about their wives that set me thinking about this.’
      • ‘The rising oil price is setting pulses racing among economists.’
    2. 2.2with object and infinitive Instruct (someone) to do something.
      ‘he'll set a man to watch you’
    3. 2.3 Give someone (a task)
      with two objects ‘the problem we have been set’
      • ‘He has set himself the task of writing an album about all fifty states in America.’
      • ‘She joined a running club and began setting herself targets.’
      • ‘I can set myself little goals and work to getting back into the side as soon as possible.’
      • ‘However I had set myself a task to at least try to remove the old writer's block which had been looming over me.’
      • ‘So I set myself a program of losing weight and getting rid of the spare tyre around the waist.’
      • ‘The problem is, having set himself this task, Lucas then doesn't follow it through.’
      • ‘The children are given a bag full of scrap material and then are set the task of making their own robot.’
      • ‘The children have now been set the task of designing a new garden around Mr Jordan's tree.’
      • ‘Recently a group of students was discussing an essay they had been set for an English test.’
      • ‘She sets herself the impossible task of trying to prove this to us in a mere six episodes.’
      • ‘None of the tasks these men set themselves could be described as easy.’
      • ‘She sets herself ‘tasks’, and likes to do them in the morning before going to work.’
      • ‘Hundreds of university hopefuls may be set picture puzzle tests before they are allowed on degree courses.’
      • ‘His players, those he inherited and those he has acquired, have passed every character test they have been set.’
      • ‘Writing down the story of my life as it happens is an interesting task I set myself.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is a courageous choice in which he sets himself two tasks.’
      • ‘Thus the object which the inventor sets himself is achieved in an elegant way.’
      • ‘Therefore, he set himself the task of righting those things he considered to be wrong.’
      • ‘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.’
      assign, allocate, give, allot, deal, prescribe
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    4. 2.4 Devise (a test) and give it to someone to do.
    5. 2.5 Establish as (an example) for others to follow, copy, or try to achieve.
      ‘the scheme sets a precedent for other companies’
      • ‘It would set a precedent the whole of football would have to follow.’
      • ‘I frequently refer back to what she taught me and the example she set for all of us.’
      • ‘But it's not for me and it's not a good example to set for easily influenced girls.’
      • ‘I hold out hope that our response will be measured and set a better example than previously.’
      • ‘He could have led the rebuilding effort, setting a positive example and giving the team a chance to win every fifth day.’
      • ‘I felt it would benefit me personally in all future games to set an example and not set such a dangerous precedent.’
      • ‘The center now stood out from the rest of the gym, setting an impossible precedent for any of the other volunteers to follow.’
      • ‘She's deeply troubled by the company's effect on the economy as a whole and the example it sets for other employers.’
      • ‘So what sort of example are we setting for children?’
      • ‘What kind of an example are you setting for our community?’
      • ‘It not only implies ignoring the law, which he has violated, but what example have we set?’
      • ‘Resourcefulness is their trait and she says the example her father has set is a constant influence.’
      • ‘Historians of WWII have largely focused on women setting precedents and being able to join the boys in moving into paid wartime work.’
      • ‘I'm not sure this sets such a bad precedent, frankly.’
      • ‘We must stop setting them a bad example by following policies that are unnecessary, and cruel.’
      • ‘Yet any errant athlete will now be entitled to conclude that a precedent has been set.’
      • ‘With the examples set at the top by the people in real power, it makes local behaviour very mundane.’
      • ‘Since the Congress party is led by a woman, it's in a unique position to set an example.’
      • ‘She replied that she'd obviously missed it, but that maybe I ought to set more of an example.’
      • ‘Besides hooking up with all the hot skater guys, do you think your character sets a positive example for girl skaters?’
    6. 2.6 Establish (a record)
      ‘his time in the 25-meter freestyle set a national record’
      • ‘Were there new records to be set or would old records still hold their own?’
      • ‘So I did, and in seventh grade I ended up setting a school record.’
      • ‘He won by a convincing eight shots and also set a new scoring record for his age division.’
      • ‘She had been in flight for the best part of 45 minutes, and records were being set.’
      • ‘It is hoped that a new world record will be set with thirteen threshing mills operating at once.’
      • ‘They lost two more times, setting a record for the worst start in the proud franchise's 38-year history.’
      • ‘But in recent years her paintings have set record prices for Latin American art.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yesterday marked the sixth day in a row of oil prices setting a new record.’
      • ‘For the past few years, most of the media have tried to make him something he's not, just because he is setting records.’
      • ‘The Angels and Dodgers, in fact, are on the verge of setting a record this year for the most combined attendance in one market.’
      • ‘Yorkshire millionaires are said to be vying for an apartment thought to set a price record for the Sheffield.’
      • ‘Stock prices pulled back slightly after setting new highs earlier.’
      • ‘In June another record will be set when five car carriers dock here - the most ever for any one month.’
      • ‘He finally ended that last week by stealing four, setting the franchise record of 59.’
      • ‘I fancied myself a long jumper in those days, setting the record at my school.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This piece sets a record of frustration for me, personally.’
      • ‘He is a special player and setting a World Cup record is a marvellous achievement.’
      establish, set up, create, provide, institute
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    7. 2.7 Decide on.
      ‘they set a date for a full hearing at the end of February’
      • ‘No date has been set for the introduction of the rule change which is being recommended by council advisors.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The matter is likely to be the subject of a public hearing over the summer, although no date has been set.’
      • ‘No date has yet been set for the court martial or a preliminary hearing.’
      • ‘An official date has been set for the opening of Maldon's Combined Military Services Museum.’
      • ‘He said no date has been set, but it could be heard within the next few weeks.’
      • ‘He will be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court at a date yet to be set.’
      • ‘To prevent an administrative nightmare, no single date has been set for the changeover.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All three have been granted stays of execution and are awaiting dates to be set for their appeals.’
      • ‘At the time of going to print no firm date had yet been set for the meeting.’
      • ‘An inquest should provide answers, but no date has yet been set for the hearing.’
      • ‘The meeting ended with Wednesday May 5 being set as the date of the next monthly meeting.’
      • ‘A Council spokesman said no date had been set yet for the application to be heard.’
      • ‘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
    8. 2.8 Fix (a price, value, or limit) on something.
      ‘the unions had set a limit on the size of the temporary workforce’
      • ‘At the outset, Williams sets three important limits.’
      • ‘If you want people to stop evading fares, stop using your monopoly to set prices so ridiculously high.’
      • ‘In this position Saturn, which sets limits and restrictions, often creates health issues, particularly as Saturn rules your body.’
      • ‘So far, there has been little interest in setting finer limits because the procedure is awkward and expensive to manage.’
      • ‘This difference sets the lower limit on the energy required to produce an alternative fuel.’
      • ‘It cannot be protected through setting clearly defined limits to what can or cannot be said - however generous those limits might seem.’
      • ‘Reserve prices will be set following valuation on the morning of the auction on May 8.’
      • ‘This will execute or abandon the trade automatically within price and time limits set by the user.’
      • ‘For example, the estimated time limit could be set at five days and the cost per night at £200.’
      • ‘The speed limits have been set with the benefit of knowledge of road conditions and minimum stopping distances.’
      • ‘It's the same thing, people deliberately setting prices and inflating charges and stealing our money.’
      • ‘Prices should be set at greater than or equal to long-run marginal separable cost for each product.’
      • ‘It's the only time when the owners of the business can set a preferred disposal price.’
      • ‘Remember to have fun and always set yourself a betting limit that you don't exceed.’
      • ‘If you're selling your home, setting the right asking price can make all the difference.’
      • ‘Speed limits must be set according to the road hierarchy, and people must understand why it has to be so.’
      • ‘Clearly it is important therefore for you to liaise with your client to ensure the Credit Limit is set at a realistic level.’
      • ‘Animals will be on view prior to the auction and reserve prices have been set.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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).’
    adjust, regulate, synchronize, coordinate, harmonize
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    1. 3.1 Adjust (an alarm clock) to sound at the required time.
      • ‘I think my alarm clock is set for 5.30 am, so I'd better get my head down for an early night.’
      • ‘Kids are encouraged to set Windows Update to automatically download and install patches.’
      • ‘It also had Renault's automatic parking brake, which sets itself when you switch off the engine and releases itself when you drive away.’
      • ‘And all good operations involve setting a trap, not trying to get to a necessarily predetermined conclusion.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It turns out men and women can set the alarm clock or preset some radio stations with equal ease.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 bag is packed, my valuables stashed with friends, and the alarm clock is set.’
      • ‘My eyes must have been more tired than I realised last night and I set the alarm clock for the wrong time.’
      • ‘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.’
      programme, activate
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    2. 3.2 Adjust (a device or its controls) 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.’
      • ‘However, I never touched these controls, which were set by the workers who had used the machine before me.’
      • ‘The AquaGate's fan can be controlled by setting one of three speeds.’
      • ‘Scaling, sense of rotation and preset values can be set via the bus, together with code and cycle times.’
      • ‘In the past all I had to do was just set the oven temperature and the length of time I wanted to cook.’
      programme, activate
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    3. 3.3Electronics Cause (a binary device) to enter the state representing the numeral 1.
  • 4no object Harden into a solid or semisolid state.

