View synonyms for set



[ set ]

verb (used with object)

, set, set·ting.
  1. to put (something or someone) in a particular place:

    to set a vase on a table.

    Synonyms: plant, situate, locate, position

  2. to place in a particular position or posture:

    Set the baby on his feet.

  3. to place in some relation to something or someone:

    We set a supervisor over the new workers.

  4. to put into some condition:

    to set a house on fire.

  5. to put or apply:

    to set fire to a house.

  6. to put in the proper position:

    to set a chair back on its feet.

  7. to put in the proper or desired order or condition for use:

    to set a trap.

  8. to distribute or arrange china, silver, etc., for use on (a table):

    to set the table for dinner.

  9. to place (the hair, especially when wet) on rollers, in clips, or the like, so that the hair will assume a particular style.
  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    Synonyms: rate, price, evaluate, appraise, estimate

  12. to post, station, or appoint for the purpose of performing some duty:

    to set spies on a person.

  13. to determine or fix definitely:

    to set a time limit.

    Synonyms: establish

  14. to resolve or decide upon:

    to set a wedding date.

  15. to cause to pass into a given state or condition:

    to set one's mind at rest;

    to set a prisoner free.

  16. to direct or settle resolutely or wishfully:

    to set one's mind to a task.

  17. to present as a model; place before others as a standard:

    to set a good example.

  18. to establish for others to follow:

    to set a fast pace.

  19. to prescribe or assign, as a task.
  20. to adjust (a mechanism) so as to control its performance.
  21. 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.

  22. to adjust (a timer, alarm of a clock, etc.) so as to sound when desired:

    He set the alarm for seven o'clock.

  23. to fix or mount (a gem or the like) in a frame or setting.
  24. to ornament or stud with gems or the like:

    a bracelet set with pearls.

  25. to cause to sit; seat:

    to set a child in a high chair.

  26. to put (a hen) on eggs to hatch them.
  27. to place (eggs) under a hen or in an incubator for hatching.
  28. to place or plant firmly:

    to set a flagpole in concrete.

  29. to put into a fixed, rigid, or settled state, as the face, muscles, etc.
  30. to fix at a given point or calibration:

    to set the dial on an oven;

    to set a micrometer.

  31. to tighten (often followed by up ):

    to set nuts well up.

  32. to cause to take a particular direction:

    to set one's course to the south.

  33. Surgery. to put (a broken or dislocated bone) back in position.
  34. (of a hunting dog) to indicate the position of (game) by standing stiffly and pointing with the muzzle.
  35. Music.
    1. to fit, as words to music.
    2. to arrange for musical performance.
    3. to arrange (music) for certain voices or instruments.
  36. Theater.
    1. to arrange the scenery, properties, lights, etc., on (a stage) for an act or scene.
    2. to prepare (a scene) for dramatic performance.
  37. Nautical. to spread and secure (a sail) so as to catch the wind.
  38. Printing.
    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.

  39. Baking. to put aside (a substance to which yeast has been added) in order that it may rise.
  40. to change into curd:

    to set milk with rennet.

  41. to cause (glue, mortar, or the like) to become fixed or hard.
  42. to urge, goad, or encourage to attack:

    to set the hounds on a trespasser.

  43. 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.

  44. to affix or apply, as by stamping:

    The king set his seal to the decree.

  45. 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.
  46. to sharpen or put a keen edge on (a blade, knife, razor, etc.) by honing or grinding.
  47. to fix the length, width, and shape of (yarn, fabric, etc.).
  48. Carpentry. to sink (a nail head) with a nail set.
  49. to bend or form to the proper shape, as a saw tooth or a spring.
  50. 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.
  1. to pass below the horizon; sink:

    The sun sets early in winter.

  2. to decline; wane.
  3. to assume a fixed or rigid state, as the countenance or the muscles.
  4. (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.

  5. to become firm, solid, or permanent, as mortar, glue, cement, or a dye, due to drying or physical or chemical change.

    Synonyms: harden, congeal, solidify

  6. to sit on eggs to hatch them, as a hen.
  7. to hang or fit, as clothes.
  8. to begin to move; start (usually followed by forth, out, off, etc.).
  9. (of a flower's ovary) to develop into a fruit.
  10. (of a hunting dog) to indicate the position of game.
  11. to have a certain direction or course, as a wind, current, or the like.
  12. Nautical. (of a sail) to be spread so as to catch the wind.
  13. Printing. (of type) to occupy a certain width:

    This copy sets to forty picas.

  14. Nonstandard. sit:

    Come in and set a spell.


  1. the act or state of setting or the state of being set.
  2. a collection of articles designed for use together:

    a set of china;

    a chess set.

  3. 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.

  4. a number, group, or combination of things of similar nature, design, or function:

    a set of ideas.

  5. a series of volumes by one author, about one subject, etc.
  6. a number, company, or group of persons associated by common interests, occupations, conventions, or status:

    a set of murderous thieves;

    the smart set.

