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English definition of “set sth off”

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set sth off

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

(CAUSE)

C2 to cause an activity or event, often a series of events, to begin or happen: The court's initial verdict in the police officers' trial set off serious riots.C2 to cause a loud noise or explosion, such as that made by a bomb or an alarm (= a warning sound) to begin or happen: Terrorists set off a bomb in the city centre. Somebody set the alarm off on my car.

(MAKE NOTICEABLE)

to make something look attractive by providing a contrast (= attractive difference) to it: The new yellow cushions nicely set off the pale green of the chair covers.
(Definition of set sth off from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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