set off

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See also: set-off and setoff



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

  1. (idiomatic, intransitive) To leave; to begin a journey or trip.
    He set off in search of better opportunities.
  2. (idiomatic, transitive) To begin; to cause; to initiate.
    I had no idea that one simple comment would set off such a huge argument.
  3. (idiomatic, transitive) To cause to explode, let off.
    What a tragedy, that someone would set off a bomb in a crowded place.
  4. (idiomatic, transitive) To make angry.
    Don't set him off or he won't shut up all day.
  5. (idiomatic, transitive) To offset, to compensate for: to reduce the effect of, by having a contrary effect.
    My taxes did not increase because the amount of my raise was set off by my losses in the stock market.
    • 1881, Henry James, Jr., The Portrait of a Lady, Chapter XXXIX, in The Atlantic Monthly, Volume XLVIII, Number CCLXXXVI (August, 1881), Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, page 215:
      When a woman had made such a mistake, there was only one way to repair it,—to accept it. One folly was enough, especially it was to last for ever; a second one would not much set it off.
  6. (printing, historical) To deface or soil the next sheet; said of the ink on a freshly printed sheet, when another sheet comes in contact with it before it has had time to dry.


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