There are 3 definitions of set in English:

set1

Line breaks: set
Pronunciation: /sɛt
 
/

verb (sets, setting; past and past participle set)

1 [with object and usually with adverbial] Put, lay, or stand (something) in a specified place or position: Delaney set the mug of tea down Catherine set a chair by the bed
More example sentences
  • Teddy suddenly stood, setting his coffee cup onto the tray as Christopher and Sara looked to him.
  • She stood up after setting her tea cup down on a coaster and walked to the coffee table.
  • Then she stood to set the dish with its few remaining crumbs back on the tray.
Synonyms
put, place, put down, lay, lay down, deposit, position, settle, station; leave, stow, prop, lean, stand, plant, pose, dispose
informal stick, dump, bung, park, plonk, plump, pop
North American informal plunk
rare posit
1.1 (be set) Be situated or fixed in a specified place or position: the village was set among olive groves on a hill
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • The tasteful and triangular green is set bang in the middle of the large village.
Synonyms
be situated, be located, lie, stand, be sited, be perched; be found
1.2Represent (a story, play, film, or scene) as happening at a specified time or in a specified place: a private-eye novel set in Berlin
More example sentences
  • But he sets the film's first act here, and it's obvious where his sympathies lie.
  • The seventeenth century Oxford where the crime writer sets his substantial historical novel is in some ways very similar to Morson's city.
  • By setting the film at this time and place, he illustrated that Sade's fantasies had in fact become a horrifying reality.
1.3Mount a precious stone in (something, typically a piece of jewellery): a bracelet set with emeralds
More example sentences
  • On his right wrist he wore the silver bracelet set with lapis stones, and on each of his little fingers, the gold rings.
1.4Mount (a precious stone) in something: a huge square-cut emerald set in platinum
More example sentences
  • 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.
Synonyms
1.5 Printing Arrange (type) as required: the compositors refused to set the type for an editorial
1.6 Printing Arrange the type for (a piece of text): article headings will be set in Times fourteen point
More example sentences
  • The names were set in 6-point type to fit in the six panels for publication on Sunday, May 30.
1.7Prepare (a table) for a meal by placing cutlery, crockery, etc. on it in their proper places: she set the table and began breakfast
More example sentences
  • Let your child help with meals by choosing foods, preparing food and setting the table.
  • He opened the door for her and ushered her outside where a wrought iron table was set for a meal.
  • I should have asked if he thinks setting a proper table takes no talent!
Synonyms
lay, prepare, arrange, make ready
1.8 (set something to) Provide (music) so that a written work can be produced in a musical form: a form of poetry which can be set to music
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Time and time again I asked myself why I had returned to set religious texts to choral music.
  • This fascinating CD draws on the talents of composers who have set his poetry to music, interspersed with readings from his works.
1.9 Bell-ringing Move (a bell) so that it rests in an inverted position ready for ringing: the ringer gradually increases the swing until the bell is balanced or set
1.10Cause (a hen) to sit on eggs: you had to set the clucking hens
1.11Put (a seed or plant) in the ground to grow: I set the plants in shallow hollows to facilitate watering
More example sentences
  • Plants set too deep or too shallow may start growth but will lack vigor and may die.
1.12 Sailing Put (a sail) up in position to catch the wind: a safe distance from shore all sails were set
More example sentences
  • The sailor merrily trotted off to go and do something else, possibly ease a downhaul or help set a sail.
  • It is hard to get going again, hard to get the sails up and set them after the beatings we got.
  • Being no flimsy dinghy, this sailboat required a lot of muscle to set so much sail.
2 [with object and usually with adverbial] Put or bring into a specified state: the Home Secretary set in motion a review of the law [with object and complement]: the hostages were set free
More example sentences
  • The troops were on their way home a little earlier than planned, and the hostage has been set free.
  • Enormous plumes of choking black smoke fill the sky where the oil has been set alight.
  • I write the opening paragraph, which sets everything into motion.
2.1 [with object and present participle] Cause (someone or something) to start doing something: the incident set me thinking
More example sentences
  • Goods being offered at ultra-low prices should always set alarm bells ringing.
  • The rising oil price is setting pulses racing among economists.
  • He turns a phrase that sets you thinking.
2.2 [with object and infinitive] Instruct (someone) to do something: he’ll set a man to watch you
2.3Give someone (a task or test) to do: schools will begin to set mock tests [with two objects]: the problem we have been set
More example sentences
  • She sets herself ‘tasks’, and likes to do them in the morning before going to work.
  • None of the tasks these men set themselves could be described as easy.
  • His players, those he inherited and those he has acquired, have passed every character test they have been set.
Synonyms
assign, allocate, give, allot, deal, prescribe
2.4Establish as (an example) for others to follow, copy, or try to achieve: the scheme sets a precedent for other companies
More example sentences
  • I felt it would benefit me personally in all future games to set an example and not set such a dangerous precedent.
  • It would set a precedent the whole of football would have to follow.
  • Resourcefulness is their trait and she says the example her father has set is a constant influence.
2.5Establish (a record): his time in the 25 m freestyle set a national record
More example sentences
  • In June another record will be set when five car carriers dock here - the most ever for any one month.
  • He is a special player and setting a World Cup record is a marvellous achievement.
  • He won by a convincing eight shots and also set a new scoring record for his age division.
Synonyms
establish, set up, create, provide, institute
