set (someone or something) off

(redirected from set them off)

set (someone or something) off

1. To ignite or cause something to explode. Kids in the area have been setting off fireworks all night long. The police set a small bomb off to force the door open.
2. To cause something to begin or occur. The incident set off a series of protests that ultimately resulted in the law being changed. Adding salt to the solution will set off a chain reaction, producing a great amount of heat and light.
3. To trigger or activate something. If you open this door, it will set off the fire alarm. The fire set off the sprinkler system.
4. To make someone very angry or upset. Having his integrity questioned set Jim off like nothing I've seen before. Nothing sets me off more than seeing someone hit a child.
5. To induce someone to lecture or talk about something at length. Don't bring up taxes, or you'll set your father off again. Seeing someone in uniform always sets Jerry off about his time in the military.
See also: off, set

set someone off

 
1. Fig. to cause someone to become very angry; to ignite someone's anger. (Based on set something off {2}.) That kind of thing really sets me off ! Your rude behavior set off Mrs. Franklin.
2. Fig. to cause someone to start talking or lecturing about a particular subject. (Based on set something off .) When I mentioned high taxes it really set Walter off. He talked and talked. The subject set off my uncle, and he talked on endlessly.
See also: off, set

set something off

 
1. Lit. to ignite something, such as fireworks. The boys were setting firecrackers off all afternoon. They set off rocket after rocket.
2. Fig. to cause something to begin. The coach set the race off with a shot from the starting pistol. She set off the race with a whistle.
3. Fig. to make something distinct or outstanding. The lovely stonework sets the fireplace off quite nicely. The white hat really sets off Betsy's eyes.
See also: off, set

set off (for something)

to leave for something or some place. We set off for Springfield three hours late. It was afternoon before we could set off.
See also: off, set

set off

1. Give rise to, cause to occur, as in The acid set off a chemical reaction. [Early 1600s]
2. Cause to explode, as in They set off a bomb. [Late 1800s]
3. Distinguish, show to be different, contrast with, as in That black coat sets him off from the others in the picture, or Italics set this sentence off from the rest of the text. [Late 1500s]
4. Enhance, make more attractive, as in That color sets off her blonde hair. [Early 1600s]
5. Begin a journey, leave, as in When do you set off for Europe? [Second half of 1700s]
See also: off, set

set off

v.
1. To give rise to something; cause something to occur: The heat set off a chemical reaction. A branch fell on my car and set the alarm off.
2. To cause something to explode: At midnight, we set off a string of firecrackers. The terrorists were building a bomb and planned to set it off in the train station.
3. To make someone suddenly or demonstrably angry: The clerk's indifference finally set me off. The constant delays set off even the most patient passengers.
4. set off from To indicate someone or something as being different; distinguish someone or something: His strong features set him off from the crowd. Indented margins set off the quotation from the rest of the text.
5. To direct attention to something by contrast; accentuate something: The editor suggested that I set off the passage with italics. The artist set the photograph off with a black background.
6. To counterbalance, counteract, or compensate for something. Used chiefly in the passive: Our dismay at her leaving was set off by our knowing that she was happy.
7. To start on a journey: When do you set off for China? The soldier set off on a mission.
See also: off, set
References in classic literature ?
They have various ways of dressing their heads, and spare no expense in ear-rings, necklaces, or anything that may contribute to set them off to advantage.
She had lately remitted the trespass of a stage-coachman, who had overturned her post-chaise into a ditch; nay, she had even broken the law, in refusing to prosecute a highwayman who had robbed her, not only of a sum of money, but of her ear-rings; at the same time d--ning her, and saying, "Such handsome b--s as you don't want jewels to set them off, and be d--n'd to you." But now, so uncertain are our tempers, and so much do we at different times differ from ourselves, she would hear of no mitigation; nor could all the affected penitence of Honour, nor all the entreaties of Sophia for her own servant, prevail with her to desist from earnestly desiring her brother to execute justiceship (for it was indeed a syllable more than justice) on the wench.
When these people are admitted to hospital and are no longer getting their daily fix, the least thing can set them off.
We also showed them how to find the controls, how to use the electronic orienteering controls and set them off on various different mini courses.
And they were shown off to great effect on Saturday when the lovely sunny autumn weather set them off beautifully.
If the Mossad can make off with a half-ton of top secret Iranian nuclear documents, then it can plant major explosives in areas filled with Hamas kite flyers and set them off when the time is ripe.
Some people are just immature and it affects everyone else who do set them off safe.
It's not like we'd set them off in the sky or anything where they could hurt us.
The incident occurred late Friday when a passenger placed a suitcase containing the firecrackers too close to the vehicle's engine, causing heat from the motor to set them off, John Wilson Rengifo, mayor of the town of Candelaria, told AFP, citing witness accounts.
"I bought them for November 5 to set them off for the kids instead of fireworks.
They then came up with the idea of the satellite navigation system which really did set them off in the right direction.
Specific information bytes or special tips are highlighted and blocked to set them off for the eye of the reader.
I wondered if those letting them off know that the only place they are legally allowed to set them off is in their own back garden.
A spokesman said: "We want to give all young people the opportunity to take part in a practice interview to set them off on the first rung of the ladder and help prepare them for adult and working life."