1. the third son of Adam. Gen. 4:25
  2. a male given name: from a Hebrew word meaning “substitute.”

noun Egyptian Religion.

  1. the brother and murderer of Osiris, represented as having the form of a donkey or other mammal and regarded as personifying the desert.


  1. Old Testament Adam’s third son, given by God in place of the murdered Abel (Genesis 4:25)

verb sets, setting or set (mainly tr)

  1. to put or place in position or into a specified state or conditionto set a book on the table; to set someone free
  2. (also intr; foll by to or on) to put or be put (to); apply or be appliedhe set fire to the house; they set the dogs on the scent
  3. to put into order or readiness for use; prepareto set a trap; to set the table for dinner
  4. (also intr) to put, form, or be formed into a jelled, firm, fixed, or rigid statethe jelly set in three hours
  5. (also intr) to put or be put into a position that will restore a normal stateto set a broken bone
  6. to adjust (a clock or other instrument) to a position
  7. to determine or establishwe have set the date for our wedding
  8. to prescribe or allot (an undertaking, course of study, etc)the examiners have set “Paradise Lost”
  9. to arrange in a particular fashion, esp an attractive oneshe set her hair; the jeweller set the diamonds in silver
  10. (of clothes) to hang or fit (well or badly) when worn
  11. Also: set to music to provide music for (a poem or other text to be sung)
  12. Also: set up printing to arrange or produce (type, film, etc) from (text or copy); compose
  13. to arrange (a stage, television studio, etc) with scenery and props
  14. to describe or present (a scene or the background to a literary work, story, etc) in wordshis novel is set in Russia
  15. to present as a model of good or bad behaviour (esp in the phrases set an example, set a good example, set a bad example)
  16. (foll by on or by) to value (something) at a specified price or estimation of worthhe set a high price on his services
  17. (foll by at) to price (the value of something) at a specified sumhe set his services at £300
  18. (also intr) to give or be given a particular directionhis course was set to the East
  19. (also intr) to rig (a sail) or (of a sail) to be rigged so as to catch the wind
  20. (intr) (of the sun, moon, etc) to disappear beneath the horizon
  21. to leave (dough, etc) in one place so that it may prove
  22. to sharpen (a cutting blade) by grinding or honing the angle adjacent to the cutting edge
  23. to displace alternate teeth of (a saw) to opposite sides of the blade in order to increase the cutting efficiency
  24. to sink (the head of a nail) below the surface surrounding it by using a nail set
  25. computing to give (a binary circuit) the value 1
  26. (of plants) to produce (fruits, seeds, etc) after pollination or (of fruits or seeds) to develop after pollination
  27. to plant (seeds, seedlings, etc)
  28. to place (a hen) on (eggs) for the purpose of incubation
  29. (intr) (of a gun dog) to turn in the direction of game, indicating its presence
  30. Scot and Irish to let or leaseto set a house
  31. bridge to defeat (one’s opponents) in their attempt to make a contract
  32. a dialect word for sit
  33. set eyes on to see


  1. the act of setting or the state of being set
  2. a condition of firmness or hardness
  3. bearing, carriage, or posturethe set of a gun dog when pointing
  4. the fit or hang of a garment, esp when worn
  5. the scenery and other props used in and identifying the location of a stage or television production, film, etc
  6. Also called: set width printing
    1. the width of the body of a piece of type
    2. the width of the lines of type in a page or column
  7. nautical
    1. the cut of the sails or the arrangement of the sails, spars, rigging, etc, of a vessel
    2. the direction from which a wind is blowing or towards which a tide or current is moving
  8. psychol a temporary bias disposing an organism to react to a stimulus in one way rather than in others
  9. a seedling, cutting, or similar part that is ready for plantingonion sets
  10. a blacksmith’s tool with a short head similar to a cold chisel set transversely onto a handle and used, when struck with a hammer, for cutting off lengths of iron bars
  11. See nail set
  12. the direction of flow of water
  13. a mechanical distortion of shape or alignment, such as a bend in a piece of metal
  14. the penetration of a driven pile for each blow of the drop hammer
  15. a variant spelling of sett


  1. fixed or established by authority or agreementset hours of work
  2. (usually postpositive) rigid or inflexibleshe is set in her ways
  3. unmoving; fixeda set expression on his face
  4. conventional, artificial, or stereotyped, rather than spontaneousshe made her apology in set phrases
  5. (postpositive; foll by on or upon) resolute in intentionhe is set upon marrying
  6. (of a book, etc) prescribed for students’ preparation for an examination


  1. a number of objects or people grouped or belonging together, often forming a unit or having certain features or characteristics in commona set of coins; John is in the top set for maths
  2. a group of people who associate together, esp a cliquehe’s part of the jet set
  3. maths logic
    1. Also called: classa collection of numbers, objects, etc, that is treated as an entity: 3, the moon is the set the two members of which are the number 3 and the moon
    2. (in some formulations) a class that can itself be a member of other classes
  4. any apparatus that receives or transmits television or radio signals
  5. tennis squash badminton one of the units of a match, in tennis one in which one player or pair of players must win at least six gamesGraf lost the first set
    1. the number of couples required for a formation dance
    2. a series of figures that make up a formation dance
    1. a band’s or performer’s concert repertoire on a given occasionthe set included no new numbers
    2. a continuous performancethe Who played two sets