    Synonyms: clique

  7. the fit, as of an article of clothing:

    the set of his coat.

  8. fixed direction, bent, or inclination:

    The set of his mind was obvious.

    Synonyms: attitude

  9. bearing or carriage:

    the set of one's shoulders.

    Synonyms: posture

  10. the assumption of a fixed, rigid, or hard state, as by mortar or glue.
  11. the arrangement of the hair in a particular style:

    How much does the beauty salon charge for a shampoo and set?

  12. a plate for holding a tool or die.
  13. an apparatus for receiving radio or television programs; receiver.
  14. Philately. a group of stamps that form a complete series.
  15. 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.

  16. a construction representing a place or scene in which the action takes place in a stage, motion-picture, or television production.
  17. Machinery.
    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.
  18. a chisel having a wide blade for dividing bricks.
  19. Horticulture. a young plant, or a slip, tuber, or the like, suitable for planting.
  20. Dance.
    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.
  21. Music.
    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.
  22. Bridge. a failure to take the number of tricks specified by one's contract:

    Our being vulnerable made the set even more costly.

  23. Nautical.
    1. the direction of a wind, current, etc.
    2. the form or arrangement of the sails, spars, etc., of a vessel.
  24. Psychology. a temporary state of an organism characterized by a readiness to respond to certain stimuli in a specific way.
  25. Mining. a timber frame bracing or supporting the walls or roof of a shaft or stope.
  26. Carpentry. nail set.
  27. Mathematics. a collection of objects or elements classed together.
  28. Printing. the width of a body of type.


  1. fixed or prescribed beforehand:

    a set time;

    set rules.

  2. specified; fixed:

    The hall holds a set number of people.

  3. deliberately composed; customary:

    set phrases.

  4. fixed; rigid:

    a set smile.

  5. resolved or determined; habitually or stubbornly fixed:

    to be set in one's opinions.

    Synonyms: obstinate, stubborn

  6. completely prepared; ready:

    Is everyone set?


  1. Also get set! (in calling the start of a race):

    Ready! Set! Go!

verb phrase

    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.
    1. Also set upon. to attack or cause to attack:

      to set one's dog on a stranger.

    2. to instigate; incite:

      to set a crew to mutiny.

  1. to save or keep for future use.
    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.
    1. to begin on; start.
    2. to undertake; attempt.
    3. to assault; attack.
    1. to cause to be hostile or antagonistic.
    2. to compare or contrast:

      The advantages must be set against the disadvantages.

  2. to set to a later setting or time:

    Set your clocks ahead one hour.

    1. to begin to prevail; arrive:

      Darkness set in.

    2. (of winds or currents) to blow or flow toward the shore.
    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.

    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.

    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.

    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. Informal. to make a gift of; treat, as to drinks.
    8. Informal. to 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. Bridge. to establish (a suit):

      to set up spades.

    1. to reserve for a particular purpose.
    2. to cause to be noticed; distinguish:

      Her bright red hair sets her apart from her sisters.

    1. to make a vigorous effort; apply oneself to work; begin.
    2. to begin to fight; contend.
    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 ]


, Egyptian Religion.
  1. the brother and murderer of Osiris, represented as having the form of a donkey or other mammal and regarded as personifying the desert.



/ sɛt /


  1. a number of objects or people grouped or belonging together, often forming a unit or having certain features or characteristics in common

    John is in the top set for maths

    a set of coins

  2. a group of people who associate together, esp a clique

    he's part of the jet set

  3. maths logic
    1. Also calledclass a 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
  4. any apparatus that receives or transmits television or radio signals
  5. 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 games

    Graf 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 occasion

      the set included no new numbers

    2. a continuous performance

      the Who played two sets


  1. intr (in square dancing and country dancing) to perform a sequence of steps while facing towards another dancer

    set to your partners

  2. usually tr to divide into sets

    in this school we set our older pupils for English



/ sɛt /


  1. to put or place in position or into a specified state or condition

    to set a book on the table

    to set someone free

  2. also intr; foll by to or on to put or be put (to); apply or be applied

    he set fire to the house

    they set the dogs on the scent

  3. to put into order or readiness for use; prepare

    to set a trap

    to set the table for dinner

  4. also intr to put, form, or be formed into a jelled, firm, fixed, or rigid state

    the jelly set in three hours

  5. also intr to put or be put into a position that will restore a normal state

    to set a broken bone

  6. to adjust (a clock or other instrument) to a position
  7. to determine or establish

    we have set the date for our wedding

  8. to prescribe or allot (an undertaking, course of study, etc)

    the examiners have set ``Paradise Lost''

