besetting

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From beset +‎ -ing

Verb[edit]

besetting

  1. present participle of beset

Noun[edit]

besetting (plural besettings)

  1. The act of one who besets or attacks.
    • 1689, John Bunyan, The Jerusalem-sinner saved, or, Good news for the vilest of men being a help for despairing souls, shewing that Jesus Christ would have mercy in the first place offered to the biggest sinners:
      I might also here tell you of the contests and battles that such are engaged in, wherein they find the besettings of Satan, above any other of the saints.

Adjective[edit]

besetting (comparative more besetting, superlative most besetting)

  1. Deeply rooted; persistent.
    • 1902, William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Lectures 4 & 5:
      The first thing to bear in mind (especially if we ourselves belong to the clerico-academic-scientific type, the officially and conventionally “correct” type, “the deadly respectable” type, for which to ignore others is a besetting temptation) is that nothing can be more stupid than to bar out phenomena from our notice, merely because we are incapable of taking part in anything like them ourselves.
    • 1942, W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, Chapter 8:
      I did not then know the besetting sin of woman, the passion to discuss her private affairs with anyone who is willing to listen.
  2. Obsessive
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Chapter 8:
      Neither were they connected with fear: he was conscious of no fear. Rather, they originated in a strange besetting desire to know what to do when the time came; a desire gigantically disproportionate to the few swift moments to which it referred; a wondering that was more like the wondering of some other spirit within his, than his own.