verb (used with object), be·set, be·set·ting.
- to attack on all sides; assail; harass: to be beset by enemies; beset by difficulties.
- to surround; hem in: a village beset on all sides by dense forest.
- to set or place upon; bestud: a gold bracelet beset with jewels.
- Nautical. to surround (a vessel) by ice, so that control of the helm is lost.
verb -sets, -setting or -set (tr)
- (esp of dangers, temptations, or difficulties) to trouble or harass constantly
- to surround or attack from all sides
- archaic to cover with, esp with jewels
Old English besettan “to put, place; own, keep; occupy, settle; cover, surround with, besiege,” from Proto-Germanic *bisatjan (cf. Old Saxon bisettjan, Dutch bezetten, Old High German bisezzan, German besetzen, Gothic bisatjan); see be- + set (v.). The figurative sense also was in Old English. Related: Beset (past tense); besetting.