From Middle English besetten, bisetten, from Old English besettan (“to beset; set beside; set near; appoint; place; own; possess”), from Proto-Germanic *bisatjaną (“to set near; set around”), equivalent to be- + set. Cognate with Saterland Frisian besätte (“to occupy”), West Frisian besette (“to occupy”), Dutch bezetten (“to sit in; occupy; fill”), German Low German besetten (“to occupy”), German besetzen (“to seize; occupy; garrison”), Danish besætte (“to occupy; obsess”), Swedish besätta (“to fill; occupy; beset”).
- (transitive) To surround or hem in.
- 1985, Charles L. Scott, The Genus Haworthia (Liliaceae): A Taxonomic Revision, page 80:
- Vegetatively it is the nearest to H. translucens with its oblong-lanceolate leaves, with the margins and keel beset with pellucid teeth, but it differs and is characterised by the greyish-black quadrantly positioned globose flowers; […]
- (transitive, sometimes figurative) To attack or assail, especially from all sides.
- 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar, […], →OCLC:
- “Nay, for matter o’ that, he never doth any mischief,” said the woman; “but to be sure it is necessary he should keep some arms for his own safety; for his house hath been beset more than once; and it is not many nights ago that we thought we heard thieves about it […]
- 2021 July 28, Paul Clifton, “£67 million Isle of Wight line extension submitted to DfT”, in RAIL, number 936, page 21:
- Track and platforms have been upgraded, but refurbished trains from Vivarail have been beset by software problems.
- (transitive) To decorate something with jewels etc.
- (nautical) Of a ship, to get trapped by ice.
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beset (present beset, present participle besettende, past participle beset)