set1 W1S1 [set] v past tense and past participle set present participle setting
2¦(put into surface)¦
5¦(establish something)¦
6¦(start something happening)¦
7¦(decide something)¦
8¦(start working)¦
9¦(machine/clock etc)¦
10¦(liquid/glue/cement etc)¦
12 set (somebody) a goal
13 set your heart/mind/sights on (doing) something
14 set a record
15 set the table
16 set a trap
17 set somebody free/loose
18 set somebody straight/right
20 set your jaw
22¦(class work)¦
Phrasal verbs
 set about something/somebody
 set somebody/something against somebody/something
 set somebody/something apart
 set something<=>aside
 set somebody/something back
 set something/somebody<=>down
 set forth
 set in
 set off
 set on somebody
 set out
 set to
 set up
[: Old English; Origin: settan]
1.) ¦(PUT)¦ [T always + adverb/preposition]
written to carefully put something down somewhere
set sth (down) on sth
She set the tray down on a table next to his bed.
Mark filled the pan and set it on the stove.
set sth down/aside
The workmen set the box down carefully on the floor.
Remove the mushrooms and set them aside.
2.) ¦(PUT INTO SURFACE)¦ [T always + adverb/preposition usually passive]
to put something into a surface
be set into sth
Gates should be hung on sturdy posts set well into the ground.
be set into the wall/floor/ceiling etc
(=be built into the surface of something so that it does not stick out)
an alarm button set into the wall beside the door
3.) ¦(STORY)¦ [T always + adverb/preposition usually passive]
if a film, play, story etc is set in a particular place or period, the action takes place there or then
be set in sth
The novel is set in France in the early 19th century.
be set against sth
All this romance is set against a backdrop of rural Irish life.
4.) ¦(CONSIDER)¦ [T always + adverb/preposition]
to consider something in relation to other things
set sth against/beside sth
These casualty totals have to be set against the continuing growth in traffic.
This debate should be set in an international context .
to establish a way of doing something that is then copied or regarded as good
set the pattern/tone/trend etc (for sth)
Art and literature flourished and this set the pattern for the whole of Europe.
The Prime Minister's fierce speech set the tone for the rest of the conference.
It is important that parents set an example (=behave well) .
The outcome of the case will set a legal precedent .
His photographs set the standard for landscapes.
Freud's views on sexuality set the agenda for much of the century (=people paid attention to the subjects he dealt with) .
to make something start happening or to make someone start doing something
set sth in motion/progress/train
A study by military experts was immediately set in motion.
The chief executive will set in train the process of finding a successor.
set sth on fire/alight/ablaze also set fire to sth
(=make something start burning)
Protestors set fire to two buses.
set sb/sth doing sth
Her last remark has set me thinking.
The wind set the trees rustling.
to decide and state when something will happen, how much something should cost, what should be done etc
set a date/time (for sth)
The government has still not set a date for the election.
International companies set the price of oil.
set standards/limits/guidelines etc
high standards of hygiene set by the Department of Health
8.) ¦(START WORKING)¦ [I and T]
to start doing something in a determined way, or to tell someone to start doing something
set to work to do sth
They set to work to paint the outside of the building.
set (sb) to work on sth
He's about to set to work on a second book.
set (sb) to work doing sth
The boys were set to work collecting firewood.
set sb to do sth
Rocard set himself to reform public sector industry.
to move a switch on a machine, clock etc so that it will start or stop working at the time you want, or in the way you want
Did you set the alarm ?
Remember to set the video to record the film.
set sth to/at/on sth
Usually the heating is set on 'low'.
to become hard and solid
How long does it take for the glue to set?
11.) ¦(SUN)¦ [I]
when the sun sets, it moves down in the sky and disappears
≠ ↑rise
12.) set (sb) a goal [i]also set sb a task/challenge BrE
to say what you or someone else will or must try to achieve
It's best to set realistic goals that you can achieve.
He set himself the task of learning Japanese.
13.) set your heart/mind/sights on (doing) sth
to want very much to have or achieve something, or to be determined to do something
Ellen has completely set her heart on that house.
He set his sights on crossing the Pacific by balloon.
14.) set a record
to achieve the best result in a sport, competition etc that has ever been achieved, by running fastest, jumping highest etc
The Kenyan runner set a new Olympic Record in the 3000 metres.
