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set (someone or something) back
1. To cost someone a specific amount of money. Getting the car fixed is going to set me back nearly a grand. It's estimated the failed product set the company back roughly $2 million. Wow, how much did those shoes set you back?
2. To delay someone for a specific amount of time. That computer virus wiped out our data and set us back nearly a month in our work. He was supposed to arrive by 9, but the traffic jam set him back about an hour.
3. To delay or hinder something. A series of conflicts within the administration has set healthcare reform back yet again.
4. To cause someone or something to be positioned some distance behind or away (from someone or something else). We made sure to set the audience back from the main stage by 10 feet or so to prevent anyone from trying to clamber on during the performance. You'll want to set this statue back a bit, or it will block your view of the courtyard.
5. To position something within a recessed area (of something). The bus stop bench was set back in the wall along the sidewalk so that it wouldn't get in the way of pedestrians.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
set someone back (some amount of money)
to cost someone (an amount of money). This coat set me back about $250. That fancy dinner at the restaurant last night really set us back.
set something backand put something back
to set something, like a timepiece, to a lower number. (Put is less common.) It's that time of year when you must set your clocks and watches back! Set back your clock tonight. I have to put all the clocks back.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Slow down the progress of, hinder, as in The project was set back by the frequent absences of staff members. [First half of 1500s]
2. Cost, as in That car set me back twenty thousand dollars. [Colloquial; c. 1900]
3. Change to a lower level or earlier time, as in We set back the thermostat whenever we go on vacation, or On October 10 we have to set back the clocks. [First half of 1600s] Set back the clock is also used figuratively to mean "return to an earlier era," as in He wished he could set back the clock to those carefree high-school days. Also see set forward.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To construct something so that it is a certain distance away from the edge of some boundary. Used in the passive: All houses must be set back 100 feet from the lake. The second tier of the building is set back 10 feet.
2. To slow down the progress of something; hinder something: Bad weather set the project back two weeks. The recent attacks have set back the peace process.
3. To cost someone some amount of money: That coat set me back $1,000.
4. To adjust some instrument or device to an earlier reading: Last fall, I forgot to set back my clock. The dealership set the odometer back and tried to sell the car as new.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.