1. station(def 14a).
  2. a surveying instrument precisely positioned for observations from a station.
  3. a gap between the end of a chain or tape being used for a measurement and the point toward which it is laid.

Nearby words

  1. set-in sleeve,
  2. set-jetting,
  3. set-off,
  4. set-to,
  5. set-top box,
  6. seta,
  7. setaceous,
  8. setaceously,
  9. setaria,
  10. setback



verb (used with object), set, set·ting.

to put (something or someone) in a particular place: to set a vase on a table.
to place in a particular position or posture: Set the baby on his feet.
to place in some relation to something or someone: We set a supervisor over the new workers.
to put into some condition: to set a house on fire.
to put or apply: to set fire to a house.
to put in the proper position: to set a chair back on its feet.
to put in the proper or desired order or condition for use: to set a trap.
to distribute or arrange china, silver, etc., for use on (a table): to set the table for dinner.
to place (the hair, especially when wet) on rollers, in clips, or the like, so that the hair will assume a particular style.
to put (a price or value) upon something: He set $7500 as the right amount for the car. The teacher sets a high value on neatness.
to fix the value of at a certain amount or rate; value: He set the car at $500. She sets neatness at a high value.
to post, station, or appoint for the purpose of performing some duty: to set spies on a person.
to determine or fix definitely: to set a time limit.
to resolve or decide upon: to set a wedding date.
to cause to pass into a given state or condition: to set one's mind at rest; to set a prisoner free.
to direct or settle resolutely or wishfully: to set one's mind to a task.
to present as a model; place before others as a standard: to set a good example.
to establish for others to follow: to set a fast pace.
to prescribe or assign, as a task.
to adjust (a mechanism) so as to control its performance.
to adjust the hands of (a clock or watch) according to a certain standard: I always set my watch by the clock in the library.
to adjust (a timer, alarm of a clock, etc.) so as to sound when desired: He set the alarm for seven o'clock.
to fix or mount (a gem or the like) in a frame or setting.
to ornament or stud with gems or the like: a bracelet set with pearls.
to cause to sit; seat: to set a child in a highchair.
to put (a hen) on eggs to hatch them.
to place (eggs) under a hen or in an incubator for hatching.
to place or plant firmly: to set a flagpole in concrete.
to put into a fixed, rigid, or settled state, as the face, muscles, etc.
to fix at a given point or calibration: to set the dial on an oven; to set a micrometer.
to tighten (often followed by up): to set nuts well up.
to cause to take a particular direction: to set one's course to the south.
Surgery. to put (a broken or dislocated bone) back in position.
(of a hunting dog) to indicate the position of (game) by standing stiffly and pointing with the muzzle.
  1. to fit, as words to music.
  2. to arrange for musical performance.
  3. to arrange (music) for certain voices or instruments.
  1. to arrange the scenery, properties, lights, etc., on (a stage) for an act or scene.
  2. to prepare (a scene) for dramatic performance.
Nautical. to spread and secure (a sail) so as to catch the wind.
  1. to arrange (type) in the order required for printing.
  2. to put together types corresponding to (copy); compose in type: to set an article.
Baking. to put aside (a substance to which yeast has been added) in order that it may rise.
to change into curd: to set milk with rennet.
to cause (glue, mortar, or the like) to become fixed or hard.
to urge, goad, or encourage to attack: to set the hounds on a trespasser.
Bridge. to cause (the opposing partnership or their contract) to fall short: We set them two tricks at four spades. Only perfect defense could set four spades.
to affix or apply, as by stamping: The king set his seal to the decree.
to fix or engage (a fishhook) firmly into the jaws of a fish by pulling hard on the line once the fish has taken the bait.
to sharpen or put a keen edge on (a blade, knife, razor, etc.) by honing or grinding.
to fix the length, width, and shape of (yarn, fabric, etc.).
Carpentry. to sink (a nail head) with a nail set.
to bend or form to the proper shape, as a saw tooth or a spring.
to bend the teeth of (a saw) outward from the blade alternately on both sides in order to make a cut wider than the blade itself.

verb (used without object), set, set·ting.

