setback

[ set-bak ]
/ ˈsɛtˌbæk /

noun

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.

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Origin of setback

First recorded in 1665–75; noun use of verb phrase set back

Definition for setback (2 of 2)

set-back
[ set-bak ]
/ ˈsɛtˌbæk /

noun

Surveying. the interval by which a chain or tape exceeds the length being measured.

Origin of set-back

special use of setback
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for setback

set back

verb (tr, adverb)

to hinder; impede
informal to cost (a person) a specified amount

noun setback

anything that serves to hinder or impede
a recession in the upper part of a high building, esp one that increases the daylight at lower levels
Also called: offset, setoff a steplike shelf where a wall is reduced in thickness
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

Idioms and Phrases with setback

set back

1

Slow down the progress of, hinder, as in The project was set back by the frequent absences of staff members. [First half of 1500s]

2

Cost, as in That car set me back twenty thousand dollars. [Colloquial; c. 1900]

3

Change to a lower level or earlier time, as in We set back the thermostat whenever we go on vacation, or On October 10 we have to set back the clocks. [First half of 1600s] Set back the clock is also used figuratively to mean “return to an earlier era,” as in He wished he could set back the clock to those carefree high-school days. Also see set forward.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.