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[set-bak] /ˈsɛtˌbæk/
Surveying. the interval by which a chain or tape exceeds the length being measured.
setback (def 4).
Origin of set-back
special use of setback


[set-bak] /ˈsɛtˌbæk/
a check to progress; a reverse or defeat:
The new law was a setback.
Architecture. a recession of the upper part of a building from the building line, as to lighten the structure or to permit a desired amount of light and air to reach ground level at the foot of the building.
an act or instance of setting back:
A nightly setback of your home thermostats can save a great deal of fuel.
Also, set-back. a downward temperature adjustment of a thermostat, especially performed automatically, as by a timer.
First recorded in 1665-75; noun use of verb phrase set back Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for setbacks
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But it is as safe to assume that the revolution is irreversible, setbacks aside.

    After the Rain Sam Vaknin
  • Paul Bunyan had his setbacks the same as every logger only his were worse.

  • Our chances were slim to begin, and we've had some setbacks.

    Border, Breed Nor Birth Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • He'd had his setbacks, but none comparable to the recent disasters.

    The Lost Wagon James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • There are setbacks, but then this is true in every form of nervous affection.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
Word Origin and History for setbacks



also set-back, 1670s, "reversal, check to progress," from set (v.) + back (adv.). Sometimes backset was used in the same sense. Meaning "space between a building and a property line" is from 1916. To set (someone) back "cost" is from 1900.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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