[ set-bak ]
See synonyms for: setbacksetbacks on

  1. a check to progress; a reverse or defeat: The new law was a setback.

  2. 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.

  1. an act or instance of setting back: A nightly setback of your home thermostats can save a great deal of fuel.

  2. Also set-back. a downward temperature adjustment of a thermostat, especially performed automatically, as by a timer.

Origin of setback

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

Words Nearby setback

Other definitions for set-back (2 of 2)

[ set-bak ]

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

Origin of set-back

Special use of setback Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use setback in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for set back

set back

verb(tr, adverb)
  1. to hinder; impede

  2. informal to cost (a person) a specified amount

  1. anything that serves to hinder or impede

  2. a recession in the upper part of a high building, esp one that increases the daylight at lower levels

  1. 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with setback


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

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