2.6Decide on and announce: they set a date for a full hearing at the end of February
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • To prevent an administrative nightmare, no single date has been set for the changeover.
  • No date has been set for the introduction of the rule change which is being recommended by council advisors.
Synonyms
decide on, select, choose, arrange, schedule; fix, fix on, determine, designate, name, appoint, specify, stipulate; settle, resolve on, agree on, confirm
2.7Fix (a price, value, or limit) on something: the unions had set a limit on the size of the temporary workforce
More example sentences
  • Clearly it is important therefore for you to liaise with your client to ensure the Credit Limit is set at a realistic level.
  • This will execute or abandon the trade automatically within price and time limits set by the user.
  • 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.
3 [with object] Adjust (a clock or watch), typically to show the right time: set your watch immediately to local time at your destination figurative to revert to an old style would be to try to set back the clock and deny the progress which had been made
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Simply put, if you see the dawn, your biological clock sets itself to morning.
Synonyms
adjust, regulate, synchronize, coordinate, harmonize; calibrate; put right, correct
technical collimate
3.1Adjust (an alarm clock) to sound at the required time: I usually set my alarm clock for eight
More example sentences
  • I think my alarm clock is set for 5.30 am, so I'd better get my head down for an early night.
  • 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 eyes must have been more tired than I realised last night and I set the alarm clock for the wrong time.
3.2Adjust (a device) so that it performs a particular operation: you have to be careful not to set the volume too high
More example sentences
  • If any one of those switches had been set the other way, he would still be alive and fitting fire alarms to Kilburn.
  • In the past all I had to do was just set the oven temperature and the length of time I wanted to cook.
  • However, I never touched these controls, which were set by the workers who had used the machine before me.
3.3 Electronics Cause (a binary device) to enter the state representing the numeral 1.
4 [no object] Harden into a solid or semi-solid state: cook for a further thirty-five minutes until the filling has set
More example sentences
  • It tastes fine but I over boiled it and it has set almost rock solid.
  • 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.
  • Once set, you hardened them in the airing cupboard and painted them with the stuff that was supplied.
Synonyms
solidify, harden, become solid, become hard, stiffen, thicken, gel; cake, congeal, coagulate, clot; freeze, crystallize
4.1 [with object] Arrange (the hair) while damp so that it dries in the required style: she had set her hair on small rollers
4.2 [with object] Put parts of (a broken or dislocated bone or limb) into the correct position for healing: he lined up the bones and set the arm
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • The surgeon breaks the displaced bone and sets it into a better position.
4.3(Of a bone) be restored to its normal condition by knitting together again after being broken: children’s bones soon set
More example sentences
  • By that time, the bones had set, so doctors had to break the bones again in order to permit a proper resetting.
4.4(With reference to a person’s face) assume or cause to assume a fixed or rigid expression: [no object]: her features never set into a civil parade of attention [with object]: Travis’s face was set as he looked up
More example sentences
  • When he glanced back at the corner, jaw setting, she laid her hand on his arm.
  • 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.
  • 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.
4.5(Of a hunting dog) adopt a rigid attitude indicating the presence of game.
5 [no object] (Of the sun, moon, or another celestial body) appear to move towards and below the earth’s horizon as the earth rotates: the sun was setting and a warm red glow filled the sky
More example sentences
  • 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 over the horizon, and the skies were stained with faint pinks and lavenders and blues.
  • Slowly she began to draw a wolf on a cliff looking down on the land below with the sun setting.
Synonyms
go down, sink, dip below the horizon; vanish, disappear, subside, decline
6 [no 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
7 [with object] chiefly North American Start (a fire): the school had been broken into and the fire had been set
More example sentences
  • He was arrested last week for allegedly setting the fire.
  • Have you ever heard of him throwing televisions out of the hotel windows and setting fires and doing this and that?
  • He has, apparently burst out of a burning building, from a fire he set himself.
8 [with object] (Of blossom or a tree) form into or produce (fruit): wait until first flowers have set fruit before planting out the peppers
More example sentences
  • Hand-pollinated flowers always set fruit whilst unpollinated flowers did not form any capsules.
  • The tree sets heavy crops of medium to large fruits.
  • Other authors, have also reported low fractions of flowers setting fruit in pepper.
8.1 [no object] (Of fruit) develop from blossom: once fruits have set, feed weekly with a high potash liquid tomato fertilizer
More example sentences
  • Fertilize during the growing season, but to avoid excessive vegetative growth and fewer blooms, do not overapply nitrogen after the first fruit sets.
  • He applies a third of each plant's yearly allotment before spring growth starts and the rest after fruit sets.
  • Alex rang in with problem tomatoes - he had good flowers but the fruit is not setting.
8.2(Of a plant) produce (seed): the herb has flowered and started to set seed
More example sentences
  • Simply cut the heads in July and August before the flower sets seeds.
  • 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.
9 [no object] dialect Sit: the rest of them people just set there goggle-eyed for a minute
More example sentences
  • She had several picnic tables setting out in the yard and the grill was setting nearby too.
  • Let set for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it.

Origin

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

Phrases

set one's heart (or hopes) on

Have a strong desire for or to do: she had her heart set on going to university
More example sentences
  • I am recently out of a relationship with a man that I had set my heart on marrying.
  • Up to this point in my life, I had never come close to anything I had set my heart on.
Synonyms

set sail

Hoist the sails of a boat.
More example sentences
  • First, we should have checked the boat over closely before setting sail.
  • 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.
  • We were waiting to pull up the anchor and, preparing to set sail, hoping to find land once again.
Begin a voyage: tomorrow we set sail for France
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.

set one's teeth

Clench one’s teeth together.
More example sentences
  • He set his teeth and stared at her hard.
  • He set his teeth and watched her walk away.
  • Something unreadable flashed across her face, and he set his teeth and whirled around to stalk out of the room.
Become resolute: they have set their teeth against a change which would undermine their prospects of forming a government
More example sentences
  • Here he had succeeded in setting his teeth.
  • 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.
  • Of course you were correct to set your teeth and endure.

set the wheels in motion

Do something to begin a process or put a plan into action: Jane set the wheels in motion to find somewhere small to live
More example sentences
  • Therefore if you are planning to plant in 2004 now is the time to set the wheels in motion.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Phrasal verbs

set about

1Start doing something with vigour or determination: it would be far better to admit the problem openly and set about tackling it
More example sentences
  • She then sets about building the nest laying her eggs as the work proceeds.
  • After breakfast he sets about cleaning his truck till it gleams and drives off to work at a stone quarry.
  • So what he does is identify a specific problem in the workplace and sets about resolving it.
Synonyms
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/set the wheels in motion, get down to business, get/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
formal commence
2British informal Attack (someone): the policeman began to set about him with his truncheon
More example sentences
  • He claimed the cabbie had assaulted him, setting about him with a wheel brace and then trying to run him over.
  • As he tried to recover it, the other side's players thought she was being assaulted and set about him.
  • You cheer when he manages to gain respect by setting about tormentors with a fistful of batteries.
Synonyms
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/around
British informal duff up, have a go at
North American informal beat up on, light into

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
More example sentences
  • It was the bitter resentment of an unhappy childhood that set Butler against all dogma, all overweening authority and authoritarianism.
  • Now, 9 months later, we have a complicated bill that sets New Zealander against New Zealander.
  • There is no place for the kind of Government that sets New Zealanders against each other.
Synonyms
alienate from, estrange from, cause to dislike; drive a wedge between, cause hostility between, sow dissension, set at odds

set something against

Offset something against: wives' allowances can henceforth be set against investment income
More example sentences
  • Offset and current account mortgages work by setting your savings against your borrowings.
  • 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.

set someone apart

Give someone an air of unusual superiority: his ability and self-effacing modesty have set him apart
More example sentences
  • 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.
Synonyms
distinguish, differentiate, mark off, mark out, single out, make different, separate, demarcate

set something apart

Separate something and keep it for a special purpose: there were books and rooms set apart as libraries
More example sentences
  • When we make something separate, we set it apart from the mundane world, dedicating it to the use of the Gods.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Synonyms
isolate, separate, segregate, put to one side

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
Synonyms
save, put by, put aside, put away, lay aside, lay by, put to one side, keep, reserve, keep in reserve; store, stockpile, hoard, stow away, cache, put in a safe place, put down; earmark, withhold, keep for oneself; North Americanset by
1.1Remove land from agricultural production: with 15 per cent of land set aside, cereal production will fall
2Annul a legal decision or process: he applied by summons to set aside the fourth party notice served on them
Synonyms
overrule, overturn, reverse, revoke, countermand, rule against, nullify, render null and void, annul, cancel, quash, dismiss, reject, repudiate, abrogate, remit; Lawvacate, disaffirm
archaic recall

set someone/thing back

1Delay or impede the progress of someone or something: this incident undoubtedly set back research
More example sentences
  • If revolutionary new therapies are delayed or outlawed, we could be set back for years, if not decades.
  • 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!
Synonyms
delay, hold up, hold back, slow down, slow up, retard, put a brake on, check, decelerate; hinder, impede, obstruct, hamper, inhibit, interfere with, frustrate, thwart
British informal throw a spanner in the works of
North American informal throw a monkey wrench in the works of
archaic stay
2 informal (Of a purchase) cost someone a particular amount of money: that must have set you back a bit
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
Synonyms
cost
British informal knock back

set something by

archaic or US dated Save something for future use.

set someone down

British Stop and allow someone to alight from a vehicle: we will set you down at your gates
More example sentences
  • The bus sets you down just outside the casco histórico - the old city - or rather, just below it.
  • 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.

set something down

Record something in writing: that evening he set down his thoughts in brief notes
More example sentences
  • But if he would scarcely answer, because it was set down in his notebook.
  • David Hume set his ideas down here; it was in his home city that William Smellie published the first Encyclopaedia Britannica in the 1760s.
  • 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.
Synonyms
write down, put in writing, put down, put down on paper, put in black and white, jot down, note down, make a note of; record, register, log, catalogue, tabulate
Establish something as a rule or principle to be followed: the Association set down codes of practice for all members to comply with
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Some new rules have been set down as a result of this year's congress meeting.
Synonyms
formulate, draw up, establish, frame; lay down, determine, fix, stipulate, specify, codify, prescribe, impose, ordain

set forth (or forward)

archaic Begin a journey: we set forth to enjoy the countryside
More example sentences
  • Many have set forth on great journeys from New York, of course.
  • At the bottom of this picture two carriages set forth at dawn on the journey home under armed escort.
  • 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.
Synonyms
set out, set off, start out, sally forth, begin one's journey, leave, depart, set sail
archaic set forward