15.) set the table
to arrange plates, knives, cups etc on a table so that it is ready for a meal
British Equivalent: lay the table
16.) set a trap
a) to make a trap ready to catch an animal
b) to invent a plan to try and catch someone who is doing something wrong
They decided to set a trap for him by leaving him in charge.
17.) set sb free/loose
to allow a person or an animal to be free
All the other hostages were finally set free.
18.) set sb straight/right
to tell someone the right way to do something or the true facts about something
set somebody straight/right on
I set him right on a few points of procedure.
set sth right atright1 (4), set the record straight atrecord1 (10)
19.) ¦(FACE)¦
[i]written if your face or mouth sets into a particular expression, you start to have an angry, sad, unfriendly etc expression
set into
His mouth set into a rather grim line.
20.) set your jaw
to move your lower jaw forward in a way that shows your determination
21.) ¦(BONE)¦
a) [T]
if a doctor sets a broken bone, he or she moves it into position so that the bone can grow together again
if a broken bone sets, it joins together again
22.) ¦(CLASS WORK)¦ [T]
[i]BrE to give a student in your class a piece of work to do
set sb sth
Mr Biggs has set us a 2000-word essay.
23.) ¦(EXAMINATION)¦ [T]
BrE to write the questions for an examination
The head teacher sets the questions for the English exam.
24.) ¦(PRINTING)¦ [T]
to arrange the words and letters of a book, newspaper etc so it is ready to be printed
In those days books had to be set by hand.
25.) ¦(HAIR)¦ [T]
to arrange someone's hair while it is wet so that it has a particular style when it dries
set sb at (their) ease atease1 (2)
set your face against sth atface1 (21)
set sth to music atmusic
set the pace atpace1 (7)
set pen to paper atpen1 (3)
set sail atsail2 (2)
set the scene atscene
set the stage for sth atstage1 (7)
set great store by/on sth atstore1 (6)
set the world on fire/alight atworld1 (22)
set the world to rights atworld1 (23)
set about / [set about sth/sb] phr v
1.) to start doing or dealing with something, especially something that needs a lot of time and effort
A team of volunteers set about the task with determination.
set about doing sth
How do senior managers set about making these decisions?
2.) literary to attack someone by hitting and kicking them
They set about him with their fists.
set against / [set sb/sth against sb/sth] phr v
1.) to make someone start to fight or quarrel with another person, especially a person who they had friendly relations with before
The bitter civil war set brother against brother.
2.) set yourself against (doing) sth
to decide that you are opposed to doing or having something
She's set herself against going to university.
3.) set sth against tax
to officially record the money you have spent on something connected with your job, in order to reduce the amount of tax you have to pay
set apart [set sb/sth apart] phr v
1.) if a quality sets someone or something apart, it makes them different from or better than other people or things
set somebody/something apart from
Man's ability to reason sets him apart from other animals.
2.) [usually passive]
to keep something, especially a particular time, for a special purpose
set somebody/something apart for
Traditionally these days were set apart for prayer and fasting.
set aside [set sth<=>aside] phr v
1.) to keep something, especially money, time, or a particular area, for a special purpose
set something<=>aside for
Try to set aside some time each day for exercise.
a room that had been set aside for visitors
2.) to decide not to consider a particular feeling or thing because something else is more important
Both sides agreed to set aside the question of independence.
3.) to officially state that a previous legal decision or agreement no longer has any effect
The judge set aside the verdict of the lower court.
4.) if a farmer sets aside land, he or she agrees not to grow any crops on it, and accepts a payment from the government for this
set back [set sb/sth back] phr v
1.) set sb/sth<=>back
to delay the progress or development of something, or delay someone from finishing something
Environmental experts said the move would set back further research.
Illness had set me back a couple of weeks.
2.) informal to cost someone a lot of money
set sb back $50/£100 etc
This jacket set me back over £1000.
set down [set sth/sb<=>down] phr v
1.) to write about something so that you have a record of it
I wanted to set my feelings down on paper.
2.) to state how something should be done in an official document or set of rules
Clear guidelines have been set down for teachers.
3.) BrE to stop a car, bus etc and allow someone to get out
The driver set her down at the station.
set forth phr v
1.) set sth<=>forth
formal to explain ideas, facts, or opinions in a clearly organized way in writing or in a speech
= ↑set out
He set forth an idealistic view of society.
2.) literary to begin a journey
They were about to set forth on a voyage into the unknown.
set in phr v
if something sets in, especially something unpleasant, it begins and seems likely to continue for a long time
Winter seems to be setting in early this year.