to pass below the horizon; sink: The sun sets early in winter.
to decline; wane.
to assume a fixed or rigid state, as the countenance or the muscles.
(of the hair) to be placed temporarily on rollers, in clips, or the like, in order to assume a particular style: Long hair sets more easily than short hair.
to become firm, solid, or permanent, as mortar, glue, cement, or a dye, due to drying or physical or chemical change.
to sit on eggs to hatch them, as a hen.
to hang or fit, as clothes.
to begin to move; start (usually followed by forth, out, off, etc.).
(of a flower's ovary) to develop into a fruit.
(of a hunting dog) to indicate the position of game.
to have a certain direction or course, as a wind, current, or the like.
Nautical. (of a sail) to be spread so as to catch the wind.
Printing. (of type) to occupy a certain width: This copy sets to forty picas.
Nonstandard. sit: Come in and set a spell.


the act or state of setting or the state of being set.
a collection of articles designed for use together: a set of china; a chess set.
a collection, each member of which is adapted for a special use in a particular operation: a set of golf clubs; a set of carving knives.
a number, group, or combination of things of similar nature, design, or function: a set of ideas.
a series of volumes by one author, about one subject, etc.
a number, company, or group of persons associated by common interests, occupations, conventions, or status: a set of murderous thieves; the smart set.
the fit, as of an article of clothing: the set of his coat.
fixed direction, bent, or inclination: The set of his mind was obvious.
bearing or carriage: the set of one's shoulders.
the assumption of a fixed, rigid, or hard state, as by mortar or glue.
the arrangement of the hair in a particular style: How much does the beauty parlor charge for a shampoo and set?
a plate for holding a tool or die.
an apparatus for receiving radio or television programs; receiver.
Philately. a group of stamps that form a complete series.
Tennis. a unit of a match, consisting of a group of not fewer than six games with a margin of at least two games between the winner and loser: He won the match in straight sets of 6–3, 6–4, 6–4.
a construction representing a place or scene in which the action takes place in a stage, motion-picture, or television production.
  1. the bending out of the points of alternate teeth of a saw in opposite directions.
  2. a permanent deformation or displacement of an object or part.
  3. a tool for giving a certain form to something, as a saw tooth.
a chisel having a wide blade for dividing bricks.
Horticulture. a young plant, or a slip, tuber, or the like, suitable for planting.
  1. the number of couples required to execute a quadrille or the like.
  2. a series of movements or figures that make up a quadrille or the like.
  1. a group of pieces played by a band, as in a night club, and followed by an intermission.
  2. the period during which these pieces are played.
Bridge. a failure to take the number of tricks specified by one's contract: Our being vulnerable made the set even more costly.
  1. the direction of a wind, current, etc.
  2. the form or arrangement of the sails, spars, etc., of a vessel.
  3. suit(def 12).
Psychology. a temporary state of an organism characterized by a readiness to respond to certain stimuli in a specific way.
Mining. a timber frame bracing or supporting the walls or roof of a shaft or stope.
Carpentry. nail set.
Mathematics. a collection of objects or elements classed together.
Printing. the width of a body of type.


fixed or prescribed beforehand: a set time; set rules.
specified; fixed: The hall holds a set number of people.
deliberately composed; customary: set phrases.
fixed; rigid: a set smile.
resolved or determined; habitually or stubbornly fixed: to be set in one's opinions.
completely prepared; ready: Is everyone set?


(in calling the start of a race): Ready! Set! Go!Also get set!

Verb Phrases

set about,
  1. to begin on; start.
  2. to undertake; attempt.
  3. to assault; attack.
set against,
  1. to cause to be hostile or antagonistic.
  2. to compare or contrast: The advantages must be set against the disadvantages.
set ahead, to set to a later setting or time: Set your clocks ahead one hour.
set apart,
  1. to reserve for a particular purpose.
  2. to cause to be noticed; distinguish: Her bright red hair sets her apart from her sisters.
set aside,
  1. to put to one side; reserve: The clerk set aside the silver brooch for me.
  2. to dismiss from the mind; reject.
  3. to prevail over; discard; annul: to set aside a verdict.
set back,
  1. to hinder; impede.
  2. to turn the hands of (a watch or clock) to show an earlier time: When your plane gets to California, set your watch back two hours.
  3. to reduce to a lower setting: Set back the thermostat before you go to bed.
set by, to save or keep for future use.
set down,
  1. to write or to copy or record in writing or printing.
  2. to consider; estimate: to set someone down as a fool.
  3. to attribute; ascribe: to set a failure down to bad planning.
  4. to put in a position of rest on a level surface.
  5. to humble or humiliate.
  6. to land an airplane: We set down in a heavy fog.
  7. (in horse racing) to suspend (a jockey) from competition because of some offense or infraction of the rules.
set forth,
  1. to give an account of; state; describe: He set forth his theory in a scholarly report.
  2. to begin a journey; start: Columbus set forth with three small ships.
set in,
  1. to begin to prevail; arrive: Darkness set in.
  2. (of winds or currents) to blow or flow toward the shore.
set off,
  1. to cause to become ignited or to explode.
  2. to begin; start.
  3. to intensify or improve by contrast.
  4. to begin a journey or trip; depart.
set on,
  1. Also set attack or cause to attack: to set one's dog on a stranger.
  2. to instigate; incite: to set a crew to mutiny.
set out,
  1. to begin a journey or course: to set out for home.
  2. to undertake; attempt: He set out to prove his point.
  3. to design; plan: to set out a pattern.
  4. to define; describe: to set out one's arguments.
  5. to plant: to set out petunias and pansies.
  6. to lay out (the plan of a building) in actual size at the site.
  7. to lay out (a building member or the like) in actual size.
set to,
  1. to make a vigorous effort; apply oneself to work; begin.
  2. to begin to fight; contend.
set up,
  1. to put upright; raise.
  2. to put into a high or powerful position.
  3. to construct; assemble; erect.
  4. to be assembled or made ready for use: exercise equipment that sets up in a jiffy.
  5. to inaugurate; establish.
  6. to enable to begin in business; provide with means.
  7. make a gift of; treat, as to drinks.
  8. stimulate; elate.
  9. to propound; plan; advance.
  10. to bring about; cause.
  11. to become firm or hard, as a glue or cement: a paint that sets up within five minutes.
  12. to lead or lure into a dangerous, detrimental, or embarrassing situation, as by deceitful prearrangement or connivance.
  13. to entrap or frame, as an innocent person in a crime or a criminal suspect in a culpable circumstance in order to achieve an arrest.
  14. to arrange the murder or execution of: His partner set him up with the mob.
  15. establish (a suit): to set up spades.

Origin of set

before 900; (v.) Middle English setten, Old English settan; cognate with Old Norse setja, German setzen, Gothic satjan, all < Germanic *satjan, causative of *setjan to sit1; (noun) (in senses denoting the action of setting or the state of being set) Middle English set, set(t)e, derivative of the v. and its past participle; (in senses denoting a group) Middle English sette < Old French < Latin secta sect (in later use influenced by the v. and Middle Low German gesette set, suite)

Related formsin·ter·set, verb (used with object), in·ter·set, in·ter·set·ting.mis·set, verb, mis·set, mis·set·ting.self-set, adjective

Can be confusedset sit (see usage note at the current entry)

Synonym study

1. See put. 70. See circle.

Usage note

The verbs set and sit1 are similar in form and meaning but different in grammatical use. Set is chiefly transitive and takes an object: Set the dish on the shelf. Its past tense and past participle are also set : Yesterday he set three posts for the fence. The judge has set the date for the trial. Set also has some standard intransitive uses, as “to pass below the horizon” ( The sun sets late in the northern latitudes during the summer ) and “to become firm, solid, etc.” ( This glue sets quickly ). The use of set for sit, “to be seated,” is nonstandard: Pull up a chair and set by me.
Sit is chiefly intransitive and does not take an object: Let's sit here in the shade. Its past tense and past participle are sat : They sat at the table for nearly two hours. Have they sat down yet? Transitive uses of sit include “to cause to sit” ( Pull up a chair and sit yourself down ) and “to provide seating for” ( The waiter sat us near the window ). Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for set up

set up

verb (adverb, mainly tr)