set something forth

State or describe something in writing or speech: the principles and aims set forth in the Social Charter
More example sentences
  • These principles were set forth in the landmark judgments at Nuremberg, and [are] now embodied in the basic instruments of international criminal law.
  • Five underlying principles are set forth at the beginning of the Framework.
  • Their names are set forth in Schedule A, which is attached as an appendix to this indictment.
Synonyms
present, describe, set out, detail, delineate, explain, expound, give an account of, rehearse, catalogue, particularize; state, declare, announce; submit, offer, put forward, advance, propose, propound

set in

(Of something unpleasant or unwelcome) begin and seem likely to continue: tables should be treated with preservative before the bad weather sets in
More example sentences
  • Before the cold weather sets in, have your central heating serviced to ensure you keep your energy bills down.
  • But to get the real benefits of cheaper gas and electricity as the cold weather sets in, it is best to act now.
  • As the boats were being lowered the Tuscania took on a list to starboard and panic began to set in.
Synonyms
begin, start, arrive, come, develop, become established, get under way, settle in
formal commence

set something in

Insert something, especially a sleeve, into a garment.
More example sentences
  • Notice if it has drop shoulders or if the sleeves are set in at the natural armhole.

set off

Begin a journey: they set off together in the small car
More example sentences
  • Drivers are being advised to check road conditions with the Highways Agency before setting off on journeys.
  • The notion that one can set off on a journey and arrive at the promised time is regarded as a joke.
  • About half an hour after setting off a blizzard descended, I couldn't see five yards in front of me.
Synonyms
set out, start out, set forth, sally forth, begin one's journey, leave, depart, embark, set sail
informal hit the road
archaic set forward

set someone off

Cause someone to start doing something, especially laughing or talking: anything will set him off laughing
More example sentences
  • Hunter barely managed to stifle a chuckle, but Brandon was set off into a full laugh.
  • And he starts to laugh, and that sets me off too as I realise what I've just said.
  • He gave a short laugh, which set her off on another stream of uproarious laughter.

set something off

1Detonate a bomb: police do not know how the bomb was set off
More example sentences
  • The bombs are set off by remote-controlled detonators made from simple devices like this car alarm.
  • He instructed me to hold the other bottle, but not to pull it tight, or the lighter would trigger, and might set the bomb off in my hands.
  • Around him, bombs were set off, but he only noticed it because he saw them hitting the dark barrier and creating ripples through the shield.
Synonyms
detonate, explode, blow up, touch off, trigger; ignite, light
1.1Cause an alarm to go off: a smoke detector set off an alarm soon after midnight
1.2Cause a series of things to occur: the fear is that this could set off a chain reaction in other financial markets
More example sentences
  • 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.
Synonyms
give rise to, cause, lead to, set in motion, occasion, bring about, bring on, begin, start, initiate, precipitate, prompt, trigger (off), spark (off), touch off, provoke, incite, stimulate
formal commence
2Serve as decorative embellishment to: a pink carnation set off nicely by a red bow tie and cream shirt
More example sentences
  • Although a feather in the hat would set it off nicely.
  • Pinky mauve or white, the dainty nodding flowers are set off by the beautifully marbled dark green leaves.
  • The rugged foliage is a complete contrast to the delicate, frothy pink flowers and sets them off to perfection.
Synonyms
enhance, bring out, emphasize, show off, throw into relief, point up; complement; heighten, intensify, increase

set something off against

another way of saying set something against above.

set on (or upon)

Attack (someone) violently: he and his friends were set upon by a gang
More example sentences
  • Years ago he and 10 colleagues were violently set upon outside a club.
  • 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.
Synonyms
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
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/around
British informal duff up, have a go at
North American informal beat up on, light into

set someone/thing 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
More example sentences
  • It was also legal to set hounds on injured animals for humane reasons.
  • Young people go around setting their dogs on cats, and it is like a rites of passage.
  • Unfortunately, they were defending their ‘right’ to ride around on horses, setting dogs on foxes.

