One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1‘Mike set about raising £5000 to pay for the boy's medical treatment’
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
put the wheels in motion, set the wheels in motion, get down to business, get the ball rolling, set the ball rolling, put one's shoulder to the wheel, put one's hand to the plough, roll up one's sleeves, get things moving
informal get cracking, get one's finger out, get weaving
2‘he was pushed up against the wall as the youths set about him’
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
informal lay into, lace into, beat the living daylights out of, sail into, pitch into, let someone have it, get stuck into, paste, do over, work over, rough up, knock about, knock around
British informal duff up, have a go at
North American informal beat up on, light into
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