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thick +‎ set

Alternative forms[edit]


thickset (comparative more thickset, superlative most thickset)

  1. Having a relatively short, heavy build.
    a thickset, muscular figure; a thickset workhorse
    Synonyms: big-boned, stocky, stout
    Antonyms: sleek, slender, slim, svelte, willowy
    • 1654, Samuel Clarke, The Marrow of Ecclesiastical History, London: T.V., “The Life of Theodore Beza,” p. 885,[2]
      He was a thick set man, and of a strong Constitution []
    • 1748, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, London: J. Osborn, Volume 1, Chapter 8, p. 52,[3]
      [] he directed me to a small chink in the board partition, through which I could see a thick set brawny fellow, with a fierce countenance,
    • 1872, George Eliot, Middlemarch, Book 4, Chapter 41,[4]
      The contrast was as striking as it could have been eighteen years before, when Rigg was a most unengaging kickable boy, and Raffles was the rather thick-set Adonis of bar-rooms and back-parlors.
    • 1926, Nalbro Bartley, Her Mother’s Daughter, New York: George H. Doran, Chapter 1,[5]
      More than ever Min hated her own thickset, healthy body, her round, red face with its small gray eyes, the mop of auburn hair which Aunt Julie braided so tightly []
    • 1970, Saul Bellow, Mr. Sammler’s Planet, Penguin, 1977, Chapter 6, p. 279,[6]
      Things edible would always be respected by a man who had nearly starved to death. The laborers, too, in white smocks, broad and heavy, a thickset personnel, butchers’ men.
  2. Densely crowded together; made up of things that are densely crowded together; closely planted.
    a thickset wood; a thickset hedge
    Synonyms: dense, thick
    Antonyms: sparse, thin
    • 1581, Thomas Newton (translator), Thebais in Seneca His Tenne Tragedies, London: Thomas Marsh, Act 2, p. 48,[7]
      [] let me be allowde
      To lurke behinde this Craggy Rocke, or els my selfe to hyde
      On backside of some thickset hedge:
    • 1612, Michael Drayton, Poly-Olbion, London: M. Lownes et al., Song 1, p. 11,[8]
      [] Corineus ran
      With slaughter through the thick-set squadrons of the foes;
    • 1635, John Taylor, The olde, old, very olde man: or the age and long life of Thomas Par, London: Henry Gosson,[9]
      [] though his Beard not oft corrected,
      Yet neare it growes, not like a Beard neglected
      From head to heele, his body hath all over,
      A Quick-set, Thick-set nat’rall hairy cover.
    • 1696, Jane Leade, A Fountain of Gardens, London, “Solomon’s Porch: or the Beautiful Gate of Wisdom’s Temple,”[10]
      The beauteous Love-Eye burning in the Heart;
      From whence Loves Centres endless multiply,
      As thick-set Spangles of the Sky,
      Raising a Sting of Joy in ev’ry Part.
    • 1700, John Dryden (translator), “Meleager and Atalanta, Out of the Eighth Book of Ovid’s Metamorphosis” in Fables Ancient and Modern, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 106,[11]
      His [the boar’s] Neck shoots up a thick-set thorny Wood;
      His bristled Back a Trench impal’d appears,
      And stands erected, like a Field of Spears.
    • 1862, Christina Rossetti, “A Birthday” in Goblin Market and Other Poems, London: Macmillan, p. 56,[12]
      My heart is like an appletree
      Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
    • 1950, Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast, London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, Chapter 77,
      It was for the arc of lanterned boats to close in and to form the thickset audience, armed and impenetrable.
  3. Densely covered (with something).
    a gully thickset with brambles
    • 1583, John Foxe, Acts and Monuments, London: John Day, Book 4, “The tragicall historie of Gregorie the vij. otherwise named Hildebrand,” p. 177,[13]
      [] in a vessell being thick set with sharpe nayles, he tormented him to the poynt of death:
    • 1660, Nathaniel Ingelo, Bentivolio and Urania, London: Richard Marriot, Book 3, p. 134,[14]
      The sides of the Church were so thick set with Pictures, that it seem’d to be made in imitation of Plato’s Den, where one could see nothing but shadowes.
    • 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 4,[15]
      A huge cherry-tree grew outside, so close that its boughs tapped against the house, and it was so thick-set with blossoms that hardly a leaf was to be seen.
    • 1929, Carl Grabo, The Cat in Grand-Father’s House, Chicago: Laidlaw Brothers, Chapter 7, p. 99,[16]
      [] he came to the house of the King of the Gnomes, which was inside a mountain and as thickset with jewels as the grass with dew on a fine morning.




thickset (countable and uncountable, plural thicksets)

  1. (countable, obsolete) A thick hedge.
    • 1858, Edward Bulwer-Lytton (as Pisistratus Caxton), What Will He Do with It? Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, Volume 4, Book 11, Chapter 7, p. 294,[17]
      Had Darrell been placed amidst the circumstances that make happy the homes of earnest men, Darrell would have been mirthful; had Waife been placed amongst the circumstances that concentrate talent, and hedge round life with trained thicksets and belting laurels, Waife would have been grave.
  2. (uncountable, historical) A stout, twilled cotton cloth; a fustian corduroy, or velveteen.[1]
    • 1812, George Crabbe, Tales, London: J. Hatchard, Tale 4, “Procrastination,” p. 73,[18]
      When he, with thickset coat of Badge-man’s blue,
      Moves near her shaded silk of changeful hue;
    • 1829, anonymous contributor, “A Day at Fontainebleau.—The Royal Hunt,” The Monthly Magazine, New Series, Volume 7, No. 37, January 1829, p. 12,[19]
      His breeches were of the homeliest thickset;
  3. (countable, historical) A piece of clothing made from this fabric.
    • 1785, John Trusler, Modern Times: or the Adventures of Gabriel Outcast, London: for the author, Volume 2, Chapter 17, p. 27,[20]
      [] his coat was originally what is called a thickset, but out at the elbows;
    • 1819, Walter Scott, The Bride of Lammermoor, Chapter 1,[21]
      I had observed that our landlord wore, on that memorable morning, a pair of bran new velveteens instead of his ancient thicksets.


  1. ^ Thomas McElrath, A Dictionary of Words and Phrases Used in Commerce, New York: Taintor Brothers, 1871, p. 535.[1]