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[bih-set] /bɪˈsɛt/
verb (used with object), beset, besetting.
to attack on all sides; assail; harass:
to be beset by enemies; beset by difficulties.
to surround; hem in:
a village beset on all sides by dense forest.
to set or place upon; bestud:
a gold bracelet beset with jewels.
Nautical. to surround (a vessel) by ice, so that control of the helm is lost.
Origin of beset
before 1000; Middle English besetten, Old English besettan. See be-, set
Related forms
besetment, noun
besetter, noun
prebeset, verb (used with object), prebeset, prebesetting.
unbeset, adjective
2. encircle, enclose, besiege, beleaguer. 3. stud, decorate, ornament. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for besetment
Historical Examples
  • After a besetment of twenty-four days, Iberville succeeded in extricating his vessel from the ice and passed into the bay.

    Explorers and Travellers Adolphus W. Greely
  • For since he had come out of prison he was every day more subject to this besetment of recalling the past.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
  • From that time she steadily fought against her deadly sin, until its besetment lost all power over her.

    For John's Sake Annie Frances Perram
  • And the curious part of the besetment is that I have known all along that I was killing your love for me.

British Dictionary definitions for besetment


verb (transitive) -sets, -setting, -set
(esp of dangers, temptations, or difficulties) to trouble or harass constantly
to surround or attack from all sides
(archaic) to cover with, esp with jewels
Derived Forms
besetter, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for besetment



Old English besettan "to put, place; own, keep; occupy, settle; cover, surround with, besiege," from Proto-Germanic *bisatjan (cf. Old Saxon bisettjan, Dutch bezetten, Old High German bisezzan, German besetzen, Gothic bisatjan); see be- + set (v.). The figurative sense also was in Old English. Related: Beset (past tense); besetting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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