  9. to arrange in a particular fashion, esp an attractive one

    the jeweller set the diamonds in silver

    she set her hair

  10. (of clothes) to hang or fit (well or badly) when worn
  11. Alsoset to music to provide music for (a poem or other text to be sung)
  12. Alsoset up printing to arrange or produce (type, film, etc) from (text or copy); compose
  13. to arrange (a stage, television studio, etc) with scenery and props
  14. to describe or present (a scene or the background to a literary work, story, etc) in words

    his novel is set in Russia

  15. 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 )
  16. foll byon or by to value (something) at a specified price or estimation of worth

    he set a high price on his services

  17. foll by at to price (the value of something) at a specified sum

    he set his services at £300

  18. also intr to give or be given a particular direction

    his course was set to the East

  19. also intr to rig (a sail) or (of a sail) to be rigged so as to catch the wind
  20. intr (of the sun, moon, etc) to disappear beneath the horizon
  21. to leave (dough, etc) in one place so that it may prove
  22. to sharpen (a cutting blade) by grinding or honing the angle adjacent to the cutting edge
  23. to displace alternate teeth of (a saw) to opposite sides of the blade in order to increase the cutting efficiency
  24. to sink (the head of a nail) below the surface surrounding it by using a nail set
  25. computing to give (a binary circuit) the value 1
  26. (of plants) to produce (fruits, seeds, etc) after pollination or (of fruits or seeds) to develop after pollination
  27. to plant (seeds, seedlings, etc)
  28. to place (a hen) on (eggs) for the purpose of incubation
  29. intr (of a gun dog) to turn in the direction of game, indicating its presence
  30. to let or lease

    to set a house

  31. bridge to defeat (one's opponents) in their attempt to make a contract
  32. a dialect word for sit
  33. set eyes on
    to see


  1. the act of setting or the state of being set
  2. a condition of firmness or hardness
  3. bearing, carriage, or posture

    the set of a gun dog when pointing

  4. the fit or hang of a garment, esp when worn
  5. the scenery and other props used in and identifying the location of a stage or television production, film, etc
  6. Also calledset 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
  7. nautical
    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
  8. psychol a temporary bias disposing an organism to react to a stimulus in one way rather than in others
  9. a seedling, cutting, or similar part that is ready for planting

    onion sets

  10. 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
  11. the direction of flow of water
  12. a mechanical distortion of shape or alignment, such as a bend in a piece of metal
  13. the penetration of a driven pile for each blow of the drop hammer
  14. a variant spelling of sett


  1. fixed or established by authority or agreement

    set hours of work

  2. usually postpositive rigid or inflexible

    she is set in her ways

  3. unmoving; fixed

    a set expression on his face

  4. conventional, artificial, or stereotyped, rather than spontaneous

    she made her apology in set phrases

  5. postpositive; foll by on or upon resolute in intention

    he is set upon marrying

  6. (of a book, etc) prescribed for students' preparation for an examination


/ sĕt /

  1. 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.

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Confusables 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 ).

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Other Words From

  • inter·set verb (used with object) interset intersetting
  • mis·set verb misset missetting
  • self-set adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of set1

First recorded before 900; Middle English verb setten, Old English settan; cognate with Old Norse setja, German setzen, Gothic satjan, all from Germanic satjan, causative of setjan “to sit”; Middle English noun in senses denoting the action of setting or the state of being set, from set, set(t)e, derivative of the verb and its past participle; in senses denoting a group, from Middle English sette, from Old French, from Latin secta (in later use influenced by the verb and Middle Low German gesette “set, suite”); sit 1; sect

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Word History and Origins

Origin of set1

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

Origin of set2

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

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. all set, Informal. in readiness; prepared:

    They were at the starting line and all set to begin.

  2. set forward, to turn the hands of (a watch or clock) to show a later time:

    When your plane lands in New York, set your watch forward two hours.

  3. set one's face against. face ( def 58 ).
  4. set store by. store ( def 16 ).

More idioms and phrases containing set

  • 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
  • put

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Synonym Study

See put. See circle.

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Example Sentences

That means something focused on one exercise, with a clear number of sets and reps.

“He spent more time about who was going to call Fox and yell at them to set them straight than he did on the virus,” she said.

If you’re using it in arid regions, or mostly on smooth trails, you might not get your money’s worth out of a good set of aftermarket tires.

When we look at Threads business model we’re set up to respond very quickly and we have had a strong year.

Set a trapThe next skill set down from hunting with primitive archery tools is trapping.

When cities started adding chlorine to their water supplies, in the early 1900s, it set off public outcry.

Submission is set in a France seven years from now that is dominated by a Muslim president intent on imposing Islamic law.

In the last year, her fusion exercise class has attracted a cult following and become de rigueur among the celebrity set.

I wonder what that lady is doing now, and if she knows what she set in motion with Archer?

Empire will be hate-watched and may set off some conversations on its way from fading from our minds.

You would not think it too much to set the whole province in flames so that you could have your way with this wretched child.

I take the Extream Bells, and set down the six Changes on them thus.

She set off down Trafalgar Road in the mist and the rain, glad that she had been compelled to walk.

Good is set against evil, and life against death: so also is the sinner against a just man.

He set down as the second the golden rule, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.”


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




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