Definition of set verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//set//
    ; NAmE NAmE//set//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they set
    BrE BrE//set//
    ; NAmE NAmE//set//
    he / she / it sets
    BrE BrE//sets//
    ; NAmE NAmE//sets//
    past simple set
    BrE BrE//set//
    ; NAmE NAmE//set//
    past participle set
    BrE BrE//set//
    ; NAmE NAmE//set//
    -ing form setting
    BrE BrE//ˈsetɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈsetɪŋ//
    Exams and assessment, Styling hair, Film reviews and promotion, Making films
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  1. 1  [transitive] set something/somebody + adv./prep. to put something/somebody 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 somebody/something to be in a particular state; to start something happening set somebody/something + adv./prep. Her manner immediately set everyone at their 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 film/movie in a particular place, time, etc. The novel is set in London in the 1960s. See related entries: Film reviews and promotion, Making films
  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. jewellery
  10. 6[transitive, usually passive] to put a precious stone into a piece of jewellery 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.
  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] set something (for somebody) | set somebody (to do something) to give somebody a piece of work, a task, etc. set something Who will be setting (= writing the questions for) the French exam? set something for something What books have been set (= are to be studied) for the English course? 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/yourself to do something I've set myself to finish the job by the end of the month. See related entries: Exams and assessment
  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 somebody’s hair while it is wet so that it dries in a particular style She had her hair washed and set. See related entries: Styling hair
  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 (specialist) 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. see also sunset opposite rise
  31. Word Originverb Old English settan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zetten, German setzen, also to sit.Extra examples Have they set a date for their wedding? Her manner immediately set everyone at ease. Set a time limit for your studying each night. She’s set herself a difficult task. The first students are set to arrive in September. The hijackers set the hostages free. The house is set in fifty acres of parkland. The movie is set in Los Angeles in the year 2019. What books have been set for the English course? When she fell he picked her up and set her on her feet again. Who will be setting the French exam?Idioms Idioms containing set are at the entries for the nouns and adjectives in the idioms, for example set the pace is at pace n. Phrasal Verbsset about somebodyset about somethingset somebody against somebodyset something (off) against somethingset somebody apartset somethingapart (for something)set somethingasideset back somebodyset somebody back somethingset something back (from something)set somebodydownset somethingdownset forthset somethingforthset inset something in somethingset offset somethingoffset somebody off (doing something)set on somebodyset somebody on somebodyset outset somethingoutset toset somebodyupset somethingupset (yourself) up (as somebody)
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: set