/ set; NAmE / verb , noun , adjective
( set·ting , set , set )
PUT / START
[ vn + adv. / prep. ] to put sth/sb 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.
to cause sb/sth to be in a particular state; to start sth happening :
[ vn + adv. / prep. ]
Her manner immediately set everyone at their ease .
He pulled the lever and set the machine in motion .
[ vn - adj ]
The hijackers set the hostages free .
[ vn -ing ]
Her remarks set me thinking.
PLAY / BOOK / MOVIE
[ vn ] [ usually passive ] 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.
CLOCK / MACHINE
[ vn ] to prepare or arrange sth 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.
[ vn ] set a / the table 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.
[ vn ] [ usually passive ] set A in B | set B with A to put a precious stone into a piece of jewellery :
She had the sapphire set in a gold ring.
Her bracelet was set with emeralds.
[ vn ] to arrange or fix sth; to decide on sth :
They haven't set a date for their wedding yet.
The government has set strict limits on public spending this year.
EXAMPLE / STANDARD, etc.
[ vn ] to fix sth 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 .
WORK / TASK
set sth (for sb) | set sb (to do sth) to give sb a piece of work, a task, etc. :
[ vn ]
Who will be setting (= writing the questions for) the French exam?
What books have been set (= are to be studied) for the English course?
[ vnn , vn ]
She's set herself a difficult task.
She's set a difficult task for herself.
[ vn to inf ]
I've set myself to finish the job by the end of the month.
—see also set book
to become firm or hard :
[ v ]
Leave the concrete to set for a few hours.
[ v - adj ]
The glue had set hard.
[ vn ] [ usually passive ] to fix your face into a firm expression :
Her jaw was set in a determined manner.
[ vn ] to arrange sb's hair while it is wet so that it dries in a particular style :
She had her hair washed and set.
[ vn ] 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.
[also v ]
[ vn ] ( technical ) 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
WORDS TO MUSIC
[ vn ] set sth (to sth) to write music to go with words :
Schubert set many poems to music.
OF SUN / MOON
[ v ] to go down below the horizon :
We sat and watched the sun setting.
—see also sunset
Idioms containing set are at the entries for the nouns and adjectives in the idioms, for example set the pace is at pace n.
- set about sb
- set about sth
- set sb against sb
- set sth (off) against sth
- set sb/sth apart (from sb/sth)
- set sth apart (for sth)
- set sth aside
- set sth/sb back
- set sb back sth
- set sth back (from sth)
- set sb down
- set sth down
- set forth
- set sth forth
- set in
- set sth in / into sth
- set off
- set sth off
- set sb off (doing sth)
- set on / upon sb
- set sb/sth on sb
- set out
- set sth out
- set to
- set sb up
- set sth up
- set (yourself) up (as sb)
[ C ] set (of sth) a group of similar things that belong together in some way :
a set of six chairs
a complete set of her novels
a set of false teeth
a new set of rules to learn
You can borrow my keys—I have a spare set.
—see also tea set
[ C ] a group of objects used together, for example for playing a game :
a chess set
[ C +sing./pl. v . ] (sometimes disapproving ) a group of people who have similar interests and spend a lot of time together socially :
the smart set (= rich, fashionable people)
Dublin's literary set
—see also the jet set
TV / RADIO
[ C ] a piece of equipment for receiving television or radio signals
FOR PLAY / MOVIE
[ C ] the scenery used for a play, film / movie, etc. :
We need volunteers to help build and paint the set.
[ C , U ] a place where a play is performed or part of a film / movie is filmed :
The cast must all be on (the) set by 7 in the morning.
[ C ] one section of a match in games such as tennis or volleyball :
She won in straight sets (= without losing a set) .
[ C ] a group of things that have a shared quality :
[ C ] a series of songs or pieces of music that a musician or group performs at a concert
[ C ] ( BrE ) a group of school students with a similar ability in a particular subject :
She's in the top set for French.
OF FACE / BODY
[ sing. ] set of sth the way in which sb's face or body is fixed in a particular expression, especially one showing determination :
She admired the firm set of his jaw.
[ sing. ] an act of arranging hair in a particular style while it is wet :
A shampoo and set costs £15.
[ sing. ] the state of becoming firm or solid
[ C ] = sett
[ C ] a young plant, shoot etc. for planting :
in a particular position :
a house set in 40 acres of parkland
He had close-set eyes.
[ usually before noun ] planned or fixed :
Each person was given set jobs to do.
The school funds a set number of free places.
Mornings in our house always follow a set pattern.
—see also set book
OPINIONS / IDEAS
not likely to change :
set ideas / opinions / views on how to teach
As people get older, they get set in their ways .
[ only before noun ] ( of a meal in a restaurant ) having a fixed price and a limited choice of dishes :
a set dinner / lunch / meal
Shall we have the set menu ?
LIKELY / READY
set for sth | set to do sth likely to do sth; ready for sth or to do sth :
Interest rates look set to rise again.
The team looks set for victory.
Be set to leave by 10 o'clock
[ usually before noun ] ( of a person's expression ) fixed; not natural :
a set smile
His face took on a set expression.
- be (dead) set against sth / against doing sth
- be set on sth / on doing sth
—more at mark noun
verb Old English settan , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zetten , German setzen , also to sit .
noun late Middle English : partly from Old French sette , from Latin secta sect, partly from the verb set .
adjective late Old English , past participle of the verb set .