(also intr) to put into a position of power, etc
(also intr) to begin or enable (someone) to begin (a new venture), as by acquiring or providing means, equipment, etc
to build or constructto set up a shed
to raise, cause, or produceto set up a wail
to advance or proposeto set up a theory
to restore the health ofthe sea air will set you up again
to establish (a record)
informal to cause (a person) to be blamed, accused, etc
  1. to provide (drinks, etc) forset 'em up, Joe!
  2. to pay for the drinks ofI'll set up the next round
printing another term for set 1 (def. 12)

noun setup

informal the way in which anything is organized or arranged
slang an event the result of which is prearrangedit's a setup
a prepared arrangement of materials, machines, etc, for a job or undertaking
a station at which a surveying instrument, esp a theodolite, is set up
films the position of the camera, microphones, and performers at the beginning of a scene

adjective set-up

physically well-built



verb sets, setting or set (mainly tr)

to put or place in position or into a specified state or conditionto set a book on the table; to set someone free
(also intr; foll by to or on) to put or be put (to); apply or be appliedhe set fire to the house; they set the dogs on the scent
to put into order or readiness for use; prepareto set a trap; to set the table for dinner
(also intr) to put, form, or be formed into a jelled, firm, fixed, or rigid statethe jelly set in three hours
(also intr) to put or be put into a position that will restore a normal stateto set a broken bone
to adjust (a clock or other instrument) to a position
to determine or establishwe have set the date for our wedding
to prescribe or allot (an undertaking, course of study, etc)the examiners have set ``Paradise Lost''
to arrange in a particular fashion, esp an attractive oneshe set her hair; the jeweller set the diamonds in silver
(of clothes) to hang or fit (well or badly) when worn
Also: set to music to provide music for (a poem or other text to be sung)
Also: set up printing to arrange or produce (type, film, etc) from (text or copy); compose
to arrange (a stage, television studio, etc) with scenery and props
to describe or present (a scene or the background to a literary work, story, etc) in wordshis novel is set in Russia
to present as a model of good or bad behaviour (esp in the phrases set an example, set a good example, set a bad example)
(foll by on or by) to value (something) at a specified price or estimation of worthhe set a high price on his services
(foll by at) to price (the value of something) at a specified sumhe set his services at £300
(also intr) to give or be given a particular directionhis course was set to the East
(also intr) to rig (a sail) or (of a sail) to be rigged so as to catch the wind
(intr) (of the sun, moon, etc) to disappear beneath the horizon
to leave (dough, etc) in one place so that it may prove
to sharpen (a cutting blade) by grinding or honing the angle adjacent to the cutting edge
to displace alternate teeth of (a saw) to opposite sides of the blade in order to increase the cutting efficiency
to sink (the head of a nail) below the surface surrounding it by using a nail set
computing to give (a binary circuit) the value 1
(of plants) to produce (fruits, seeds, etc) after pollination or (of fruits or seeds) to develop after pollination
to plant (seeds, seedlings, etc)
to place (a hen) on (eggs) for the purpose of incubation
(intr) (of a gun dog) to turn in the direction of game, indicating its presence
Scot and Irish to let or leaseto set a house
bridge to defeat (one's opponents) in their attempt to make a contract
a dialect word for sit
set eyes on to see


the act of setting or the state of being set
a condition of firmness or hardness
bearing, carriage, or posturethe set of a gun dog when pointing
the fit or hang of a garment, esp when worn
the scenery and other props used in and identifying the location of a stage or television production, film, etc
Also called: set width printing
  1. the width of the body of a piece of type
  2. the width of the lines of type in a page or column
  1. the cut of the sails or the arrangement of the sails, spars, rigging, etc, of a vessel
  2. the direction from which a wind is blowing or towards which a tide or current is moving
psychol a temporary bias disposing an organism to react to a stimulus in one way rather than in others
a seedling, cutting, or similar part that is ready for plantingonion sets
a blacksmith's tool with a short head similar to a cold chisel set transversely onto a handle and used, when struck with a hammer, for cutting off lengths of iron bars
the direction of flow of water
a mechanical distortion of shape or alignment, such as a bend in a piece of metal
the penetration of a driven pile for each blow of the drop hammer
a variant spelling of sett


fixed or established by authority or agreementset hours of work
(usually postpositive) rigid or inflexibleshe is set in her ways
unmoving; fixeda set expression on his face
conventional, artificial, or stereotyped, rather than spontaneousshe made her apology in set phrases
(postpositive; foll by on or upon) resolute in intentionhe is set upon marrying
(of a book, etc) prescribed for students' preparation for an examination

