Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “set”

set

verb  /set/ us  

set verb (PUT)

[T always + adv/prep] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) to put something in a particular place or position: Set the box on its end. Our house is set back from the road. [T always + adv/prep] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) If you set something down, you put it on a surface: [M] She set down her teacup and leaned forward. [T always + adv/prep] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) If you set a story in a particular place or time, the events happen then or there: Banks’s novel is set in the years before the Civil War.

set verb (CAUSE A CONDITION)

(present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) to cause someone or something to be in a particular condition, or to begin doing something: [T] He carelessly dropped a match and set the grass on fire. [T] His remarks set me thinking. [L] The wildness in her paintings is what sets them apart. [+ to infinitive] With the deadline only a few weeks away, I set to work right away.

set verb (ARRANGE)

[T] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) to arrange or adjust something so it is ready to work or be used: I’ve set the clock to daylight savings time. To get rid of mice, set a trap – or get a cat. My job is to set the table before dinner (= arrange the plates, utensils, etc.).

set verb (ESTABLISH)

[T] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) to establish a pattern or example to follow: Parents should try to set a good example. The governor wants to set spending limits. She set a new world record at the Wannamaker Games.

set verb (BECOME FIXED)

[I/T] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) to cause something to become fixed or firm: [T] Have they set a date for the wedding yet? [I] Glue that sets quickly makes it easier to repair things. [T] The old man’s face was set in a continual scowl. [I/T] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) If you have your hair set, you have it arranged while it is wet so that it will stay in a particular style when it is dry. [I/T] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) If a stone is set, it is fixed in a piece of jewelry: [T] The blue stone was set in a gold ring. [I/T] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) When a broken bone is set, it is kept in a fixed position so that it can heal.

set verb (MOVE DOWN)

[I] (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) (esp. of the sun or moon) to sink in the sky until it cannot be seen: The sun sets with a great show of color.

set

noun  /set/ us  

set noun (PLAY BACKGROUND)

[C] something built or put together to represent a place where the action happens in a play or movie: The set looks just like a real subway car.

set noun (GROUP)

[C] a group of things that belong together or are used together: a chess set a number set She has a strange set of symptoms. [C] A set is also a group of people who have similar interests and spend time together: the golf-playing set [C] In tennis, a set is a group of games between the same competitors: The match was over quickly, four sets to two.

set noun (TELEVISION)

[C] a television: I walked in the room and turned off the set.

set noun (POSITION)

[C/U] a position or an arrangement, esp. of the hair or body: [U] I could tell from the set of his jaw that he was angry. [C] Could you give my hair a set like the one in the picture in this magazine?

set

adjective [not gradable]  /set/ us  

set adjective [not gradable] (READY)

with everything arranged; ready: [+ to infinitive] Katy is set to go to college in September. Is everything all set for the party?

set adjective [not gradable] (FIXED)

fixed or firm: There wasn’t a set time for us to get there. If you are set on something, you have firmly decided about it: HMOs are good if you aren’t set on one specific doctor.
(Definition of set from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of set?
Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Neglecting and ignoring, but you might be interested in these topics from the Attention and care topic area:

Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “set” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

tankard

a large usually drinking cup, usually made of metal, with sloping sides, a handle, and sometimes a lid, mainly used for drinking beer

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More