Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Setting Something Straight

The other (early!) morning a question popped into my head. What word has the most different meanings? I set my mind to finding an answer.

I just had to look it up.

All set?

That word is...


verb, noun, adjective, interjection

–verb (used with object)

1. to put (something or someone) in a particular place: to set a vase on a table.
2. to place in a particular position or posture: Set the baby on his feet.
3. to place in some relation to something or someone: We set a supervisor over the new workers.
4. to put into some condition: to set a house on fire.
5. to put or apply: to set fire to a house.
6. to put in the proper position: to set a chair back on its feet.
7. to put in the proper or desired order or condition for use: to set a trap.
8. to distribute or arrange china, silver, etc., for use on (a table): to set the table for dinner.
9. to place (the hair, esp. when wet) on rollers, in clips, or the like, so that the hair will assume a particular style.
10. to put (a price or value) upon something: He set $7500 as the right amount for the car. The teacher sets a high value on neatness.
11. to fix the value of at a certain amount or rate; value: He set the car at $500. She sets neatness at a high value.
12. to post, station, or appoint for the purpose of performing some duty: to set spies on a person.
13. to determine or fix definitely: to set a time limit.
14. to resolve or decide upon: to set a wedding date.
15. to cause to pass into a given state or condition: to set one's mind at rest; to set a prisoner free.
16. to direct or settle resolutely or wishfully: to set one's mind to a task.
17. to present as a model; place before others as a standard: to set a good example.
18. to establish for others to follow: to set a fast pace.
19. to prescribe or assign, as a task.
20. to adjust (a mechanism) so as to control its performance.
21. to adjust the hands of (a clock or watch) according to a certain standard: I always set my watch by the clock in the library.
22. to adjust (a timer, alarm of a clock, etc.) so as to sound when desired: He set the alarm for seven o'clock.
23. to fix or mount (a gem or the like) in a frame or setting.
24. to ornament or stud with gems or the like: a bracelet set with pearls.
25. to cause to sit; seat: to set a child in a highchair.
26. to put (a hen) on eggs to hatch them.
27. to place (eggs) under a hen or in an incubator for hatching.
28. to place or plant firmly: to set a flagpole in concrete.
29. to put into a fixed, rigid, or settled state, as the face, muscles, etc.
30. to fix at a given point or calibration: to set the dial on an oven; to set a micrometer.
31. to tighten (often fol. by up): to set nuts well up.
32. to cause to take a particular direction: to set one's course to the south.
33. Surgery. to put (a broken or dislocated bone) back in position.
34. (of a hunting dog) to indicate the position of (game) by standing stiffly and pointing with the muzzle.
35. Music. a. to fit, as words to music.
b. to arrange for musical performance.
c. to arrange (music) for certain voices or instruments.
36. Theater. a. to arrange the scenery, properties, lights, etc., on (a stage) for an act or scene.
b. to prepare (a scene) for dramatic performance.
37. Nautical. to spread and secure (a sail) so as to catch the wind.
38. Printing. a. to arrange (type) in the order required for printing.
b. to put together types corresponding to (copy); compose in type: to set an article.
39. Baking. to put aside (a substance to which yeast has been added) in order that it may rise.
40. to change into curd: to set milk with rennet.
41. to cause (glue, mortar, or the like) to become fixed or hard.
42. to urge, goad, or encourage to attack: to set the hounds on a trespasser.
43. Bridge. to cause (the opposing partnership or their contract) to fall short: We set them two tricks at four spades. Only perfect defense could set four spades.
44. to affix or apply, as by stamping: The king set his seal to the decree.
45. to fix or engage (a fishhook) firmly into the jaws of a fish by pulling hard on the line once the fish has taken the bait.
46. to sharpen or put a keen edge on (a blade, knife, razor, etc.) by honing or grinding.
47. to fix the length, width, and shape of (yarn, fabric, etc.).
48. Carpentry. to sink (a nail head) with a nail set.
49. to bend or form to the proper shape, as a saw tooth or a spring.
50. to bend the teeth of (a saw) outward from the blade alternately on both sides in order to make a cut wider than the blade itself.