Further economic decline set in during the 1930s.
set off phr v
1.) to start to go somewhere
I'll set off early to avoid the traffic.
set off for
Jerry and I set off on foot for the beach.
2.) set sth<=>off
to make something start happening, especially when you do not intend to do so
News that the claims might be true set off widespread panic.
Hong Kong's stock market fell, setting off a global financial crisis.
3.) set sth<=>off
to make an ↑alarm start ringing
Smoke from a cigarette will not normally set off a smoke alarm.
4.) set sth<=>off
to make a bomb explode, or cause an explosion
Any movement could have set off the bomb.
5.) set sth<=>off
if a piece of clothing, colour, decoration etc sets something off, it makes it look attractive
The blue sundress set off her long blonde hair.
6.) set sb off
to make someone start laughing, crying, or talking about something
Don't mention what happened - you'll only set her off again.
7.) set sth off against tax
to officially record the money you have spent on something connected with your job, in order to reduce the amount of tax you have to pay
Some expenses can be set off against tax.
set on [set on sb] phr v
1.) set sb on sb
to make people or animals attack someone
The farmer threatened to set his dogs on us.
2.) [usually passive]
if you are set on by people or animals, you are suddenly attacked by them
A thirty-five-year-old man was set on by four youths last night.
3.) set sb on/onto sb
to give someone information about a person who you think has done something wrong, because you want that person to be found and caught
If I refuse, he'll set the police onto me.
set out phr v
1.) to start a journey, especially a long journey
set out for
Kate set out for the house on the other side of the bay.
set out on a journey/drive/voyage etc
The band are setting out on a European tour in March.
2.) to start doing something or making plans to do something in order to achieve a particular result
set out to do sth
salesmen who deliberately set out to defraud customers
set out with the idea/purpose/intention etc of doing sth
They set out with the aim of becoming the number one team in the league.
3.) set sth<=>out
to explain ideas, facts, or opinions in a clearly organized way, in writing or in a speech
He set out the reasons for his decision in his report.
4.) set sth<=>out
to put a group of things down and arrange them
The market traders began setting out their displays.
5.) set out on sth
to start doing something, especially something new, difficult, or important
My nephew is just setting out on a career in journalism.
The government set out on a programme of economic reform.
set to phr v
to start doing something eagerly and with determination
If we all set to, we'll finish the job in half an hour.
set up phr v
to start a company, organization, committee etc
= ↑establish set sth<=>up
They want to set up their own import-export business.
new regulations for setting up political parties
set (yourself) up (as sth)
(=start your own business)
John decided to set up as a graphic designer.
set up shop/set up in business
(=begin operating a business)
Now Betterware plans to set up shop elsewhere in Europe.
set sth<=>up
to make the arrangements that are necessary for something to happen
I'll set up an appointment for you.
There was a lot of work involved in setting up the festival.
to prepare the equipment that will be needed for an activity so that it is ready to be used
The next band was already setting up on the other stage.
set sth<=>up
Can someone set the overhead projector up?
4.) ¦(BUILD/PUT UP)¦
set sth<=>up
to place or build something somewhere, especially something that is not permanent
They've set up road blocks around the city.
set sb<=>up informal
to trick someone in order to achieve what you want, especially to make it appear that they have done something wrong or illegal
Cox claimed that the police had tried to set him up.
set sb<=>up
BrE informal to provide someone with money that they need, especially in order to start a business
After he qualified as a doctor, his mother set him up in a practice of his own.
Selling her share of the company has set her up for life .
set sb up
BrE to make you feel healthy and full of energy
A good breakfast will set you up for the day .
8.) set yourself up as sth
to deliberately make people believe that you have the authority and skill to do something, especially when this is not true
politicians who set themselves up as moral authorities
set sb up
to put someone in a position in which they are able to do something, or in which something is likely to happen to them
set somebody up for
If he won the fight, it would set him up for a title shot.
Anyone with public duties sets themselves up for attack.
set sb<=>up informal
to arrange for two people to meet, because you think they might start a romantic relationship
'How did you meet Nick?' 'A friend set us up.'
11.) set up home/house also set up housekeeping
AmE to get your own home, furniture etc, especially when you leave your parents' home to live with a wife, husband, or partner
Many parents try to help their children set up home.
12.) set up a commotion/din/racket etc
to start making a loud, unpleasant noise
The party guests were setting up a steady din.
set up camp atcamp1 (1)
set 2
set2 W1S1 n
1¦(group of things)¦
4¦(theatre/film stage)¦
7 the set of somebody's face/jaw/shoulders etc
[Sense: 1-2, 5-6, 8-10; Date: 1300-1400; : Old French; Origin: sette, from Latin secta; SECT]
[Sense: 3-4, 7, 11; Date: 1300-1400; Origin: SET1]
a group of similar things that belong together or are related in some way
set of
a set of tools
We face a new set of problems.
The older generation have a different set of values.
a chess set
a television, or a piece of equipment for receiving radio signals
a colour television set
3.) ¦(FILM)¦
a place where a film or television programme is filmed
on set/on the set
Cruise met Kidman on the set of 'Days of Thunder'.
the scenery, furniture etc used on a stage in a play or in the place where a film or television show is being made
5.) ¦(SPORT)¦
one part of a game such as tennis or ↑volleyball
Sampras won the second set 6 - 4.
6.) ¦(PEOPLE)¦ [singular]
a group of people who are similar in some way and spend time together socially
a favourite meeting place of the smart set (=rich and fashionable people)
Val got in with a wild set at college.
→↑jet set
7.) the set of sb's face/jaw/shoulders etc
the expression on your face or the way you hold your body, which tells people how you are feeling
the set of somebody's face/jaw/shoulders etc of
From the set of her shoulders it was clear that Sue was exhausted.
the hard set of his face
8.) ¦(MUSIC)¦
a performance by a singer, band, or ↑disc jockey
Sasha performed a 3-hour set.
9.) ¦(MATHS)¦ technical
a group of numbers, shapes etc in ↑mathematics
The set (x, y) has two members.
10.)¦(STUDENTS)¦ BrE
a group of children who are taught a particular school subject together because they have the same level of ability in that subject
= ↑stream
top/bottom etc set
Adam's in the top set for maths.
11.) ¦(ONION)¦
a small onion that you plant in order to grow bigger ones
onion sets
set 3
set3 adj
5 set on/upon/against (doing) something
6¦(opinions/habits etc)¦
7 have your heart/sights set on something
8 set to do something
9 deep-set/wide-set/close-set eyes
10 be set with gems/jewels etc
12 set book/text etc
13¦(fixed expression)¦
[Date: 1200-1300; Origin: Past participle of SET1]
1.) ¦(PLACED)¦ [not before noun]
being in the position that is mentioned
set in/on/back etc
a medieval village set high on a hill
a big house set back from the road
used to say that something is in front of a particular background, especially in a way that is attractive
set against
a small town of white buildings, set against a background of hills
pink petals set against dark green foliage
3.) ¦(FIXED)¦ [only before noun]
a set amount, time etc is fixed and is never changed
We were paid a set amount each week.
The evening meal is served at a set time.
Small children like a set routine.
4.) ¦(READY)¦ [not before noun] informal
someone who is set for something is ready for it
set for
Are you all set for the trip?
set to do sth
I was just set to go when the phone rang.
Get set (=get ready) for a night of excitement.
On your marks - get set - go (=said to start a race) .
5.) set on/upon/against (doing) sth
determined about something
Nina's set on going to the party.
The government's dead set (=completely determined) against the plan.
not likely to change
People had very set ideas about how to bring up children.
Mark was 65 and rather set in his ways (=habits) .
7.) have your heart/sights set on sth
to want to do something very much, or to be aiming to do something
She's got her heart set on going to France this summer.
Don has his sights set on a career in law.
8.) set to do sth
likely to do something
The weather is set to change.
This issue is set to cause some embarrassment.
9.) deep-set/wide-set/close-set eyes
eyes whose position is deep in the face, far apart on the face, or close together on the face
10.) be set with gems/jewels etc
to be decorated with jewels
a gold bracelet set with rubies
11.) ¦(MEAL)¦ [only before noun]
BrE a set meal in a restaurant has a fixed price and a more limited choice than usual
set lunch/dinner/menu
The hotel does a very good set menu.
12.) set book/text etc
BrE a book that must be studied for an examination
literary if your face is set, it has a fixed expression on it, especially one that is angry, worried etc
He stared at her, his face set, his eyes hard and glittering.
Kate's face was set in a grim expression.
set smile/teeth/jaw
'Damn you,' he said through set teeth.

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

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