set back

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set back (third-person singular simple present sets back, present participle setting back, simple past and past participle set back)

  1. (transitive) To delay or obstruct.
    I expect it will set us back by a day or so, but I think a side trip will be worthwhile.
    Having the mindset that you "can't" reach your goals is only going to set you back.
  2. (transitive) To remove from or allow distance.
    Set it back from the road by twenty or thirty feet.
  3. (transitive) To install or position behind a boundary or surface, or in a recess.
    The statue was set back in a niche.
  4. (transitive, idiomatic) To cost money.
    How much do you suppose that fancy dress set her back?
  5. To reverse, go backwards.
    • 1939 December, John D. Hewitt, “Some Notable British Main Lines: II. Salisbury and Exeter, S.R.”, in Railway Magazine, page 412:
      Before the platforms were extended up to the actual junction, branch trains had to set back into a bay.


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