–verb (used without object)

51. to pass below the horizon; sink: The sun sets early in winter.
52. to decline; wane.
53. to assume a fixed or rigid state, as the countenance or the muscles.
54. (of the hair) to be placed temporarily on rollers, in clips, or the like, in order to assume a particular style: Long hair sets more easily than short hair.
55. to become firm, solid, or permanent, as mortar, glue, cement, or a dye, due to drying or physical or chemical change.
56. to sit on eggs to hatch them, as a hen.
57. to hang or fit, as clothes.
58. to begin to move; start (usually fol. by forth, out, off, etc.).
59. (of a flower's ovary) to develop into a fruit.
60. (of a hunting dog) to indicate the position of game.
61. to have a certain direction or course, as a wind, current, or the like.
62. Nautical. (of a sail) to be spread so as to catch the wind.
63. Printing. (of type) to occupy a certain width: This copy sets to forty picas.
64. Nonstandard. sit: Come in and set a spell.


65. the act or state of setting or the state of being set.
66. a collection of articles designed for use together: a set of china; a chess set.
67. a collection, each member of which is adapted for a special use in a particular operation: a set of golf clubs; a set of carving knives.
68. a number, group, or combination of things of similar nature, design, or function: a set of ideas.
69. a series of volumes by one author, about one subject, etc.
70. a number, company, or group of persons associated by common interests, occupations, conventions, or status: a set of murderous thieves; the smart set.
71. the fit, as of an article of clothing: the set of his coat.
72. fixed direction, bent, or inclination: The set of his mind was obvious.
73. bearing or carriage: the set of one's shoulders.
74. the assumption of a fixed, rigid, or hard state, as by mortar or glue.
75. the arrangement of the hair in a particular style: How much does the beauty parlor charge for a shampoo and set?
76. a plate for holding a tool or die.
77. an apparatus for receiving radio or television programs; receiver.
78. Philately. a group of stamps that form a complete series.
79. Tennis. a unit of a match, consisting of a group of not fewer than six games with a margin of at least two games between the winner and loser: He won the match in straight sets of 6–3, 6–4, 6–4.
80. a construction representing a place or scene in which the action takes place in a stage, motion-picture, or television production.
81. Machinery. a. the bending out of the points of alternate teeth of a saw in opposite directions.
b. a permanent deformation or displacement of an object or part.
c. a tool for giving a certain form to something, as a saw tooth.
82. a chisel having a wide blade for dividing bricks.
83. Horticulture. a young plant, or a slip, tuber, or the like, suitable for planting.
84. Dance. a. the number of couples required to execute a quadrille or the like.
b. a series of movements or figures that make up a quadrille or the like.
85. Music. a. a group of pieces played by a band, as in a night club, and followed by an intermission.
b. the period during which these pieces are played.
86. Bridge. a failure to take the number of tricks specified by one's contract: Our being vulnerable made the set even more costly.
87. Nautical. a. the direction of a wind, current, etc.
b. the form or arrangement of the sails, spars, etc., of a vessel.
c. suit (def. 12).
88. Psychology. a temporary state of an organism characterized by a readiness to respond to certain stimuli in a specific way.
89. Mining. a timber frame bracing or supporting the walls or roof of a shaft or stope.
90. Carpentry. nail set.
91. Mathematics. a collection of objects or elements classed together.
92. Printing. the width of a body of type.
93. sett (def. 3).


94. fixed or prescribed beforehand: a set time; set rules.
95. specified; fixed: The hall holds a set number of people.
96. deliberately composed; customary: set phrases.
97. fixed; rigid: a set smile.
98. resolved or determined; habitually or stubbornly fixed: to be set in one's opinions.
99. completely prepared; ready: Is everyone set?


100. (in calling the start of a race): Ready! Set! Go!



  1. Holy Cow, Stan! Did you look these all up yourself? Or is there a resource? I mean, just coming up with possibilities would be a week's work, I would think.
    Anyway...interesting blog!

  2. This is awesome, Stan. Thanks for diligent research.

  3. "the"...thanks for the diligent research. Sheesh.

  4. Wow Stan you sure set me back with all those meanings. Awesome!