set out

Begin a journey.
More example sentences
  • So I still shut my door, put my best foot forward, and set out on my journey.
  • 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.
Synonyms
start, make a start, start out, set off, set forth, begin one's journey; depart, leave, get under way, sally forth, embark, set sail
informal hit the road
archaic set forward
Aim or intend to do something: she drew up a grandiose statement of what her organization should set out to achieve
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • What is your project, what are you setting out to achieve?
  • It does not achieve what it sets out to do (to teach the child how to act in society).
Synonyms
aim, intend, mean, seek, have in mind; hope, aspire, want; set one's sights on

set something out

Arrange or display something in a particular order or position: they had a picnic by the river where there was a jetty and rustic tables and chairs set out
More example sentences
  • And you passed this table where all his publications were set out on display.
  • Milk, rice, and Sri Lankan sweetmeats are set out in precise order, along with the slate on which the child will scrawl the letter.
  • 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.
Synonyms
Present information or ideas in a well-ordered way in writing or speech: this chapter sets out the debate surrounding pluralism
More example sentences
  • Nomination details are set out in an information pack.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Synonyms
present, describe, set forth, detail; explain, expound, delineate; state, declare, announce; submit, offer, put forward, advance, propose, propound

set to

1Begin doing something vigorously: she set to with bleach and scouring pads to render the vases spotless
More example sentences
  • He exits the room, locking it behind him, and sets to find Basil's things so he can burn them.
  • He bows good bye and sets to climb down the mountain side.
  • Assuming her son killed him after a fight, she quickly sets to the task of covering up the murder to protect her son.
2(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

set someone up

1Establish someone in a particular capacity or role: his father set him up in business
More example sentences
  • I guess that tournament has set us up as an established football country in the minds of the rest of the world.
  • 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.
  • Her father is a rich industrialist who sets him up as a nightclub-owner.
Synonyms
establish; finance, fund, back, subsidize
2Restore or enhance the health of someone: after my operation the doctor recommended a cruise to set me up again
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Exercising first thing in the morning will set you up for the rest of the day.
Synonyms
restore to health, make better, make stronger, strengthen, build up, invigorate, energize, fortify; rehabilitate
3 informal Make an innocent person appear guilty of something: suppose Lorton had set him up for Newley’s murder?
More example sentences
  • If Michael is innocent then he was set up by his friends.
  • 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.
  • He claims he was set up by a travelling companion.
Synonyms
falsely incriminate, frame, fabricate evidence against, trap, entrap
British informal fit up
informal 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I've been trying to set him up with Lauren!

set something up

1Place or erect something in position: police set up a roadblock on Lower Thames Street
More example sentences
  • An all points bulletin was immediately issued for the car and several roadblocks were set up, but the police came up empty-handed.
  • In other areas, police road blocks were set up near polls to intimidate voters.
  • Microphones and lights were set up and cameras positioned in readiness.
Synonyms
erect, put up, construct, build, raise, elevate; place, put (in position)
2Establish a business, institution, or other organization: she set up the business with a £4,000 bank loan clergy have a prime role in setting up schools
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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 of our main institutions were set up under British occupation in the 1920s, and there is still a British cemetery near Basra.
Synonyms
establish, start, begin, get going, initiate, institute, found, create, bring into being, inaugurate, lay the foundations of
2.1Make the arrangements necessary for something: he asked if I would like him to set up a meeting with the president
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
Synonyms
arrange, organize, fix, fix up, fix a time for, schedule, timetable, sort out, line up
3Begin making a loud sound: a colony of monkeys had set up a racket in the canopy

set oneself up as

Establish oneself in (a particular occupation): she set herself up as an acupuncturist in Leamington
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
Claim to be or act like a specified kind of person: he set himself up as a crusader for higher press and broadcasting standards
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Anyway, I'm in no way setting myself up as an expert.