Word Origin for set

Old English settan, causative of sittan to sit; related to Old Frisian setta, Old High German sezzan




a number of objects or people grouped or belonging together, often forming a unit or having certain features or characteristics in commona set of coins; John is in the top set for maths
a group of people who associate together, esp a cliquehe's part of the jet set
maths logic
  1. Also called: classa collection of numbers, objects, etc, that is treated as an entity: 3, the moon is the set the two members of which are the number 3 and the moon
  2. (in some formulations) a class that can itself be a member of other classes
any apparatus that receives or transmits television or radio signals
tennis squash badminton one of the units of a match, in tennis one in which one player or pair of players must win at least six gamesGraf lost the first set
  1. the number of couples required for a formation dance
  2. a series of figures that make up a formation dance
  1. a band's or performer's concert repertoire on a given occasionthe set included no new numbers
  2. a continuous performancethe Who played two sets

verb sets, setting or set

(intr) (in square dancing and country dancing) to perform a sequence of steps while facing towards another dancerset to your partners
(usually tr) to divide into setsin this school we set our older pupils for English

Word Origin for set

C14 (in the obsolete sense: a religious sect): from Old French sette, from Latin secta sect; later sense development influenced by the verb set 1

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 set up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for set up




To put in a specified position; place.
To put into a specified state.
To put into a stable position.
To fix firmly or in an immobile manner.
To become fixed or hardened; coagulate.
To bring the bones of a fracture back into a normal position or alignment.


The act or process of setting.
The condition resulting from setting.
A permanent firming or hardening of a substance.
The carriage or bearing of a part of the body.
A particular psychological state, usually of anticipation or preparedness.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for set up



A collection of distinct elements that have something in common. In mathematics, sets are commonly represented by enclosing the members of a set in curly braces, as {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}, the set of all positive integers from 1 to 5.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with set up

set up


Place in an upright position, as in I keep setting up this lamp but it won't stay up. [c. 1200]


Elevate, raise; also, put in a position of authority or power, as in They set him up as their leader. [Late 1300s]


Put oneself forward, claim to be, as in He set himself up as an authority on the banking system. [Mid-1800s]


Assemble, erect, make ready for use, as in They set up the sound system last night. [c. 1200]


Establish, found, as in They set up a new charity for the homeless. [Early 1400s]


Establish in business by providing capital or other backing, as in His father set her up in a new dental practice. [First half of 1500s]


Treat someone to drinks, pay for drinks, as in Please let us set you up tonight. [Colloquial; late 1800s]


Stimulate or exhilarate, as in That victory really set up our team. [c. 1600]


Lay plans for, as in I think they set up the kidnapping months ago. [First half of 1900s]


Prepare someone for a deception or trickery or joke, as in They set up their victim for the usual real estate scam, or Her friends set her up so that she was the only person in costume. [Mid-1900s]


Cause, bring about, as in The new taxes set up howls of protest. [Mid-1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with set

  • set about
  • set against
  • set an example
  • set apart
  • set a precedent
  • set aside
  • set at
  • set at rest
  • set back
  • set back on one's heels
  • set back the clock
  • set by
  • set down
  • set eyes on
  • set fire to
  • set foot
  • set forth
  • set forward
  • set in
  • set in motion
  • set in one's ways, be
  • set off
  • set on
  • set on a pedestal
  • set one back
  • set one back on one's feet
  • set one's back up
  • set one's cap for
  • set one's face against
  • set one's heart on
  • set one's mind at rest
  • set one's mind on
  • set one's seal on
  • set one's sights on
  • set one's teeth on edge
  • set on fire
  • set out
  • set right
  • set sail
  • set store by
  • set straight
  • set the pace
  • set the record straight
  • set the scene for
  • set the table
  • set the wheels in motion
  • set the world on fire
  • set to
  • set tongues wagging
  • set to rights
  • set up
  • set up housekeeping
  • set upon
  • set up shop

also see:

  • all set
  • dead set against
  • get set
  • get (set) someone's back up
  • get (set) the ball rolling
  • lay (set) eyes on
  • on a pedestal, set
  • smart set
  • tongues wagging, set

Also see underput.

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