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See also: set back


English Wikipedia has an article on:
setback in architecture



Deverbal from set back.


  • IPA(key): /ˈsɛtbæk/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛtbæk



setback (plural setbacks)

  1. An obstacle, delay, disadvantage, blow (an adverse event which retards or prevents progress towards a desired outcome)
    After some initial setbacks, the expedition went safely on its way.
    • 2021 November 17, Nop Meechukhun, “Thailand’s Constitutional Court rules Section 1448 of heterosexual marriages lawful, LGBTQ rights groups ‘disappointed’”, in The Pattaya News[1], Bangkok: The Pattaya News Company Limited, retrieved 2021-11-17:
      The Constitutional Court has ruled today, November 17th, that Section 1448 of the Thai Civil and Commercial, stating that “a marriage can take place only between a man and a woman”, is constitutional under the Thai constitutional law. This decision could be a major setback for many Thai LGBTQ activist groups’ continued journey of what they call basic human rights to legally allow same-sex marriages in Thailand.
  2. (US) The required distance between a structure and a road.
  3. (architecture) A step-like recession in a wall.
    Setbacks were initially used for structural reasons, but now are often mandated by land use codes.
  4. An offset to the temperature setting of a thermostat to cover a period when more or less heating is required than usual.
    • 1980, Popular Science, volume 217, number 4:
      Fuel savings from thermostat setbacks have long been accepted as fact, but little documentation existed to support it.
  5. (possibly archaic) A backset; a countercurrent; an eddy.
  6. (archaic) A backset; a check; a repulse; a relapse.



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 The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for setback”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.)