- constantly assailing or obsessing, as with temptation: a besetting sin.
Origin of 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for besetting
The besetting problem I have with it to this day, is do people want to know this?Daphne Merkin on Lena Dunham, Book Criticism, and Self-Examination
December 26, 2014
My besetting fear was that I couldn't count on her obtuseness.The Greater Inclination
For all the agitation that must have been besetting him, his manner was serene as ever.Bardelys the Magnificent
For the besetting irresoluteness of the Gumthorpes is consuming him.
But if a quick temper was Roger's besetting sin, pig-headedness was Ernest's.The Forbidden Trail
Diderot was more free from this besetting weakness than any of his contemporaries.Diderot and the Encyclopdists
- tempting, harassing, or assailing (esp in the phrase besetting sin)
- (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
Word Origin and History for besetting
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.