Definition of set in:

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Word of the day neoteny
Pronunciation: nēˈätn-ē
noun
retention of juvenile features in the adult animal

There are 3 definitions of set in English:

set2

Line breaks: set
Pronunciation: /sɛt
 
/

noun

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
More example sentences
  • Some of the toys are considered highly collectable and a full set of toys from the range is highly prized.
  • Of the last six Christmasses I've spent at home I've collected a full set of the presents I wanted.
  • Riders would be booked by phone and arrive with a spare set of protective clothes and crash helmet.
Synonyms
group, collection, series, complete series; assortment, selection, compendium, batch, number, combination, grouping, assemblage; arrangement, array
1.1A collection of implements, containers, or other objects customarily used together: a fondue set
More example sentences
  • Looking for old spanners and fondue sets isn't the main reason for my contemplative melancholia.
  • Although we knew the tone of the evening when someone forgot the caldron and we had to make do with a fondue set.
  • Most fondue sets have six to eight forks included.
Synonyms
kit, apparatus, equipment, rig, outfitcanteen; box, caseservice
1.2A group of people with common interests or occupations or of similar social status: it was a fashionable haunt of the literary set
More example sentences
  • However grand the chandeliers and oil paintings, life in their social set seems far from Gosford Park.
  • He may have come within the orbit of the literary set of which Jonson had been the leader.
Synonyms
1.3British A group of pupils or students of the same average ability in a particular subject who are taught together: the policy of allocating pupils to mathematics sets
More example sentences
  • But his board of management and the school's patron body said that both sets of pupils should be taught religion together.
  • The government's own research has shattered one of the central planks of his educational philosophy - that the way to raise standards in schools is by putting more pupils in sets.
  • He said the marking on some papers was ‘scrappy’ and the inconsistent results made it more difficult to place pupils in appropriate sets for next term.
Synonyms
1.4(In tennis, darts, and other games) a group of games counting as a unit towards a match: he took the first set 6-3
More example sentences
  • He can climb all over an opponent, and he can fling a game and a set and match away in moment of sheer lunacy.
  • Winning it back in the fifth game of that set went some way towards helping him to firm up his play.
  • He found trouble in the third only because of a loose service game to open the set.
1.5(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
More example sentences
  • That also didn't go over so well, as they left after a short set of, let's say, five or so songs.
  • The relatively short set of seven songs makes for a remarkable performance.
  • There's at least half a dozen anthems in their set, which with a live drummer could be difficult to contain.
1.6A group of people making up the required number for a square dance or similar country dance.
1.7A fixed number of repetitions of a particular bodybuilding exercise: making sure that you perform 3 sets of at least 8 repetitions
More example sentences
  • Perform 12-repetition sets of each exercise below, in order.
  • Each muscle group should be exercised in three sets of eight repetitions each session.
  • Perform three sets of each exercise, with 15 repetitions in each set.
1.8 Mathematics & Logic 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
More example sentences
  • His work on ordered sets and ordinal numbers is fundamental to the subject.
  • This is an example of what is known as a fractal set since its dimension is not a whole number.
  • For finite sets, the cardinal numbers are the whole numbers.
2 [in singular] The way in which something is set, disposed, or positioned: the shape and set of the eyes
Synonyms
expression, look; determined expression, fixed look
2.1The 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
Synonyms
posture, position, cast, attitude; bearing, carriage
2.2 short for mindset. he’s got this set against social psychology
2.3Australian/NZ informal A grudge: most of them hear a thing or two and then get a set on you
2.4The flow of a current or tide in a particular direction: the rudder kept the dinghy straight against the set of the tide
2.5 Bell-ringing The inverted position of a bell when it is ready for ringing.
2.6 (also dead set) A setter’s pointing in the presence of game.
2.7The inclination of the teeth of a saw in alternate directions.
2.8A warp or bend in wood, metal, or another material caused by continued strain or pressure.
3A radio or television receiver: a TV set
More example sentences
  • He was eight years old when he witnessed the Battle of Britain in the form of Churchillian rhetoric on a radio set.
  • Knots of people formed on street corners close to anyone who had a portable TV or a radio set.
  • 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.
4A collection of scenery, stage furniture, and other articles used for a particular scene in a play or film.
More example sentences
  • Behind every actor you'll find props, stage scenery and sets.
  • He also did sets for Jean Cocteau's play Antigone.
  • The film is nearly flawless from a cinematic and directorial perspective, with gorgeous scenery, sets, and production design.
Synonyms
stage furniture, stage set, stage setting, setting, scenery, backdrop, wings, flats; Frenchmise en scène
4.1The place or area in which filming is taking place or a play is performed: the magazine has interviews on set with top directors
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • It is only this year that writers in Hollywood gained the right to be on set.
5An arrangement of the hair when damp so that it dries in the required style: a shampoo and set
More example sentences
  • Wet sets are a healthy styling option for our hair, so consider using a compact hooded dryer.
  • A cut, shampoo and set would take about an hour, and a perm would take two hours.
6A cutting, young plant, or bulb used in the propagation of new plants.
6.1A young fruit that has just formed.
7The last coat of plaster on a wall.
8 Printing The amount of spacing in type controlling the distance between letters.
8.1The width of a piece of type.
9 variant spelling of sett.
10 Snooker another term for plant (sense 4) of the noun).

