[set-ling, -l-ing]


the act of a person or thing that settles.
Usually settlings. sediment.

Origin of settling

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at settle1, -ing1



verb (used with object), set·tled, set·tling.

to appoint, fix, or resolve definitely and conclusively; agree upon (as time, price, or conditions).
to place in a desired state or in order: to settle one's affairs.
to pay, as a bill.
to close (an account) by payment.
to migrate to and organize (an area, territory, etc.); colonize: The pilgrims settled Plymouth.
to cause to take up residence: They settled immigrants in urban areas.
to furnish (a place) with inhabitants or settlers: The French settled this colony with army veterans.
to quiet, calm, or bring to rest (the nerves, stomach, etc.).
to stop from annoying or opposing: A sharp word will settle that youngster.
to conclude or resolve: to settle a dispute.
to make stable; place in a permanent position or on a permanent basis.
to cause (a liquid) to become clear by depositing dregs.
to cause (dregs, sediment, etc.) to sink or be deposited.
to cause to sink down gradually; make firm or compact.
to dispose of finally; close up: to settle an estate.
  1. to secure (property, title, etc.) on or to a person by formal or legal process.
  2. to terminate (legal proceedings) by mutual consent of the parties.

verb (used without object), set·tled, set·tling.

to decide, arrange, or agree (often followed by on or upon): to settle on a plan of action.
to arrange matters in dispute; come to an agreement: to settle with a person.
to pay a bill; make a financial arrangement (often followed by up).
to take up residence in a new country or place: Many Frenchmen settled along the Mississippi River following La Salle's explorations.
to come to rest, as from flight: A bird settled on a bough.
to gather, collect, or become fixed in a particular place, direction, etc.: A cold settled in my head.
to become calm or composed (often followed by down): I'll wait until the class settles before starting the lesson.
to come to rest (often followed by down): We settled down for the night at an old country inn.
to sink down gradually; subside.
to become clear by the sinking of suspended particles, as a liquid.
to sink to the bottom, as sediment.
to become firm or compact, as the ground.
(of a female animal) to become pregnant; conceive.

Verb Phrases

settle down,
  1. to become established in some routine, especially upon marrying, after a period of independence or indecision.
  2. to become calm or quiet.
  3. to apply oneself to serious work: There were so many distractions that we weren't able to settle down to studying.
settle for, to be satisfied with: to settle for less.
settle into, to become established in: to settle into a new routine.

Origin of settle

before 1000; Middle English set(t)len, Old English setlan (attested once) to place, derivative of setl settle2; compare Dutch zetelen
Related formsset·tle·a·ble, adjectiveset·tle·a·bil·i·ty, nounset·tled·ness, nounqua·si-set·tled, adjectiveun·set·tle·a·ble, adjectivewell-set·tled, adjective

Synonyms for settle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for settling

Contemporary Examples of settling

Historical Examples of settling

  • The settling of this region well deserves a place in history.

  • This has not been his fault but his misfortune—the settling of an estate, it may be, or the death of a master.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • Her act of abandonment was really an arrangement for settling her son permanently in life.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • She had disappeared, and I supposed she was just settling under water.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The solicitor was by no means pleased with this way of settling the matter.

British Dictionary definitions for settling




(tr) to put in order; arrange in a desired state or conditionhe settled his affairs before he died
to arrange or be arranged in a fixed or comfortable positionhe settled himself by the fire
(intr) to come to rest or a halta bird settled on the hedge
to take up or cause to take up residencethe family settled in the country
to establish or become established in a way of life, job, residence, etc
(tr) to migrate to and form a community; colonize
to make or become quiet, calm, or stable
(intr) to be cast or spread; come downfog settled over a wide area
to make (a liquid) clear or (of a liquid) to become clear; clarify
to cause (sediment) to sink to the bottom, as in a liquid, or (of sediment) to sink thus
to subside or cause to subside and become firm or compactthe dust settled
(sometimes foll by up) to pay off or account for (a bill, debt, etc)
(tr) to decide, conclude, or dispose ofto settle an argument
(intr; often foll by on or upon) to agree or fixto settle upon a plan
(tr; usually foll by on or upon) to secure (title, property, etc) to a person, as by making a deed of settlement, will, etche settled his property on his wife
to determine (a legal dispute, etc) by agreement of the parties without resort to court action (esp in the phrase settle out of court)
Derived Formssettleable, adjective

Word Origin for settle

Old English setlan; related to Dutch zetelen; see settle ²




a seat, for two or more people, usually made of wood with a high back and arms, and sometimes having a storage space in the boxlike seat

Word Origin for settle

Old English setl; related to Old Saxon, Old High German sezzal
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 settling



"come to rest," Old English setlan "cause to sit, place, put," from setl "a seat" (see settle (n.)). Related: Settling. Cf. German siedeln "to settle, colonize."

From c.1300 of birds, etc., "to alight." From early 14c. as "sink down, descend; cave in." Early 15c. in reference to suspended particles in a liquid. Sense of "establish a permanent residence" first recorded 1620s; that of "decide" is 1620s. Meaning "secure title to by deed" is from 1660s.

Meaning "reconcile" (a quarrel, differences, etc.) perhaps is influenced by Middle English sahtlen "to reconcile," from Old English saht "reconciliation," from Old Norse satt "reconciliation." To settle down "become content" is from 1853; transitive sense from 1520s; as what married couples do in establishing domesticity, from 1718. To settle for "content oneself with" is from 1943.



"long bench," 1550s, from Middle English setle "a seat," from Old English setl "a seat, stall; position, abode; setting of a heavenly body," related to sittan "to sit," from Proto-Germanic *setla- (cf. Middle Low German, Middle Dutch setel, Dutch zetel, German Sessel, Gothic sitls), from PIE *sedla- (cf. Latin sella "seat, chair," Old Church Slavonic sedlo "saddle," Old English sadol "saddle"), from root *sed- (1) "to sit" (see sedentary).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper