Definition of set someone/something back in US English:

set someone/something back

phrasal verb

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

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

    ‘that must have set you back a bit’
    • ‘It's one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in and it set us back $35 a night.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That set him back a few thousand, and he started saving again.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A normal brush costs around £1.99, while electric ones will set you back between £15 and £100.’