verb (sets, setting, setted)

[with object] British Back to top  
Group (pupils or students) in sets according to ability.

Origin

late Middle English: partly from Old French sette, from Latin secta 'sect', partly from set1.

Phrases

make a dead set at

British Make a determined attempt to win the affections of: she had made a dead set at a number of other men
[by association with hunting (see dead set above)]

Definition of set in:

There are 3 definitions of set in English:

set3

Line breaks: set
Pronunciation: /sɛt
 
/

adjective

1Fixed or arranged in advance: try to feed the puppy at set times each day
More example sentences
  • I've been doing the set work hours thing ever since my first job, but would so much like not to have to.
  • It only works as a punishment, with no-one receiving extra pay if they work later than their set hours.
  • 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.
Synonyms
fixed, established, hard and fast, determined, predetermined, arranged, prearranged, prescribed, scheduled, specified, defined, appointed, decided, agreed; unvarying, unchanging, invariable, unvaried, unchanged, rigid, inflexible, cast-iron, strict, settled, predictable; routine, standard, customary, regular, normal, usual, habitual, accustomed, wonted, conventional
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
More example sentences
  • I don't come in with a lot of set ideas about how the actors will move or what the staging is.
  • We need a set idea of core values and principles that are not up for discussion.
  • Everyone, from the chief executive down, had become trapped in a set pattern of behaviour.
Synonyms
inflexible, rigid, fixed, firm, deep-rooted, deep-seated, ingrained, entrenched, unchangeable
1.2(Of a person’s expression) held for an unnaturally long time without changing, typically as a reflection of determination: Iris was staring in front of her with a set expression
More example sentences
  • Matt was now quickly walking over to her and Johnny with a set expression on his face.
1.3(Of a meal or menu in a restaurant) offered at a fixed price with a limited choice of dishes: a three-course set menu
More example sentences
  • There are several specials, dozens of curries and lots of side dishes, together with set meals for two or four people.
  • A set meal was given at lunch time after the supplement to subjects who had fasted overnight.
  • Go for the set meals and book in advance as all the restaurants (there are now three of them) fill up.
1.4(Of a book) prescribed for study as part of a particular course or for an examination: his book is a set text which has influenced countless schoolchildren
More example sentences
  • Every student on a given course simply has to have at least one set book, and probably several.
  • A psychiatrist told me he was making the book a set text for his students.
  • I am inspired to read the book which passed me by as a set text at school.
1.5Having a conventional or predetermined wording; formulaic: witnesses often delivered their testimony according to a set speech
Synonyms
stock, standard, routine, rehearsed, well worn, formulaic, unspontaneous, unoriginal, derivative, conventional, stale, hackneyed, stereotyped, overused
informal hacky
2 [predicative] 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
2.1 (set against) Firmly opposed to: last night you were dead set against the idea
More example sentences
  • The new Bill also makes provision for opt-out clauses for people who are set against their tap water being fluoridated.
  • Ironically, he lives in a street that seems set against the idea.
  • This understandably heightens Muslims' sense of the world being set against them.
Synonyms
2.2 (set on) Determined to do (something): he’s set on marrying that girl
More example sentences
  • The plans were only in their early stages, but Joanne had her heart set on marrying Paul some time next year.
  • 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.
Synonyms
determined to, intent on, bent on, hell bent on, committed to the idea of, resolved to, resolute about, insistent about/on

Origin

late Old English, past participle of set1.

Definition of set in: