from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To put in a specified position; place: set a book on a table.
  • transitive v. To put into a specified state: set the prisoner at liberty.
  • transitive v. To put into a stable position: set the fence post into a bed of concrete.
  • transitive v. To fix firmly or in an immobile manner: He set his jaw and concentrated on flying the plane through the storm.
  • transitive v. To restore to a proper and normal state when dislocated or broken: set a broken arm.
  • transitive v. To adjust for proper functioning.
  • transitive v. To adjust (a saw) by deflecting the teeth.
  • transitive v. Nautical To spread open to the wind: set the sails.
  • transitive v. To adjust according to a standard.
  • transitive v. To adjust (an instrument or device) to a specific point or calibration: set an alarm clock.
  • transitive v. To arrange properly for use: set a place for a dinner guest; set a table.
  • transitive v. To apply equipment, such as curlers and clips, to (hair) in order to style.
  • transitive v. Printing To arrange (type) into words and sentences preparatory to printing; compose.
  • transitive v. Printing To transpose into type.
  • transitive v. Music To compose (music) to fit a given text.
  • transitive v. Music To write (words) to fit a given melodic line.
  • transitive v. To arrange scenery on (a theater stage).
  • transitive v. To prescribe the unfolding of (a drama or narrative, for instance) in a specific place: a play that is set in Venice.
  • transitive v. To prescribe or establish: set a precedent.
  • transitive v. To prescribe as a time for: set June 6 as the day of the invasion.
  • transitive v. To detail or assign (someone) to a particular duty, service, or station: set the child to cleaning the closets; set guards around the perimeter.
  • transitive v. To incite to hostile action: a war that set families against one another.
  • transitive v. To establish as the highest level of performance: set a world aviation record.
  • transitive v. To establish as a model: A parent must set a good example for the children.
  • transitive v. To put in a mounting; mount: set an emerald in a pendant.
  • transitive v. To apply jewels to; stud: a tiara that was set with diamonds.
  • transitive v. To cause to sit.
  • transitive v. To put (a hen) on eggs for the purpose of hatching them.
  • transitive v. To put (eggs) beneath a hen or in an incubator.
  • transitive v. Sports To position (oneself) in such a way as to be ready to start running a race.
  • transitive v. Sports To pass (a volleyball), usually with the fingertips, in an arc close to the net so that a teammate can drive it over the net.
  • transitive v. To value or regard something at the rate of: She sets a great deal by good nutrition.
  • transitive v. To fix at a given amount: The judge set bail for the defendant at $50,000.
  • transitive v. To make as an estimate of worth: We set a high value on human life.
  • transitive v. To point to the location of (game) by holding a fixed attitude. Used of a hunting dog.
  • transitive v. Botany To produce, as after pollination: set seed.
  • transitive v. To prepare (a trap) for catching prey.
  • transitive v. To fix (a hook) firmly into a fish's jaw.
  • intransitive v. To disappear below the horizon: The sun set at seven that evening.
  • intransitive v. To diminish or decline; wane.
  • intransitive v. To sit on eggs. Used of fowl.
  • intransitive v. To become fixed; harden. See Synonyms at coagulate.
  • intransitive v. To become permanent. Used of dye.
  • intransitive v. To become whole; knit. Used of a broken bone.
  • intransitive v. Botany To mature or develop, as after pollination.
  • intransitive v. Nonstandard To sit: "If Emmett drives, I could set up front” ( Bobbie Ann Mason).
  • intransitive v. To position oneself preparatory to an action, such as running a race.
  • adj. Fixed or established by agreement: a set time for the launching.
  • adj. Established by convention: followed set procedures for filing a grievance.
  • adj. Established deliberately; intentional: Our set purpose is to win the conflict.
  • adj. Fixed and rigid: "His bearded face already has a set, hollow look” ( Conor Cruise O'Brien).
  • adj. Unwilling or very reluctant to change: He is set in his ways.
  • adj. Intent and determined: "He is dead set against rushing abroad to build a plant” ( Fortune).
  • adj. Ready: We are set to leave early tomorrow morning.
  • n. The act or process of setting.
  • n. The condition resulting from setting.
  • n. The manner in which something is positioned: the set of her cap.
  • n. A permanent firming or hardening of a substance, as by cooling.
  • n. The deflection of the teeth of a saw.
  • n. The carriage or bearing of a part of the body.
  • n. A particular psychological state, usually that of anticipation or preparedness: "The mental set of an audience is crucial to his performance” ( Psychology Today).
  • n. A descent below the horizon.
  • n. The direction or course of wind or water.
  • n. A seedling, slip, or cutting that is ready for planting.
  • n. The act of arranging hair by waving and curling it.
  • n. Sports The act of setting a volleyball for a teammate.
  • set about To begin or start: set about solving the problem.
  • set apart To reserve for a specific use.
  • set apart To make noticeable: character traits that set her apart.
  • set aside To separate and reserve for a special purpose.
  • set aside To discard or reject.
  • set aside To declare invalid; annul or overrule: The court has set aside the conviction.
  • set at To attack or assail: The dogs set at the fox.
  • set back To slow down the progress of; hinder.
  • set back Informal To cost: That coat set me back $1,000.
  • set by To reserve for future use: It is wise to set food and money by in case of a future emergency.
  • set down To cause to sit; seat: Set the baby down here.
  • set down To put in writing; record: We set down the facts.
  • set down To regard; consider: Just set him down as a sneak.
  • set down To assign to a cause; attribute: Let's set the error down to inexperience.
  • set down To land (an aircraft): The pilot set the plane down hard.
  • set down Baseball To put out (a batter); retire. Used of a pitcher.
  • set forth To present for consideration; propose: set forth a sound plan.
  • set forth To express in words: She has set forth her ideas.
  • set forward To begin a journey.
  • set in To insert: set in the sleeve of a gown.
  • set in To begin to happen or be apparent: "Evening was setting in as I took the road over Mountain Top” ( Charles Siebert).
  • set in To move toward the shore. Used of wind or water.
  • set off To give rise to; cause to occur: set off a chemical reaction.
  • set off To cause to explode: set off a bomb.
  • set off To make suddenly or demonstrably angry: The clerk's indifference finally set me off.
  • set off To indicate as being different; distinguish: features setting him off from the crowd.
  • set off To direct attention to by contrast; accentuate: set off a passage with italics.
  • set off To counterbalance, counteract, or compensate for: Our dismay at her leaving was set off by our knowing that she was happy.
  • set off To start on a journey: set off for Europe.
  • set out To begin an earnest attempt; undertake: He set out to understand why the plan had failed.
  • set out To lay out systematically or graphically: set out a terrace.
  • set out To display for exhibition or sale.
  • set out To plant: set out seedlings.
  • set out To start a journey: She set out at dawn for town.
  • set to To begin working energetically; start in.
  • set to To begin fighting.
  • set up To place in an upright position.
  • set up To elevate; raise.
  • set up To raise in authority or power; invest with power: They set the general up as a dictator.
  • set up To put (oneself) forward as; claim to be: He has set himself up as an authority on the English language.
  • set up To assemble and erect: set up a new machine.
  • set up To establish; found: set up a charity.
  • set up To cause: They set up howls of protest over new taxes.
  • set up To establish in business by providing capital, equipment, or other backing.
  • set up To treat (someone) to drinks.
  • set up To pay for (drinks).
  • set up Informal To stimulate or exhilarate: a victory that really set the team up.
  • set up To lay plans for: set up a kidnapping.
  • set up Informal To put (someone else) into a compromising situation by deceit or trickery: Swindlers have set me up.
  • set up Sports To make a pass to (a teammate), creating a scoring opportunity.
  • set upon To attack violently: Guards set dogs upon the escaping prisoners.
  • idiom set fire to To cause to ignite and burn.
  • idiom set foot in To enter.
  • idiom set foot on To step on.
  • idiom set in motion To give impetus to: The indictment set the judicial process in motion.
  • idiom set (one's) heart on To be determined to do something.
  • idiom set (one's) sights on To have as a goal: She set her sights on medical school.
  • idiom set on fire To cause to ignite and burn.
  • idiom set on fire To cause to become excited: The music set the audience on fire.
  • idiom set sail Nautical To begin a voyage on water.
  • idiom set (someone) straight To correct (someone) by providing full and accurate information.
  • idiom set store by To regard as valuable or worthwhile.
  • idiom set the pace To go at a speed that other competitors attempt to match or surpass.
  • idiom set the pace To behave or perform in a way that others try to emulate.
  • idiom set the stage for To provide the underlying basis for: saber rattling that set the stage for war.
  • idiom set up housekeeping To establish a household.
  • idiom set up shop To establish one's business operations.
  • n. A group of things of the same kind that belong together and are so used: a chess set.
  • n. A group of persons sharing a common interest: the high-school set.
  • n. A group of books or periodicals published as a unit.
  • n. A number of couples required for participation in a square dance.
  • n. The movements constituting a square dance.
  • n. The scenery constructed for a theatrical performance.
  • n. The entire enclosure in which a movie is filmed; the sound stage.
  • n. Music A session of music, typically dance music, played before an intermission.
  • n. Music The music so played.
  • n. The collective receiving apparatus assembled to operate a radio or television.
  • n. Mathematics A collection of distinct elements having specific common properties: a set of positive integers.
  • n. Sports A group of games constituting one division or unit of a match, as in tennis.
  • n. Sports An offensive formation in football or basketball.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To put (something) down, to rest.
  • v. To determine or settle.
  • v. To adjust.
  • v. To punch (a nail) into wood so that its head is below the surface.
  • v. To arrange with dishes and cutlery.
  • v. To introduce or describe.
  • v. To locate, to backdrop (a play, etc).
  • v. To compile, to make (a crossword).
  • v. To prepare (a stage or film set).
  • v. To fit (someone) up in a situation.
  • v. To arrange (type).
  • v. To devise and assign (work) to.
  • v. to sit.
  • v. To direct (the ball) to a teammate for an attack.
  • v. To solidify.
  • v. Of a heavenly body, to disappear below the horizon of a planet, etc, as it rotates.
  • v. To defeat a contract.
  • v. To begin to move; to go forth.
  • v. To be fixed for growth; to strike root; to begin to germinate or form.
  • v. To sit (be in a seated position).
  • n. A punch for setting nails in wood.
  • n. A device for receiving broadcast radio waves; a radio or television.
  • n. A sett; a hole made and lived in by a badger.
  • n. A small tuber or bulb used instead of seed, particularly onion sets and potato sets.
  • n. The amount the teeth of a saw protrude to the side in order to create the kerf.
  • adj. Fixed in position.
  • adj. Rigid, solidified.
  • adj. Ready, prepared.
  • adj. Intent, determined (to do something).
  • adj. Prearranged.
  • adj. Fixed in one’s opinion.
  • adj. Fixed in a certain style.
  • n. A young plant fit for setting out; a slip; shoot.
  • n. A rudimentary fruit.
  • n. The setting of the sun or other luminary; (by extension) the close of the day.
  • n. General movement; direction; drift; tendency.
  • n. A matching collection of similar things.
  • n. A collection of various objects for a particular purpose.
  • n. An object made up several parts
  • n. A collection of zero or more objects, possibly infinite in size, and disregarding any order or repetition of the objects which may be contained within it.
  • n. (informal) Set theory.
  • n. A group of people, usually meeting socially.
  • n. The scenery for a film or play.
  • n. The initial or basic formation of dancers.
  • n. ) A group of repetitions of a single exercise performed one after the other without rest.
  • n. A complete series of games, forming part of a match.
  • n. A complete series of points, forming part of a match.
  • n. The act of directing the ball to a teammate for an attack.
  • n. A musical performance by a band, disc jockey, etc., consisting of several musical pieces.
  • n. A drum kit, a drum set.
  • n. A class group in a subject where pupils are divided by ability.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Fixed in position; immovable; rigid.
  • adj. Firm; unchanging; obstinate.
  • adj. Regular; uniform; formal.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English setten, from Old English settan; see sed- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English sette, from Old French, from Medieval Latin secta, retinue, from Latin, faction; see sect.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English set, sete, sette ("that which is set, the act of setting, seat"), from Old English set ("setting, seat, a place where people remain, habitation, camp, entrenchment, a place where animals are kept, stall, fold") and Old English seten ("a set, shoot, slip, branch; a nursery, plantation; that which is planted or set; a cultivated place; planting, cultivation; a setting, putting; a stopping; occupied land"), related to Old English settan ("to set"). Compare Middle Low German gesette ("a set, suite"), Old English gesetl ("assembly"). According to Skeat, in senses denoting a group of things or persons, representing an alteration of sept, from Old French sette ("a religious sect"), from Medieval Latin secta ("retinue"), from Latin secta ("a faction"). See sect.