    ‘cook for a further thirty-five minutes until the filling has set’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Symptomatic clinical problems usually are a result of an exothermic reaction that occurs as the bone cement sets.’
    • ‘Finally, as the concrete further sets or stiffens, troweling operations begin, if required.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Globular proteins partly unravel and become tangled, causing them to solidify, as when egg white sets.’
    • ‘Oddly enough, it is this very latex that prevents gelatin from setting when combined with figs.’
    • ‘Once set, you hardened them in the airing cupboard and painted them with the stuff that was supplied.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When cooked, the filling should have set like a custard and have a smooth shiny surface.’
    • ‘When mixed into a slurry with water it sets rapidly into a uniform, solid, inert mass.’
    • ‘The other type - often set with gelatine or jelly - are to my mind not even worthy of the name cheesecake.’
    • ‘It tastes fine but I over boiled it and it has set almost rock solid.’
    • ‘Cover and refrigerate overnight until the natural gelatin sets.’
    solidify, harden, become solid, become hard, stiffen, thicken, gel
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    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.
      • ‘Plastic surgery, bone setting and cesarean sections were routinely practiced with great success.’
      • ‘One woman's broken thigh bone had been badly set, leaving her left leg at least three inches shorter than her right.’
      • ‘Despite all the medical advances and cool new colours, setting broken bones is still a pretty primitive process.’
      • ‘Some traditional medical practitioners use herbal medicines and set broken bones.’
      • ‘The surgeon breaks the displaced bone and sets it into a better position.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.
      ‘dogs' 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.
      ‘her features never set into a civil parade of attention’
      with object ‘Travis's face was set as he looked up’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Their face tightens immediately; their features fall, the jaw sets and the arms cross.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When he glanced back at the corner, jaw setting, she laid her hand on his arm.’
    5. 4.5 (of the eyes) become fixed in position or in the feeling they are expressing.
      ‘his bright eyes set in an expression of mocking amusement’
    6. 4.6 (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 toward and below the earth's horizon as the earth rotates.

    ‘the sun was setting and a warm red glow filled the sky’
    • ‘The sun was setting and Roy sat down beside her on the bench.’
    • ‘Audiences could look forward to a glorious summer's evening, with the sun setting behind the abbey.’
    • ‘It looked so beautiful with the sun setting at the top of it.’
    • ‘This is the view from The Coven Bedroom Window on Boxing Day morning - that's the moon setting.’
    • ‘By the time they got back to the resort, the sun was setting.’
    • ‘Suddenly she stopped in her tracks and turned to the horizon where the sun was setting.’
    • ‘She stared at the sun setting over the ocean and the moon rising next to the sun, just like she did every night.’
    • ‘There are some questions that can only be asked after the sun has set and the stars have come out.’
    • ‘Her eyes were focused straight ahead on the horizon where the sun would set at any minute.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘We sat in silence until the sun had set and stars began to appear in the gradually darkening sky.’
    • ‘On the rooftop, with the sun setting over the maze of narrow streets below them, they practice their one finished song before the show.’
    • ‘The sun was setting over the horizon, and the skies were stained with faint pinks and lavenders and blues.’
    • ‘The sun was setting briskly over the shimmering ocean horizon.’
    • ‘When she got back, the sun was gradually setting below the treetops.’
    • ‘The sky will be bright when the moon first rises as the sun does not set until a few minutes later.’
    • ‘Slowly she began to draw a wolf on a cliff looking down on the land below with the sun setting.’
    • ‘The group moved in silence till the sun began setting behind the mountains.’
    • ‘The sun was setting, a reminder of the last sunset Solomon had seen.’
    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’
  • 7North American with object Start (a fire).

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

    • ‘Hand-pollinated flowers always set fruit whilst unpollinated flowers did not form any capsules.’
    • ‘It's curious that as many pods as my vine sets, I never see seedlings pop up in the garden.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The tree sets heavy crops of medium to large fruits.’
    • ‘Other authors, have also reported low fractions of flowers setting fruit in pepper.’
    1. 8.1no object (of fruit) develop from blossom.
      • ‘Alex rang in with problem tomatoes - he had good flowers but the fruit is not setting.’
      • ‘Once the flowers have been pollinated and the fruit has begun to set, marrow plants require copious amounts of water.’
      • ‘Fertilize during the growing season, but to avoid excessive vegetative growth and fewer blooms, do not overapply nitrogen after the first fruit sets.’
      • ‘Fertilize your garden before planting tomatoes and again when the fruit first sets.’
      • ‘Get them in now because you want them to flower and the fruit to set before it gets too hot.’
      • ‘He applies a third of each plant's yearly allotment before spring growth starts and the rest after fruit sets.’
    2. 8.2 (of a plant) produce (seed)
      ‘the herb has flowered and started to set seed’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Simply cut the heads in July and August before the flower sets seeds.’
  • 9dialect Sit.

    ‘a perfect lady—just set in her seat and stared’
    • ‘Let set for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it.’
    • ‘She had several picnic tables setting out in the yard and the grill was setting nearby too.’


Set, meaning ‘place or put,’ is mainly a transitive verb and takes a direct object: set the flowers on top of the piano. Sit, meaning ‘be seated,’ is mainly intransitive and does not take a direct object: sit in this chair while I check the light meter


  • set one's heart (or hopes) on

    • Have a strong desire for or to do.

      ‘she had her heart set on going to college’
      • ‘Up to this point in my life, I had never come close to anything I had set my heart on.’
      • ‘I am recently out of a relationship with a man that I had set my heart on marrying.’
      want desperately, wish for, desire, long for, yearn for, be consumed with desire for, hanker after, hanker for, ache for, hunger for, thirst for, lust after, lust for, sigh for, burn for, itch for, be dying for, die for
      View synonyms
  • set sail

    • 1Hoist the sails of a vessel.

      • ‘The sky looked gray and stormy as the company loaded the ship and they began to set sail.’
      • ‘We were waiting to pull up the anchor and, preparing to set sail, hoping to find land once again.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The creaking of the heavy canvas above her as the crew began to set sail brought her back to the present with a jump.’
      • ‘First, we should have checked the boat over closely before setting sail.’
      1. 1.1Begin a voyage.
        ‘tomorrow we set sail for France’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘A ship is anchored and ready to set sail for England on my command.’
        • ‘In 1958, they set sail with the intention of sailing around the world, writing articles as they went.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The Jews of Spain were expelled from their country in 1492, the year Christopher Columbus set sail.’
        • ‘The book ends where most others would begin, as the forces set sail for Troy.’
        • ‘Several passengers left the boat before it set sail, so concerned were they about its instability.’
        • ‘With great difficulty, we pulled up the anchor and set sail towards the sea.’
        • ‘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.’
        set sail, put to sea, put out, put out to sea, leave port, leave dock, leave harbour, hoist sail, raise sail, weigh anchor, put off, shove off
        attribute, put down, ascribe, assign, chalk up
        View synonyms
  • set one's teeth

    • 1Clench one's teeth together.

      • ‘He set his teeth and watched her walk away.’
      • ‘He set his teeth and stared at her hard.’
      • ‘Michael eased off his glove and set his teeth and tensed, and after a moment the tips of his fingers moved.’
      • ‘Something unreadable flashed across her face, and he set his teeth and whirled around to stalk out of the room.’
      1. 1.1Become resolute.
        ‘they have set their teeth against a change which would undermine their prospects of forming a government’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Here he had succeeded in setting his teeth.’
        • ‘Of course you were correct to set your teeth and endure.’
        • ‘She set her teeth, prepared to stomach the insidious insult of her intelligence.’
        • ‘She set her teeth and swung around, pointing the gun at his face.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Cath set her teeth, and didn't go after her any more.’
        • ‘Todd set his teeth and tied one end of the lights to a protruding barrier post, leaning against it to test his weight.’
        • ‘I set my teeth, though my skin was presently afire; all my body afire; but I lay there like grim death.’
  • set the wheels in motion

    • Do something to begin a process or put a plan into action.

      • ‘Satisfied with their enquiries, the members agreed to set the wheels in motion to take the 14 housing estates in charge.’
      • ‘Now she is trying to raise interest to set the wheels in motion on the re-opening of the venue.’
      • ‘Now, almost three years later the singer has set the wheels in motion to put British music back on the American map.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Therefore if you are planning to plant in 2004 now is the time to set the wheels in motion.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • set someone straight

    • Inform someone of the truth of a situation.

      • ‘If that is the case, lets go after them and set them straight!’
      • ‘Thanks to several readers for setting me straight.’
      • ‘On a lighter note, if you ever doubted that some people have far too much spare time, then looking at this will set you straight.’
      • ‘Maybe your brother can set you straight when he gets here tomorrow morning.’
      • ‘But we felt that since you wouldn't talk to her, it was our job to set you straight.’
      • ‘This confused me for a while but I soon found the truth and calmly set them straight.’
      • ‘I think he's right; I should have thought of this myself, but I posted the message with very little reflection, and I much appreciate his setting me straight.’
      • ‘But before you get any strange ideas about this first-class flight - let me set you straight.’
      • ‘Your belt should always match your shoes, and if any of you don't know about white socks with dark pants and dark shoes, click here for an article to help set you straight.’
      • ‘He's had a lot of trouble with her - so much that I don't think setting her straight about our friendship is going to help the situation.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • set about

    • 1Start doing something with vigor or determination.

      ‘it would be far better to admit the problem openly and set about tackling it’
      • ‘After breakfast he sets about cleaning his truck till it gleams and drives off to work at a stone quarry.’
      • ‘Car companies, big and small, embraced the new category and set about creating cars for it.’
      • ‘I arrived in Scotland today and set about exploring the ruins of Tantallon Castle.’
      • ‘In the millennium year the club set about an ambitious task of upgrading their facilities.’
      • ‘She then sets about building the nest laying her eggs as the work proceeds.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So what he does is identify a specific problem in the workplace and sets about resolving it.’
      • ‘I am relieved to see that our government has set about dealing with this problem.’
      • ‘They set about finding out what their peers were eating and the results don't make for good news.’
      begin, start, make a start on, go about, set to, get to work on, get down to, get going on, embark on, tackle, attack, address oneself to, buckle down to, undertake
      View synonyms
    • 2Attack (someone).

      • ‘You cheer when he manages to gain respect by setting about tormentors with a fistful of batteries.’
      • ‘As he tried to recover it, the other side's players thought she was being assaulted and set about him.’
      • ‘He claimed the cabbie had assaulted him, setting about him with a wheel brace and then trying to run him over.’
      attack, assail, assault, hit, strike, beat, give someone a beating, thrash, pound, pummel, wallop, hammer, tear into, set upon, fall on, turn on, let fly at
      View synonyms
  • set someone against

    • Cause someone to be in opposition or conflict with.

      ‘he hadn't meant any harm but his few words had set her against him’
      • ‘This culture courts distrust of other people: making us suspicious of others and their motivations for action, and setting us against each other.’
      • ‘It tries to set us against each other and changes all the time.’
      • ‘Ahab, on the other hand, is a spoiler, whose obsession with the white whale sets him against this process, morally and materially.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You want to know what has set Sir Prescott against me?’
      • ‘Now, 9 months later, we have a complicated bill that sets New Zealander against New Zealander.’
      • ‘It was the bitter resentment of an unhappy childhood that set Butler against all dogma, all overweening authority and authoritarianism.’
      • ‘There is no place for the kind of Government that sets New Zealanders against each other.’
      • ‘All of my instincts set me against the government's proposed move to outlaw incitement to religious hatred.’
      alienate from, estrange from, cause to dislike
      View synonyms
  • set something against

    • Offset something against.

      ‘wives' allowances can henceforth be set against investment income’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Offset and current account mortgages work by setting your savings against your borrowings.’
  • set someone apart

    • Give someone an air of unusual superiority.

      ‘his blunt views set him apart’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He had no distinguishing physical qualities setting him apart from the other Marines.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      distinguish, differentiate, mark off, mark out, single out, make different, separate, demarcate
      View synonyms
  • set something apart

    • Separate something and keep it for a special purpose.

      ‘there were books and rooms set apart as libraries’
      • ‘About 200 seats have been set apart for raising funds for the aged women at Sree Sarada Matam.’
      • ‘Wednesdays and Thursdays have been set apart for counselling in person.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The day of the arrival is set apart for the formalities of registration.’
      • ‘The other section of the photo exhibition has been set apart for ‘Malayalam Cinema’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When we make something separate, we set it apart from the mundane world, dedicating it to the use of the Gods.’
      isolate, separate, segregate, put to one side
      View synonyms
  • set something aside

    • 1Save or keep something, typically money or time, for a particular purpose.

      ‘the bank expected to set aside about $700 million for restructuring’
      save, put by, put aside, put away, lay aside, lay by, put to one side, keep, reserve, keep in reserve
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Remove land from agricultural production.
        ‘with 15% of land set aside, cereal production will fall’
        as adjective ‘using his set-aside acreage to work clover into his rotation’
    • 2Annul a legal decision or process.

      overrule, overturn, reverse, revoke, countermand, rule against, nullify, render null and void, annul, cancel, quash, dismiss, reject, repudiate, abrogate, remit
      View synonyms
  • set someone/something back

    • 1Delay or impede the progress of someone or something.

      ‘this incident undoubtedly set back research’
      • ‘A hamstring problem set him back for a while, but it hasn't been bothering him lately.’
      • ‘I had planned to continue this line of research, but several family situations arose that set me 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.’
      • ‘They really did seem to believe that they could win the championships but the way they lost will undoubtedly set them back.’
      • ‘Attempts to split up a parish council could be set back a year because of administrative delays, campaigners fear.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If revolutionary new therapies are delayed or outlawed, we could be set back for years, if not decades.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Do this and the progress of this city will be set back a generation!’
      • ‘And, unfortunately, this incident is only going to set that effort back.’
      delay, hold up, hold back, slow down, slow up, retard, put a brake on, check, decelerate
      View synonyms
    • 2(of a purchase) cost someone a particular amount of money.

      ‘that must have set you back a bit’
      • ‘That set him back a few thousand, and he started saving again.’
      • ‘Educating a child privately will set parents back an average of £130,000.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A normal brush costs around £1.99, while electric ones will set you back between £15 and £100.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In today's climate dinner for two will often amount to €100 while a few drinks out will set you back about another €50.’
      • ‘The two-day stay at the stupendous villa would have set them back £40,000 had they paid, according to travel industry experts.’
  • set something by

    • Save something for future use.

  • set someone down

    • Stop and allow someone to alight from a vehicle.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The bus sets you down just outside the casco histórico - the old city - or rather, just below it.’
  • set something down

    • 1Record something in writing.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I have yet to set them down, so am unable to defend my dreams and visions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But if he would scarcely answer, because it was set down in his notebook.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘David Hume set his ideas down here; it was in his home city that William Smellie published the first Encyclopaedia Britannica in the 1760s.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Thoughts come fast, so fast that it is difficult to set them down in words.’
      • ‘These words were set down in his famous work, ‘Self-destruction of Self-destruction.’’
      write down, put in writing, put down, put down on paper, put in black and white, jot down, note down, make a note of
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Establish something authoritatively 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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Some new rules have been set down as a result of this year's congress meeting.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        formulate, draw up, establish, frame
        View synonyms
  • set forth (or forward)

    • Begin a journey or trip.

      • ‘Many have set forth on great journeys from New York, of course.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At the bottom of this picture two carriages set forth at dawn on the journey home under armed escort.’
      • ‘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 out, set off, start out, sally forth, begin one's journey, leave, depart, set sail
      attribute, put down, ascribe, assign, chalk up
      View synonyms
  • set something forth

    • State or describe something in writing or speech.

      ‘the principles and aims set forth in the Charter’
      • ‘For convenience both rules are set forth below.’
      • ‘These principles were set forth in the landmark judgments at Nuremberg, and [are] now embodied in the basic instruments of international criminal law.’
      • ‘The moral to the tale is set forth in the well-known stanza.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Five underlying principles are set forth at the beginning of the Framework.’
      • ‘In order to document this important definition, we must look at the precise way in which George sets it forth.’
      • ‘Their positions have been set forth on their Web site.’
      • ‘Not surprisingly, no reference to such an immunity is set forth in the Constitution.’
      • ‘Truths are one thing, the way they are set forth is another.’
      • ‘Their names are set forth in Schedule A, which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.’
      present, describe, set out, detail, delineate, explain, expound, give an account of, rehearse, catalogue, particularize
      View synonyms
  • set in

    • (of something unpleasant or unwelcome) begin and seem likely to continue.

      ‘less hardy plants should be brought inside before cold weather sets in’
      • ‘But to get the real benefits of cheaper gas and electricity as the cold weather sets in, it is best to act now.’
      • ‘It takes a very focused mind indeed to do this without listener boredom setting in.’
      • ‘There must be a commitment to continuous improvement, otherwise complacency sets in.’
      • ‘Surgeons have to remove damaged skin quickly and replace it to prevent infection from setting in.’
      • ‘According to his research, people feel that middle age begins at 49 and old age sets in at 65.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Before the cold weather sets in, have your central heating serviced to ensure you keep your energy bills down.’
      • ‘In the past she has shown she is not easily cowed, but she said a deep fatigue was setting in.’
      begin, start, arrive, come, develop, become established, get under way, settle in
      View synonyms
  • set something in

    • Insert something, especially a sleeve, into a garment.

      • ‘Notice if it has drop shoulders or if the sleeves are set in at the natural armhole.’
  • set off

    • Begin a journey.

