See more synonyms for beset on
verb (used with object), be·set, be·set·ting.
  1. to attack on all sides; assail; harass: to be beset by enemies; beset by difficulties.
  2. to surround; hem in: a village beset on all sides by dense forest.
  3. to set or place upon; bestud: a gold bracelet beset with jewels.
  4. 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 formsbe·set·ment, nounbe·set·ter, nounpre·be·set, verb (used with object), pre·be·set, pre·be·set·ting.un·be·set, adjective

Synonyms for beset

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for besetment

Historical Examples of besetment

  • 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.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for besetment


verb -sets, -setting or -set (tr)
  1. (esp of dangers, temptations, or difficulties) to trouble or harass constantly
  2. to surround or attack from all sides
  3. archaic to cover with, esp with jewels
Derived Formsbesetter, 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

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