  • If we remember that the extension of a concept is something like the set of objects that fall under the concept, then we could replace Frege's talk of ˜extensions™ by talk of ˜sets™ and use the following ˜set notation™ to refer to the set of objects that when added to 4 yield 5 and the set of objects that when added to 22 yield 5, respectively:

    Frege's Logic, Theorem, and Foundations for Arithmetic

  • According to naïve set theory, the functional expression ˜set of™ is indeed characterized by a putative abstraction principle.

    Abstract Objects

  • In some parts of Bavaria such bushes are set up also at the houses of newly-married pairs, and the practice is only omitted if the wife is near her confinement; for in that case they say that the husband has “set up a May-bush for himself.

    Chapter 9. The Worship of Trees. § 2. Beneficent Powers of Tree-Spirits

  • That looks at the * first item* in the selection set [index number 0], and then * removes it from the set* when it's done, and goes back and looks at the first item in what's left.

    All Discussion Groups: Message List - root

  • Remember when you could set the default Internet settings (e.g. home page, mail account settings) in one place and any savvy Mac app could get or * set* them transparently?


  • This code, along with some of its context in the file action_controller / routing / route_set. rb (from Rails version 2.1.1), is listed below. class RouteSet class Mapper def initialize (set) @set = set end def connect (path, options = ) @set. add_route (path, options) end end def draw clear! yield Mapper. new (self) named_routes. install end def add_route (path, options = )

  • This code, along with some of its context in the file action_controller / routing / route_set. rb (from Rails version 2.1.1), is listed below. class RouteSet class Mapper def initialize (set) @set = set end def connect (path, options = {}) @set. add_route (path, options) end end def draw clear! yield Mapper. new (self) named_routes. install end def add_route (path, options = {})

  • [_He points to the sky, set thick with brilliant stars, the moon having already set_.

    Laura Secord, the heroine of 1812. A Drama. and Other Poems.

  • The term set point is often used to describe a physiological version of that same mechanism that controls our body temperature, weight, or any one of many other types of bodily homeostasis.

    The Answer

  • The younger girl was crying, and Tory was staring, her expression set as if she refused to let anyone see her fear.

    Crimson Wind


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  • Miscellaneous technical census

    August 25, 2018

  • The word set is also the past and presumably also the past participle of the verb set.

    December 14, 2013

  • I don't know what to make of the OED's set in the long run, but whatever it is going to take, I am set to understand the point. I see red. (see Reesetee's comment on longest definitions onset)

    February 14, 2012

  • I love that there's a collection of the longest definitions here. I'll take the whole set!

    February 14, 2012

  • I see the table is set for four.

    Why that's nothing my alarm clock is set for eight. - G Marx

    May 17, 2009

  • An environment used for filming.

    July 16, 2008

  • Zoiks! We're witnessing history in the making.

    November 16, 2007

  • News Flash from the OED website:

    "Set (the verb) no longer the longest entry in the OED

    For many years the verb to set has been cited as the longest entry in the OED. But a recheck shows that it has at last been toppled from this position. The longest entry in the revised matter is represented by the verb to make (published in June 2000). However, it is quite possible that set will regain its long-held position at the top of the league of long words when it comes itself to be revised.

    In ranking order, the longest entries currently in the online Third Edition of the OED are: make (verb - revised), set (verb), run (verb), take (verb), go (verb), pre- (revised), non- (revised), over- (revised), stand (verb), red, and then point (the noun - revised)."

    November 16, 2007

  • It's fun to compare the OED definition with the weirdnet one.

    November 16, 2007


    June 20, 2007

  • it really is nice to know there are more people like me in the world.

    December 13, 2006

  • If it helps, I read the fact somewhere when I was quite small and started looking up the length of the "set" entry in rather a lot of dictionaries afterward :)

    December 13, 2006

  • Thanx to sarra. BTW, I found where I read it: The Meaning of Everything: the story of the OED by Simon Winchester. Great book, highly recommended...

    December 13, 2006

  • shoot. wikipedia, that made it easy. I was simply going to look at my OED when I got home.

    December 13, 2006

  • The word set has a multitude of definitions in the English language (464 separate definitions according to the Oxford English Dictionary, making it the word with the highest number of definitions; its full definition contains over 10,000 words making it the longest definition in the OED).

    December 13, 2006

  • Could be; I still haven't found where I read or heard it. Eventually somebody will know...

    December 13, 2006

  • Wasn't it "run" which had the greatest number of definitions?

    December 13, 2006

  • Not completely sure about this yet, but I believe "set" has the longest definition in the OED (greatest number of pages).

    December 1, 2006