      • ‘The notion that one can set off on a journey and arrive at the promised time is regarded as a joke.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are the walkers setting off with their walking boots, backpacks and sticks for a day in the hills.’
      • ‘Three days before we had hammered up from Glasgow to the ferry, setting off an hour late and having to make time.’
      • ‘It recommends setting off east on a train to Harwich, then taking a boat to Demark and heading on from there.’
      • ‘Get a good night's sleep before setting off on a long trip and make sure you are properly awake before leaving.’
      • ‘About half an hour after setting off a blizzard descended, I couldn't see five yards in front of me.’
      • ‘Travellers setting off for the great bank holiday getaway today can expect the busiest roads of the year.’
      • ‘Drivers are being advised to check road conditions with the Highways Agency before setting off on journeys.’
      set out, start out, set forth, sally forth, begin one's journey, leave, depart, embark, set sail
      View synonyms
  • set someone off

    • Cause someone to start doing something, especially laughing or talking.

      ‘anything will set him off laughing’
      • ‘Once I start laughing this hard, anything will set me off.’
      • ‘This remark made me laugh even harder and set her off giggling.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hunter barely managed to stifle a chuckle, but Brandon was set off into a full laugh.’
      • ‘This sets him off on a rant about the new dads and their biographers.’
      • ‘And, since we were already very hyper, it had set us off laughing like no other.’
      • ‘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.’
  • set something off

    • 1Detonate a bomb.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Flour was strewn everywhere, including over two pool tables and six fire extinguishers had been set off.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Powder and water fire extinguishers were set off, door locks smashed, and cupboards and drawers tipped out.’
      • ‘It shook the windows and all the car alarms were set off.’
      • ‘When a suspect's mobile device gets close, an alarm will be set off.’
      • ‘Systems need to be put in place so that information is passed and alarm signals are set off.’
      • ‘The bombs are set off by remote-controlled detonators made from simple devices like this car alarm.’
      • ‘He must have run a red light and set it off I thought.’
      • ‘In typical movie monster fashion, people are killed, bombs are set off, and the monster comes out of hiding.’
      detonate, explode, blow up, touch off, trigger
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Cause an alarm to go off.
      2. 1.2Cause 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
        View synonyms
    • 2Serve as decorative embellishment to.

      ‘a pink carnation set off nicely by a red bow tie and cream shirt’
      • ‘The woodwork is beautiful and it is set off by overhead brass lamps.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘The rugged foliage is a complete contrast to the delicate, frothy pink flowers and sets them off to perfection.’
      • ‘Brick alcoves in the walls are set off with ornamental urns with pot plants.’
      • ‘Pinky mauve or white, the dainty nodding flowers are set off by the beautifully marbled dark green leaves.’
      • ‘Pink daffodils are set off to perfection by perennials with foliage in supporting colors.’
      • ‘Although a feather in the hat would set it off nicely.’
      • ‘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.’
      enhance, bring out, emphasize, show off, throw into relief, point up
      View synonyms
  • set something off against

    • Offset something against.

      ‘any rental paid must of course be set off against any income tax payable’
  • set on (or upon)

    • Attack (someone) violently.

      • ‘Years ago he and 10 colleagues were violently set upon outside a club.’
      • ‘One night I saw one girl just set upon another one and she hammered her.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘He then gave his attackers the wrong number but was set upon again after they realised he had tried to trick them.’
      • ‘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 was set upon by two attackers near his home on Saturday.’
      • ‘As he was running away, Johnny fell to the ground and was set upon.’
      attack, assail, assault, hit, strike, beat, give someone a beating, thrash, pound, pummel, wallop, hammer, tear into, set about, set upon, fall on, turn on, let fly at
      View synonyms
  • set someone/something on (or upon)

    • Cause or urge a person or animal to attack.

      ‘I was asked to leave and threatened with having dogs set upon me’
      • ‘Young people go around setting their dogs on cats, and it is like a rites of passage.’
      • ‘Kindly leave before I set the hunting dogs on you.’
      • ‘I'm sure they'd be happy to set a large dog on you.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, they were defending their ‘right’ to ride around on horses, setting dogs on foxes.’
      • ‘It was also legal to set hounds on injured animals for humane reasons.’
      • ‘The fox refused, however, saying that the man would repay his good deed by setting his dogs on him.’
      • ‘So next time something like this happens should we call on the police to set the dogs on protesters?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A man was left terrified after a dog was set on him by two strangers late at night.’
  • set out

    • 1Begin a 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.’
      • ‘So I still shut my door, put my best foot forward, and set out on my journey.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      start, make a start, start out, set off, set forth, begin one's journey
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Aim or intend to do something.
        ‘she drew up a plan of what her organization should set out to achieve’
        • ‘They have achieved what they set out to and the reasons that took them abroad are no longer valid.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘What is your project, what are you setting out to achieve?’
        • ‘To achieve that they set out to reduce the number of competitors in the market.’
        • ‘It does not achieve what it sets out to do (to teach the child how to act in society).’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘They have not achieved what they set out to do with all these schemes.’
        • ‘We start the story with Joey's arrival in Dallas, as he sets out to seek fame and fortune as an actor.’
        aim, intend, mean, seek, have in mind
        View synonyms
  • set something out

    • 1Arrange or display something in a particular order or position.

      • ‘The tables were set out in the traditional way of all old Universities.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Milk, rice, and Sri Lankan sweetmeats are set out in precise order, along with the slate on which the child will scrawl the letter.’
      • ‘Tables and bullhorns were set out for the protesters in front of the entrance to the building housing the interview rooms.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘And you passed this table where all his publications were set out on display.’
      • ‘Hundreds upon hundreds of simple chairs were set out, but no one filled them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Behind this podium was a private section where tables had been set out.’
      • ‘The rectangular metal tables were set out perfectly, in five rows of five, sitting about eight each.’
      arrange, lay out, spread out, array, dispose, present, put out
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Present information or ideas in a well-ordered way in writing or speech.
        ‘this chapter sets out the debate surrounding pluralism’
        • ‘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 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.’
        • ‘The Council's views on the medical information has been set out in its previous letters.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The aim of this book is set out in Chapter 1 and, accordingly, a preface might seem unnecessary.’
        • ‘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 facts are set out in some detail and I need not take your Honours through them.’
        • ‘Nomination details are set out in an information pack.’
        • ‘These amendments are set out in detail in the commentary on the bill.’
        • ‘They must be construed and then applied to the facts precisely in the order in which they are set out.’
        present, describe, set forth, detail
        View synonyms
  • set to

    • Begin doing something vigorously.

      ‘she set to with bleach and scouring pads to render the vases spotless’
      • ‘He bows good bye and sets to climb down the mountain side.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He exits the room, locking it behind him, and sets to find Basil's things so he can burn them.’
      • ‘Assuming her son killed him after a fight, she quickly sets to the task of covering up the murder to protect her son.’
  • set someone up

    • 1Establish someone in a particular capacity or role.

      ‘his father set him up in business’
      • ‘They got us working together and set us up with some fine gigs and class engagements.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They found that I had an artistic bent and set me up to show a few pieces at a local craft fair.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her father is a rich industrialist who sets him up as a nightclub-owner.’
      • ‘I guess that tournament has set us up as an established football country in the minds of the rest of the world.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Darn my parents for their early starts in their careers and their relationship together, setting me up with these ridiculous aspirations and expectations!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘I suppose that more or less set me up to be more interested in being self employed than working for someone else,’ said Terry.’
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1informal 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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘I can't believe you set me up with an accountant.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘At three o'clock, Kendall decided it was time to temporarily forget about setting her brother up with her best friend.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Several years ago a close friend set me up with her boyfriend's older brother.’
    • 2Restore 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      restore to health, make better, make stronger, strengthen, build up, invigorate, energize, fortify
      View synonyms
    • 3Make an innocent person appear guilty of something.

      ‘suppose Zielinski had set him up for Ingram's murder?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If Michael is innocent then he was set up by his friends.’
      falsely incriminate, frame, fabricate evidence against, trap, entrap
      View synonyms
  • set something up

    • 1Place or erect something in position.

      ‘police set up a roadblock on Tenth Street’
      • ‘But in cases of severe repeat offending, a mobile camera operated by police officers will be set up in the area.’
      • ‘An all points bulletin was immediately issued for the car and several roadblocks were set up, but the police came up empty-handed.’
      • ‘Central computers could be set up in police stations with satellite computers covering different districts, towns or even single streets.’
      • ‘In other areas, police road blocks were set up near polls to intimidate voters.’
      • ‘Police barricades were set up to keep the crowd under control.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Microphones and lights were set up and cameras positioned in readiness.’
      • ‘Both carriageways were blocked for more than eight hours and diversions were set up while police investigated the accident.’
      • ‘To spin the wheels, they are set up in position with liquids on the ground.’
      • ‘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.’
      erect, put up, construct, build, raise, elevate
      View synonyms
    • 2Establish a business, institution, or other organization.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Community police forums have been set up in almost every town in the country.’
      • ‘But other institutions were set up alongside the Security Council, which were also developments from the arrangements of the League.’
      • ‘Some of our main institutions were set up under British occupation in the 1920s, and there is still a British cemetery near Basra.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 rehabilitation centers have been set up by non-profit organizations to help those who escaped.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      establish, start, begin, get going, initiate, institute, found, create, bring into being, inaugurate, lay the foundations of
      View synonyms
      1. 2.1Make the arrangements necessary for something.
        ‘he asked if I would like him to set up a meeting with the president’
        • ‘A baggage boss at Manchester Airport was caught red-handed stealing from luggage after a sting operation was set up by police.’
        • ‘Follow-up refresher meetings were set up 1 week later, every 2 weeks for 2 months, and once a month for 3 months.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Public meetings have been set up to explain the move to tenants.’
        arrange, organize, fix, fix up, fix a time for, schedule, timetable, sort out, line up
        View synonyms
    • 3Begin making a loud sound.

  • set oneself up as

    • 1Establish oneself in (a particular occupation)

      ‘he set himself up as an attorney in St. Louis’
      • ‘Meanwhile, he has reclaimed the house of his maternal grandfather in Maine, and is setting himself up as a private detective.’
      • ‘And then, as one person suggested, he could set himself up as an online retailer.’
      • ‘Back in Britain, he took a college course, but never sat the final exams before setting himself up as a one-man practice.’
      • ‘The same person asked what's to stop someone setting themselves up as a practitioner with practically no training, in effect what quality controls are in place to stop people who are dangerous or quacks.’
      • ‘That, together with media stories about ‘unrealistic earnings’ for self-employed plumbers, is leading to a new generation of cowboys - unqualified people setting themselves up as plumbers to take advantage of the skills shortage.’
      • ‘In the fourth verse we see her trying to find a new job, in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia trying to learn some of those nasty tricks of the trade and setting herself up as a fence for religious and historical artifacts.’
      • ‘I taught for three years, got married, had a child and then when my son Edward was two-and-a-half, I applied to go back to teaching, because my husband was setting himself up as a solicitor in the city and we needed the money.’
      • ‘She can set herself up as a professional dog-breeder (after suitable retraining about dangerous canines).’
      • ‘She sets herself up as Botswana's only female private detective.’
      • ‘Later, he sets himself up as a one-man security firm and is hired to guard a factory whose female director starts an affair with him.’
      1. 1.1Claim to be or act like a specified kind of person (used to indicate skepticism as to someone's right or ability to do so)
        ‘he set himself up as a crusader for higher press and broadcasting standards’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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 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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘I hate that she opens by setting herself up as being so ‘reasonable’ against the shrieking ‘younger feminists’.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
  • set forward

    • Start on a journey.


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




Main definitions of set in US English:

: set1set2set3


nounPlural sets

  • 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’
    • ‘There were also three other full sets of clothes that had been in the suitcase, but none were clean.’
    • ‘He said he had contacted the printing company and was satisfied that it had produced a full set of ballot packs.’
    • ‘Anyone interested in sponsoring a set of jerseys please contact any committee member.’
    • ‘Some of the toys are considered highly collectable and a full set of toys from the range is highly prized.’
    • ‘Because the batteries in question are standard AAs, I can buy them cheaply, and I can get spare sets and replacements easily.’
    • ‘Riders would be booked by phone and arrive with a spare set of protective clothes and crash helmet.’
    • ‘At last the two governments have issued a set of proposals for the restarting of the political process.’
    • ‘Shoppers bustled by, some with the full set of designer carrier bags, others with only a bemused frown.’
    • ‘The company also has floor-mat sets at £45 and boot liners from £22.50.’
    • ‘They have a great toy selection, but they insist on grouping things together into sets, so you can't buy individual figures.’
    • ‘And one of the richest countries in the world didn't even have the decency to give these kids a new set of clothes.’
    • ‘All the trails will be available to collect on a set of cards to accompany the series, enabling you to enjoy them again.’
    • ‘We could transmit it by a set of abridged accounts, with a full set of accounts available on the website.’
    • ‘In fact we have separate sets of basic, yet essential, equipment, which are sent to each of the three races.’
    • ‘Apparently, none of you know anything about being a parent of a child who collects sets of toys.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But cramming the beautiful game onto a set of joypad buttons has always meant compromise.’
    • ‘Of the last six Christmasses I've spent at home I've collected a full set of the presents I wanted.’
    • ‘Each somatic cell contains a full set of chromosomes, whereas sex cells only contain half.’
    group, collection, series, complete series
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A collection of implements, containers, or other objects customarily used together for a specific purpose.
      ‘an electric fondue set’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You can compare the price and style of your luggage set with just a click of your finger.’
      • ‘The pub gave us lots of support and sponsorship including two sets of kit as well as running fund-raising events.’
      • ‘There are now two sets of equipment for collecting litter.’
      • ‘The company manufactured bathroom sets and carpets as well as rubber-backed rugs.’
      • ‘Soccer balls and volleyball sets are on their way to East Timor.’
      • ‘Although we knew the tone of the evening when someone forgot the caldron and we had to make do with a fondue set.’
      • ‘The trunk is cavernous, holding up to four sets of golf clubs.’
      • ‘Most fondue sets have six to eight forks included.’
      • ‘Looking for old spanners and fondue sets isn't the main reason for my contemplative melancholia.’
      • ‘It can be subdivided to create custom compartments for the ideal organization of tools, sets, kits and outfits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The one drawback is that there's not enough room in the boot for even a set of golf clubs.’
      • ‘Also listed are bread makers, pasta makers and fondue sets.’
      • ‘It boasts a ski rental of over 400 sets of equipment, including snowboards, carving skis, snow blades and even some cross country skis.’
      • ‘Garden furniture and barbecue sets which can be easily assembled, are now available at reasonable prices.’
      • ‘The boot, too, is large enough to carry two sets of golf clubs.’
      • ‘Many people don't realize that a Backgammon set can be used to play a variety of games.’
      • ‘He has extra sets of golf clubs for both men and women and a selection of golf shoes in various sizes.’
      kit, apparatus, equipment, rig, outfit
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A group of people with common interests or occupations or of similar social status.
      ‘it was a fashionable haunt of the literary set’
      • ‘He may have come within the orbit of the literary set of which Jonson had been the leader.’
      • ‘However grand the chandeliers and oil paintings, life in their social set seems far from Gosford Park.’
      clique, coterie, circle, crowd, group, lot, crew, band, company, pack, ring, camp, fraternity, school, clan, faction, party, sect, league, cabal
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 (in tennis, darts, and other games) a group of games counting as a unit toward a match, only the player or side that wins a defined number or proportion of the games being awarded a point toward the final score.
      ‘he took the first set 6-3’
      • ‘On the Saturday, he forced the match to five sets and was leading 3-2 before rain stopped play again.’
      • ‘As he raced away with the fourth set, he won all but one point of the last 24 points.’
      • ‘He found trouble in the third only because of a loose service game to open the set.’
      • ‘Arguably the turning point of the match came as early as the sixth game of the first set.’
      • ‘Winning it back in the fifth game of that set went some way towards helping him to firm up his play.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Matches of 27 game sets are vigorously competed among players from the various teams.’
      • ‘Play ended on Friday night with him up two games to one in the fourth set.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If each team wins a game, a knock-out set of matches will then be played to decide the winner.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At the end of the set of nine games, the player who has the lowest cumulative score is the winner.’
      • ‘He can climb all over an opponent, and he can fling a game and a set and match away in moment of sheer lunacy.’
      • ‘She was never in the match from the moment she lost serve in the opening game of the first set.’
      • ‘The following vignette moment from the second game of the fourth set was emblematic of vast stretches of the match.’
      • ‘He was up a break in the fourth set and could have taken it to a fifth.’
      • ‘After dropping the first two games of the third set, she won four in a row.’
      • ‘The goal is for players to reach the highest score at the end of nine innings or a set of six games.’
      • ‘The first two tiebreak sets occupied a total of 2hr 25 min as the opening round match inched along under floodlights.’
    4. 1.4 (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’
      • ‘Their set of songs were played flawlessly and they had a great rapport with each other on stage.’
      • ‘Polka musicians are expected to play until exhaustion, to dance during the sets of other bands - in short, to be one of the crowd.’
      • ‘The weakest point in the set, as so often with gigs from the era, is the start.’
      • ‘And later they confirmed my hunch about their quality by performing one of my favorite sets of the weekend, bless them!’
      • ‘This is to say, he does an acoustic set as long as most band's entire sets.’
      • ‘Mixed into their set were a few new tunes that make me think the forthcoming album is going to be a strong one.’
      • ‘His set, as with most Malawian acts, comprises traditional, gospel-based songs.’
      • ‘Speaking with the band after their set, it became clear that these guys meant business.’
      • ‘The relatively short set of seven songs makes for a remarkable performance.’
      • ‘And we became eager to perform the set of cover versions we had put together.’
      • ‘They will always be the foundation of the set, but there are some surprise songs.’
      • ‘As a result, the band seemed eager to break up the set with older tunes and covers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The slower and quieter songs that have crept into the set are only slower and quieter by their own standards.’
      • ‘That also didn't go over so well, as they left after a short set of, let's say, five or so songs.’
      • ‘There's at least half a dozen anthems in their set, which with a live drummer could be difficult to contain.’
      • ‘Her set was heavy on the hits, spliced with new songs from her forthcoming new album.’
      • ‘In some instances my live sets can end up being the next record.’
      • ‘Then, last October, I saw her perform a live set of most of this material.’
      • ‘I ask him how his set went last night and he says he isn't too sure.’
    5. 1.5 A group of people making up the required number for a square dance or similar country dance.
    6. 1.6 A fixed number of repetitions of a particular bodybuilding exercise.
      Compare with rep
      • ‘One group did one set of eight repetitions, while the other did three sets of the same exercise.’
      • ‘If you're already training your hamstrings and want a new routine, perform two or three sets of each exercise.’
      • ‘Perform two to three sets of 12 repetitions for each leg.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Attempt three sets of 12 repetitions, two to four times a week for each of the following exercises.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Perform 12-repetition sets of each exercise below, in order.’
      • ‘Then perform two or three sets of the exercise with your workout weight, eight to 12 reps per set.’
      • ‘Each muscle group should be exercised in three sets of eight repetitions each session.’
      • ‘In fact, most gyms and fitness clubs provide cards or sheets on which to record exercises, reps, sets, equipment weight and other details.’
      • ‘Perform three sets of each exercise, with 15 repetitions in each set.’
      • ‘Try three sets of 20 push-ups, with a clap at the top of each one.’
      • ‘When you perform too many sets and exercises in a given session, you can break down your muscle tissue too much.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For strength training, exercises, sets, reps and resistance levels should be included.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both of you need the right combination of reps, sets and loads to improve muscular fitness.’
      • ‘One to three sets of each exercise should be performed at least twice a week.’
      • ‘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.’
    7. 1.7Logic Mathematics 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is an example of what is known as a fractal set since its dimension is not a whole number.’
  • 2in singular The way in which something is set, disposed, or positioned.

