From the verb phrase set back.
setback (plural setbacks)
- An obstacle, delay, or disadvantage.
- After some initial setbacks, the expedition went safely on its way.
- (US) The required distance between a structure and a road.
- (architecture) A step-like recession in a wall.
- Setbacks were initially used for structural reasons, but now are often mandated by land use codes.
- (possibly archaic) A backset; a countercurrent; an eddy.
- (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 The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.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, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)