American English

Definition of set verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they set
    he / she / it sets
    past simple set
    -ing form setting
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  1. 1[transitive] set something/somebody + adv./prep. to put something or someone in a particular place or position She set a tray down on the table. They ate everything that was set in front of them. The house is set (= located) in fifty acres of parkland.
  2. 2[transitive] to cause someone or something to be in a particular state; to start something happening set somebody/something + adv./prep. Her manner immediately set everyone at ease. He pulled the lever and set the machine in motion. The new leader has set the party on the road to success. set somebody/something + adj. The hijackers set the hostages free. set somebody/something doing something Her remarks set me thinking.
  3. play/book/movie
  4. 3[transitive, usually passive] set something + adv./prep. to place the action of a play, novel, or movie in a particular place, time, etc. The novel is set in Los Angeles in the 1960s.
  5. clock/machine
  6. 4[transitive] set something (+ adv./prep.) to prepare or arrange something so that it is ready for use or in position She set the camera on automatic. I set my watch by (= make it show the same time as) the TV. Set the alarm for 7 o'clock.
  7. table
  8. 5[transitive] set a/the table (for somebody/something) to arrange knives, forks, etc. on a table for a meal Could you set the table for dinner? The table was set for six guests.
  9. jewelry
  10. 6[transitive, usually passive] to put a precious stone into a piece of jewelry set A in B She had the sapphire set in a gold ring. set B with A Her bracelet was set with emeralds.
  11. arrange
  12. 7[transitive] set something to arrange or fix something; to decide on something They haven't set a date for their wedding yet. The government has set strict limits on public spending this year. It is important to set realistic goals.
  13. example/standard, etc.
  14. 8[transitive] set something to fix something so that others copy it or try to achieve it This could set a new fashion. They set high standards of customer service. I am unwilling to set a precedent. She set a new world record for the high jump. I rely on you to set a good example.
  15. work/task
  16. 9[transitive] to give someone a piece of work, a task, etc. set something for somebody/yourself She's set a difficult task for herself. set somebody/yourself something She's set herself a difficult task. set somebody to do something I set some people to work on the problem.
  17. become firm
  18. 10[intransitive] to become firm or hard Leave the concrete to set for a few hours. + adj. The glue had set hard.
  19. face
  20. 11[transitive, usually passive] set something to fix your face into a firm expression Her jaw was set in a determined manner.
  21. hair
  22. 12[transitive] set something to arrange someone's hair while it is wet so that it dries in a particular style She had her hair washed and set.
  23. bone
  24. 13[transitive, intransitive] set (something) to put a broken bone into a fixed position and hold it there, so that it will heal; to heal in this way The surgeon set her broken arm.
  25. for printing
  26. 14[transitive] set something (technology) to use a machine or computer to arrange writing and images on pages in order to prepare a book, newspaper, etc. for printing see also typesetter
  27. words to music
  28. 15[transitive] set something (to something) to write music to go with words Schubert set many poems to music.
  29. of sun/moon
  30. 16[intransitive] to go down below the horizon We sat and watched the sun setting. opposite rise, sunset
  31. Phrasal Verbsset about somethingset somebody against somebodyset something against somethingset somebody/something apart (from somebody/something)set somethingapart (for something)set somethingasideset something/somebodybackset somebody back somethingset something back (from something)set somethingdownset forthset somethingforthset inset something in/into somethingset offset somethingoffset somebody off (doing something)set something off against somethingset on/upon somebodyset somebody/something on somebodyset outset somethingoutset toset somebodyupset somethingupset (yourself) up (as somebody)
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: set