    ‘the shape and set of the eyes’
    expression, look
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 The 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 The flow of a current or tide in a particular direction.
      ‘the rudder kept the dinghy straight against the set of the tide’
    3. 2.3 A setter's pointing in the presence of game.
    4. 2.4 The alternating outward inclinations of the teeth of a saw.
    5. 2.5 A warp or bend in wood, metal, or another material caused by continued strain or pressure.
  • 3A radio or television receiver.

    ‘a TV set’
    • ‘Knots of people formed on street corners close to anyone who had a portable TV or a radio set.’
    • ‘In the early morning the radio set crackled into life and the men gathered round expectantly.’
    • ‘They syphon electricity off some power lines in order to run their hot plates and even a TV set.’
    • ‘Can you imagine my horror when I realised that all three radio sets were pipping at slightly different times.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was eight years old when he witnessed the Battle of Britain in the form of Churchillian rhetoric on a radio set.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My official birthday present was a new, state-of-the-art digital radio set.’
    • ‘She and commercials are the only things on television that can get me shouting strangled abuse at the set.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 4A collection of scenery, stage furniture, and other articles used for a particular scene in a play or film.

    • ‘He was commissioned to design a series of stage sets.’
    • ‘He also did sets for Jean Cocteau's play Antigone.’
    • ‘He would insist that I still come and watch the shooting even if I was not required on the sets.’
    • ‘As each of four sets is pushed to centre stage, the garden's usurpation of the kitchen is delightfully revealed.’
    • ‘There are gorgeous scenery locations and magnificent sets and a real sense of opulence to the production, as if no expense was spared.’
    • ‘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 creates theatrical sets for the familiar scenes, showcasing the lavish architecture of the holy land.’
    • ‘The film is nearly flawless from a cinematic and directorial perspective, with gorgeous scenery, sets, and production design.’
    • ‘His other models form a series of architectural stage sets.’
    • ‘Beautiful cinematography done both in Beijing and in Canada lend itself well to the gorgeous scenery and realistic sets as well.’
    • ‘The atmosphere of oppression and threat is amplified by the set, a steeply angled roof over a bare stage.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Whether you like acting, amazing sets, or are interested in costuming, there are many elements that may attract you to the play.’
    • ‘Although they share sets, scenes and characters, the films are genetically ‘different’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Behind every actor you'll find props, stage scenery and sets.’
    • ‘It didn't go toward sets, because most of the sets look like they were stolen from high school stage productions.’
    stage furniture, stage set, stage setting, setting, scenery, backdrop, wings, flats
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1 The place or area in which filming is taking place or a play is performed.
      ‘the magazine has interviews on set with top directors’
      • ‘The atmosphere on set is very relaxed even if the scenes are very dramatic and tension filled.’
      • ‘A week later I was on set, about to do a scene, when the head producer walked onto he floor and took my hand.’
      • ‘These are detailed galleries of rare photos taken on the sets of both films.’
      • ‘I only got frustrated being on set, because no director likes being on another person's set.’
      • ‘By the time the actors arrive on set, Allen evidently knows what he wants to do.’
      • ‘When we are on a set or at a rehearsal for a stage show, we just do not act as husband and wife.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘In spite of the physical demands of the production, however, the actors still found time to have a few chuckles on set.’
      • ‘On set or location he does enjoy a challenge, and he loves the life of an actor and wouldn't swap it.’
      • ‘As with the rest of cast, filming in South Africa was an adventure both on set and off.’
      • ‘So, we then snuck her onto the set, while we were shooting the scene in the hallway where the ice wall appears.’
      • ‘It is only this year that writers in Hollywood gained the right to be on set.’
      • ‘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 don't care about my trailer; I really enjoy hanging around with the crew and actors on set.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When you turn up on set, you know you're going to do it and go home.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Battles on set were still being fought in the dressing room at the end of the day.’
      • ‘So for the party interior scenes we didn't have a props person or an art director on set.’
  • 5An arrangement of the hair when damp so that it dries in the required style.

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

    1. 6.1 A 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. 8.1 The width of a piece of type.
  • 9

    variant spelling of sett


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




Main definitions of set in US English:

: set1set2set3



  • 1Fixed or arranged in advance.

    ‘there is no set procedure’
    • ‘Then they're unleashed on the boulder and the challenge is to climb the set route in as few attempts as possible.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They also suggested set times for deliveries outside the busiest times.’
    • ‘Solicitors are paid a set rate no matter how long a case lasts and delays are at the solicitor's expense.’
    • ‘There could be Christmas bonuses only if the set income parameters were exceeded.’
    • ‘If so, is it possible to get unlimited time for a set fee per month as is the custom here in the US?’
    • ‘I've been doing the set work hours thing ever since my first job, but would so much like not to have to.’
    • ‘This was partly because I never quite established a set time of day to do these.’
    • ‘The kiln is fully automatic and can be left to turn off at the end of the set time.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If anyone is not meeting the set quotas, a supervisor is sent out with them to find out why.’
    • ‘And without a set schedule, you can't depend on seeing him the same time tomorrow.’
    • ‘They insist that their own children do their homework and come home from outings at a set time.’
    • ‘Volunteers are not required to work a set amount of hours or a set number of days a week.’
    • ‘Parents are warned they may face court action if their children do not meet a set attendance target.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The youngsters chose an activity in the categories of skills and service, which they do for a set length of time.’
    • ‘It paints a picture of real disasters on a global scale, in a set order and with attendant statistics.’
    • ‘It only works as a punishment, with no-one receiving extra pay if they work later than their set hours.’
    • ‘However, the club has always stressed it is working within a set budget.’
    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.’
      • ‘Everyone, from the chief executive down, had become trapped in a set pattern of behaviour.’
      • ‘We need a set idea of core values and principles that are not up for discussion.’
      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.
      • ‘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 set meal was given at lunch time after the supplement to subjects who had fasted overnight.’
      • ‘We then went to a Chinese restaurant and had the set Vegetarian menu.’
      • ‘There are several specials, dozens of curries and lots of side dishes, together with set meals for two or four people.’
      • ‘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 were advised to order set meals as the a-la-carte items are more expensive.’
    4. 1.4 Having a conventional or predetermined wording; formulaic.
      ‘witnesses often delivered their testimony according to a set speech’
      See also set phrase
      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’
    with infinitive ‘water costs look set to increase’
    ready, prepared, organized, equipped, primed
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1set against Firmly opposed to.
      ‘an approach set against tradition and authority’
      • ‘Many of us are set against the whole business, and are doing everything we can to put it off.’
      • ‘Ironically, he lives in a street that seems set against the idea.’
      • ‘Mallory had always wanted a tattoo, but since our mom was so set against them she had never dared.’
      • ‘The new Bill also makes provision for opt-out clauses for people who are set against their tap water being fluoridated.’
      • ‘This understandably heightens Muslims' sense of the world being set against them.’
      opposed to, averse to, hostile to, in opposition to, resistant to, antipathetic to, unsympathetic to
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2set on Determined 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.