set to work

Also found in: 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.
See also: set, to, work

set (someone or something) to work (on something)

To order, instruct, or schedule someone or program 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.
See also: set, to, work

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.
See also: set, to, work

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.
See also: set, to, work
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
See also: set, to, work

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.
See also: set, to, work
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

go/set to ˈwork (on something)

(also get (down) to ˈwork (on something)) start working on a particular task: I set to work on the car, giving it a good clean.I ought to get to work on that report.
See also: go, set, to, work

put/set somebody to ˈwork (on something)

make somebody start work (doing something): On his first day in the office they put him to work on some typing.
See also: put, set, somebody, to, work
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Like dam-builders, Balfour and a highly placed Chinese collaborator have set to work to stem and organize the torrential waste of meaning that was twentieth-century Shanghai and channel it into the twenty-first by way of mixed-use office towers, shopping malls, freeways, born-again trains and high profile pedestrianization.
Black Books: Dreaming of Michelin stars and critical acclaim, Manny and Bernard set to work transforming the bookshop into a restaurant and Fran decides to hang out with her exotic cousins.
The duo of skinny women set to work on business woman Vanessa Lanham, who has been nominated for her unfortunate dress sense by her friends.
As a laboratory superintendent, Davy set to work studying the properties of nitrous oxide.
The editors find that Vegio made no use at all of Valerius Flaccus's Argonautica -- it seems for the simple reason that he knew neither Poggio's partial discovery of the author in 1416 nor Niccoli's complete text, which began to radiate out of Florence in 1429, a year or so before he set to work on his own poem.
But then vet Paul Thompson set to work ...and turned him into a bionic tortoise.
As usual, he sends his family into stitches, and after a while we bring him around to a slightly more orthodox sign of the cross, but as his mother and sister and brother recover from the giggles and set to work eating their meals, his father's mind, as usual, rambles.
But not wishing to eschew red meats altogether, this kitchen chemist set to work concocting a simple way to extract their deleterious lipids.
There he hopes to "work the fat off his mind" so he can set to work on all the things he has dreamed of writing.
Firefighters set to work tackling the flames, which left a third of the container damaged.
Town are set to work off a much smaller budget next year - and unless the players take a huge wage cut then they will be snapped up by other clubs.
OFFENDERS set to work on a Warwickshire steam engine project have been praised by a community railway.
And so the engineers set to work to accomplish that, as the marketing folks came up with a term to describe what the engineers were providing: "Quiet Tuning." And the first sedan that is described as having it is the '05 LaCrosse, a midsize car that's meant to take on the likes of the Camry and the Accord but with the levels of refinement and attention to detail that one might expect from a Lexus or an Acura.
The architects, both with extensive experience in trading floor design, set to work creating a new 40,000 SF facility that duplicates the one in Manhattan.
The team set to work to make that happen in agriculture, and the name was changed to Creswell, Munsell, Shubert & Zirbel (CMS&Z).