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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.


From Old English setl, from Germanic *setla-, representing Proto-Indo-European *sed-lo-, from *sed- (sit). Cognate with German Sessel, Dutch zetel; and with Greek ἑλλά, Latin sedo, Russian седло, Polish siodło. The verb (Old English setlan) developed from the noun.



settle (plural settles)

  1. (archaic) A seat of any kind.
    • Hampole
      upon the settle of his majesty
  2. A long bench, often with a high back and arms, with storage space underneath for linen.
  3. (obsolete) A place made lower than the rest; a wide step or platform lower than some other part.
    • Bible, Ezekiel xliii. 14
      And from the bottom upon the ground, even to the lower settle, shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit.


settle (third-person singular simple present settles, present participle settling, simple past and past participle settled)

  1. (transitive) To place in a fixed or permanent condition; to make firm, steady, or stable; to establish; to fix; especially, to establish in life; to fix in business, in a home, or the like.
    • And he settled his countenance steadfastly upon him,until he was ashamed. --2 Kings VIII. 11. (Rev. Ver.)
    • 1700, Ovid, Metamorphoses, translation of original by John Dryden:
      The father thought the time drew on Of settling in the world his only son.
  2. (transitive, obsolete, US) To establish in the pastoral office; to ordain or install as pastor or rector of a church, society, or parish.
    to settle a minister
  3. (transitive) To cause to be no longer in a disturbed condition; to render quiet; to still; to calm; to compose.
  4. (transitive) To clear of dregs and impurities by causing them to sink; to render pure or clear; -- said of a liquid
    to settle coffee, or the grounds of coffee
  5. (transitive) To restore or bring to a smooth, dry, or passable condition; -- said of the ground, of roads, and the like.
    clear weather settles the roads
  6. (transitive) To cause to sink; to lower; to depress; hence, also, to render close or compact.
    to settle the contents of a barrel or bag by shaking it
  7. (transitive) To determine, as something which is exposed to doubt or question; to free from uncertainty or wavering; to make sure, firm, or constant; to establish; to compose; to quiet.
    • Jonathan Swift
      It will settle the wavering, and confirm the doubtful.
    to settle the mind when agitated;  to settle questions of law;  to settle the succession to a throne;  to settle an allowance
  8. (transitive) To adjust, as something in discussion; to make up; to compose; to pacify.
    to settle a quarrel
  9. (transitive, archaic) To adjust, as accounts; to liquidate; to balance.
    to settle an account
  10. (transitive, colloquial) To pay.
    • Abbott
      to settle a bill
  11. (transitive) To plant with inhabitants; to colonize; to people.
    the French first settled Canada;  the Puritans settled New England;  Plymouth was settled in 1620.
  12. (intransitive) To become fixed or permanent; to become stationary; to establish one's self or itself; to assume a lasting form, condition, direction, or the like, in place of a temporary or changing state.
    • Francis Bacon
      The wind came about and settled in the west.
    • John Arbuthnot
      Chyle [] runs through all the intermediate colors until it settles in an intense red.
  13. (intransitive) To fix one's residence; to establish a dwelling place or home.
    the Saxons who settled in Britain
  14. (intransitive) To enter into the married state, or the state of a householder.
  15. (intransitive) To be established in an employment or profession.
    to settle in the practice of law
  16. (intransitive) To become firm, dry, and hard, as the ground after the effects of rain or frost have disappeared.
    the roads settled late in the spring.
  17. (intransitive) To become clear after being turbid or obscure; to clarify by depositing matter held in suspension.
    • Joseph Addison
      A government, on such occasions, is always thick before it settles.
    the weather settled;  wine settles by standing
  18. (intransitive) To sink to the bottom; to fall to the bottom, as dregs of a liquid, or the sediment of a reservoir.
  19. (intransitive) To sink gradually to a lower level; to subside, as the foundation of a house, etc.
  20. (intransitive) To become calm; to cease from agitation.
  21. (intransitive) To adjust differences or accounts; to come to an agreement.
    He has settled with his creditors.
  22. (intransitive, obsolete) To make a jointure for a wife.
    • Samuel Garth
      He sighs with most success that settles well.




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