set to work
Also found in: Legal, Acronyms.
set (someone or something) to work
To instruct or cause someone or something to begin working or functioning. Janet set us to work cleaning the house while she went and got groceries. I've set the system to work gathering data on all known suspects in the area.
set (someone or something) to work (on something)
To order, instruct, schedule, or (in the case of a machine) program someone or something to undertake a task or begin working on something. I set the students to work on writing their college applications. Our neighbor owns a farm, so we've asked him to set our son to work for the summer. We can set the machine to work on sorting the various packages.
set to work (doing something)
To begin to do something with a specific intention in mind. We set to work creating the most elegant and user-friendly smartphone ever made. He found a mop and set to work cleaning the floors in every room of the house.
set to work (on something)
To undertake a task; to begin working on something. I knew I had to have the report finished by tonight, so I set to work immediately. She set to work on a new design that would reduce emissions from the engine.
set someone or something to work
to start someone or something working; to cause someone or something to begin functioning. The captain set everyone to work repairing the tears in the fabric of the sails. We will set the machines to work at the regular time.
set to work (on someone or something)
to begin working on someone or something. We have finished questioning Tom, so we will set to work on Fred. We set to work on dinner at noon.