Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “set”

set

verb uk   /set/ (present participle setting, past tense and past participle set) us  

set verb (POSITION)

B2 [T usually + adv/prep] to put something in a particular place or position: He set a vase of flowers on the table. The campsite is set in the middle of a pine forest. Our house is set back from the road. B1 [T usually + adv/prep] If a story, film, etc. is set in a particular time or place, the action in it happens in that time or place: 'West Side Story' is set in New York in the late 1950s.

set verb (CONDITION)

B2 [T] to cause something or someone to be in the stated condition or situation: It is believed that the building was set alight/ablaze/on fire deliberately. The new director has set a lot of changes in motion in our department. [+ adj] After years in prison, the men who had wrongfully been found guilty of the bombing were finally set free. If I've made a mistake, then it's up to me to set it right (= correct it). set sb/sth doing sth to cause someone or something to start doing something: His remarks set me thinking. The thunderstorm set the radio crackling. set sb to work to give someone work to do: I was set to work tidying the bookshelves.

set verb (ESTABLISH)

B2 [T] to establish or decide something: The school has been criticized for failing to set high standards for its students. The government has set new limits on spending. Lewis has set a new world record. The court's decision has set a legal precedent. Parents should set a good example to their children. He's set himself the goal/target of making his first million by the time he's 30.

set verb (GET READY)

B2 [T] to get something ready so that it comes into operation or can be used: [+ to infinitive] The heating is set to come on at 5 p.m. Have you set up the DVD player? I usually set my watch by the time signal on the radio. He set the alarm for 7 a.m. Will you set the table (= put plates, knives, forks, etc. on it ready for use), please? [T] to put furniture and other things on a stage so that it represents the time and the place in which the action of a play, film, or television programme is going to happen: During the interval the stage was set for the second act.

set verb (FIX)

B1 [T] to fix or make certain: Has a date/time been set for the meeting yet? The price of the house has been set at £425,000. set into sth/be set with sth If a precious stone is set in/into a piece of jewellery, or a piece of jewellery is set with a precious stone, the stone is fixed firmly to the piece of jewellery: a gold tiepin with a diamond set into it a brooch set with rubies and pearls [T] When a doctor sets a broken bone, he or she puts it into a fixed position so that it will heal. [I] When a broken bone sets, it heals in a fixed position. [T] If you have your hair set, you have it arranged while it is wet so that it will be fixed in a particular style when it is dry. [T] If you set a part of your body, you tighten the muscles around it in order to show that you are determined about something: "I'm never going back to him," she said, setting her jaw firmly. His face was set in determination. [I] If a liquid or soft material sets, it becomes firm or hard: Leave the jelly in the fridge to set. Don't walk on the concrete until it has set.

set verb (GIVE WORK)

B2 [T] mainly UK (US usually assign) to give or provide a piece of work or task for someone to do: My science teacher always sets a lot of homework. What books have been set for this term? [+ two objects] We set the kids the task of clearing the snow from the front path.

set verb (MUSIC)

[T] to write or provide music for a poem or other words so that they can be sung: poems set to music

set verb (SUN)

B1 [I] (of the sun, moon, or planets) to go down below the horizon (= the line at which the Earth seems to join the sky): We sat on the beach and watched the sun set. The setting sun cast long shadows across the lawn.
See also

set

noun uk   /set/ us  

set noun (GROUP)

A2 [C] a group of similar things that belong together in some way: We bought Charles and Mandy a set of cutlery as a wedding present. I always keep a tool set in the back of my car. The doctor said that he hadn't seen this particular set of symptoms before. We need to establish a new set of priorities. A2 [C] a number of objects or pieces of equipment needed for a particular activity, especially playing a game: a chess/train/chemistry set [C] specialized mathematics In mathematics, a set is a group of objects with stated characteristics. [C, + sing/pl verb] a group of people who have similar interests and ways of living: the London set She's got in with a very arty set. The smart set is/are going to the Caprice restaurant this season.

set noun (FILM/PLAY)

B2 [C] the place where a film or play is performed or recorded, and the pictures, furniture, etc. that are used: a film set a stage set a set designer They first met on the set of 'Star Wars'.

set noun (PART)

B2 [C] a part of a game of tennis: They won in straight sets (= they won every set). C2 [C] a musical performance that forms part of a concert, especially one of pop music or jazz: The band's opening set lasted 45 minutes.

set noun (POSITION)

the set of sth the position in which you hold a part of your body: I could tell from the set of his jaw that he was angry. [C] the act of having your hair set: a shampoo and set

set noun (TELEVISION)

[C] old-fashioned a television: We need a new television set.

set

adjective uk   /set/ us  

set adjective (READY)

C1 [after verb] ready and prepared: Shall we go now - is everyone set? Is everything all set for the party? At the start of the race, the starter said "On your marks, get set, go". We were just getting set to leave when Ben said he had something important to tell us. [after verb] likely or in a suitable condition: He looks set to become world champion again this year.

set adjective (FIXED)

C2 fixed or never changing: My parents say I have to be home by a set time. The restaurant does a set lunch (= a meal which is offered at a fixed price, but with little or no choice about what you have to eat) on Sundays. The receptionist had a bright set smile on his face, but I could tell that he was bored. My father has very set opinions/views on the matter. set expression/phrase a phrase in which the words are always used in the same order

set adjective (STUDY)

[before noun] a set book is one that must be studied for a particular course: The students are reading 'Lord of the Flies' as one of their set books/texts this year.
(Definition of set from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © 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

SMART Thesaurus: Placing and positioning an object

“set”: synonyms and related words:

Word of the Day

give the green light to sth

to give permission for someone to do something or for something to happen

Word of the Day

Highly delighted, bitterly disappointed, ridiculously cheap: adverbs for emphasis.

by Liz Walter,
October 22, 2014
We often make adjectives stronger by putting an adverb in front of them. The most common ones are very and, for a stronger meaning, extremely: He was very pleased. The ship is extremely large. However, we don’t use very or extremely for adjectives that already have a strong meaning, for example fantastic,

Read More 

life tracking noun

October 20, 2014
the use of one or more devices or apps to monitor health, exercise, how time is spent, etc.

Read More