verb sets, setting or set

  1. (intr) (in square dancing and country dancing) to perform a sequence of steps while facing towards another dancerset to your partners
  2. (usually tr) to divide into setsin this school we set our older pupils for English

masc. proper name, Biblical third son of Adam, literally “set, appointed,” from Hebrew Sheth, from shith “to put, set.” The Gnostic sect of Sethites (2c.) believed Christ was a reappearance of Seth, whom they venerated as the first spiritual man. v.Old English settan (transitive) “cause to sit, put in some place, fix firmly; build, found; appoint, assign,” from Proto-Germanic *(bi)satjan “to cause to sit, set” (cf. Old Norse setja, Swedish sätta, Old Saxon settian, Old Frisian setta, Dutch zetten, German setzen, Gothic satjan), causative form of PIE *sod-, variant of *sed- “to sit” (see sit (v.)). Also cf. set (n.2). Intransitive sense from c.1200, “be seated.” Used in many disparate senses by Middle English; sense of “make or cause to do, act, or be; start” and that of “mount a gemstone” attested by mid-13c. Confused with sit since early 14c. Of the sun, moon, etc., “to go down,” recorded from c.1300, perhaps from similar use of the cognates in Scandinavian languages. To set (something) on “incite to attack” (c.1300) originally was in reference to hounds and game. adj.“fixed,” c.1200, sett, past participle of setten “to set” (see set (v.)). Meaning “ready, prepared” first recorded 1844. n.1“collection of things,” mid-15c., from Old French sette “sequence,” variant of secte “religious community,” from Medieval Latin secta “retinue,” from Latin secta “a following” (see sect). “[I]n subsequent developments of meaning influenced by SET v.1 and apprehended as equivalent to ‘number set together'” [OED]. The noun set was in Middle English, but only in the sense of “religious sect” (late 14c.), which likely is the direct source of some modern meanings, e.g. “group of persons with shared status, habits, etc.” (1680s). Meaning “complete collection of pieces” is from 1680s. Meaning “group of pieces musicians perform at a club during 45 minutes” (more or less) is from c.1925, though it is found in a similar sense in 1580s. Set piece is from 1846 as “grouping of people in a work of visual art;” from 1932 in reference to literary works. Egyptian god, from Greek Seth, from Egyptian Setesh. n.2“act of setting; condition of being set” (of a heavenly body), mid-14c., from set (v.) or its identical past participle. Many disparate senses collect under this word because of the far-flung meanings assigned to the verb: “Action of hardening,” 1837; also “manner or position in which something is set” (1530s), hence “general movement, direction, tendency” (1560s); “build, form” (1610s), hence “bearing, carriage” (1855); “action of fixing the hair in a particular style” (1933). “Something that has been set” (1510s), hence the use in tennis (1570s) and the theatrical meaning “scenery for an individual scene in a play, etc.,” recorded from 1859. Other meanings OED groups under “miscellaneous technical senses” include “piece of electrical apparatus” (1891, first in telegraphy); “burrow of a badger” (1898). Old English had set “seat,” in plural “camp; stable,” but OED finds it “doubtful whether this survived beyond OE.” Cf. set (n.1). Set (n.1) and set (n.2) are not always distinguished in dictionaries; OED has them as two entries, Century Dictionary as one. The difference of opinion seems to be whether the set meaning “group, grouping” (here (n.2)) is a borrowing of the unrelated French word that sounds like the native English one, or a borrowing of the sense only, which was absorbed into the English word. v.

  1. To put in a specified position; place.
  2. To put into a specified state.
  3. To put into a stable position.
  4. To fix firmly or in an immobile manner.
  5. To become fixed or hardened; coagulate.
  6. To bring the bones of a fracture back into a normal position or alignment.


  1. The act or process of setting.
  2. The condition resulting from setting.
  3. A permanent firming or hardening of a substance.
  4. The carriage or bearing of a part of the body.
  5. A particular psychological state, usually of anticipation or preparedness.

  1. A collection of distinct elements that have something in common. In mathematics, sets are commonly represented by enclosing the members of a set in curly braces, as {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}, the set of all positive integers from 1 to 5.

In addition to the idioms beginning with set

  • set about
  • set against
  • set an example
  • set apart
  • set a precedent
  • set aside
  • set at
  • set at rest
  • set back
  • set back on one’s heels
  • set back the clock
  • set by
  • set down
  • set eyes on
  • set fire to
  • set foot
  • set forth
  • set forward
  • set in
  • set in motion
  • set in one’s ways, be
  • set off
  • set on
  • set on a pedestal
  • set one back
  • set one back on one’s feet
  • set one’s back up
  • set one’s cap for
  • set one’s face against
  • set one’s heart on
  • set one’s mind at rest
  • set one’s mind on
  • set one’s seal on
  • set one’s sights on
  • set one’s teeth on edge
  • set on fire
  • set out
  • set right
  • set sail
  • set store by
  • set straight
  • set the pace
  • set the record straight
  • set the scene for
  • set the table
  • set the wheels in motion
  • set the world on fire
  • set to
  • set tongues wagging
  • set to rights
  • set up
  • set up housekeeping
  • set upon
  • set up shop
  • also see:

  • all set
  • dead set against
  • get set
  • get (set) someone’s back up
  • get (set) the ball rolling
  • lay (set) eyes on
  • on a pedestal, set
  • smart set
  • tongues wagging, set
  • Also see underput.

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