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1. A situation that is contrived or manipulated to ensnare or deceive someone. A: "The doors are all locked and the police are outside!" B: "It's a setup! Every man for himself!" I could tell by the suspicious way she was acting that the whole interview was probably a setup, so I specifically avoided any illegal topic she tried to bring up.
2. A contest, especially a sporting event, arranged beforehand to have a particular outcome. Many suspected the fight of being a setup, considering how easily the former heavyweight champion went down in the second round.

set someone up (in business)

to help establish someone in business; to provide the money someone needs to start a business. My father set my sisters up in business. He helped set them up so he could keep the business in the family.
See also: set, up

set someone up

to lead-by deception-a person to play a particular role in an event; to arrange an event-usually by deception-so that a specific person suffers the consequences for the event; to frame someone. (See also set someone up (as something).) I had nothing to do with the robbery! I was just standing there. Somebody must have set me up! John isn't the one who started the fight. Somebody set up the poor guy.
See also: set, up

set something up (with someone)

to make plans for something. John is hard at work setting something up with Bill and Mary. Sally and Tom set up a party for Saturday night.
See also: set, up

set something up

1. Lit. to put something together; to erect something. My parents bought me a dollhouse, but I had to set it up myself. It took nearly an hour to set up the tent.
2. Fig. to establish or found something. We set up a fund to buy food for the needy. The business owners set a bank up in the small town.
See also: set, up

set up

1. Place in an upright position, as in I keep setting up this lamp but it won't stay up. [c. 1200]
2. Elevate, raise; also, put in a position of authority or power, as in They set him up as their leader. [Late 1300s]
3. Put oneself forward, claim to be, as in He set himself up as an authority on the banking system. [Mid-1800s]
4. Assemble, erect, make ready for use, as in They set up the sound system last night. [c. 1200]
5. Establish, found, as in They set up a new charity for the homeless. [Early 1400s]
6. Establish in business by providing capital or other backing, as in His father set her up in a new dental practice. [First half of 1500s]
7. Treat someone to drinks, pay for drinks, as in Please let us set you up tonight. [Colloquial; late 1800s]
8. Stimulate or exhilarate, as in That victory really set up our team. [c. 1600]
9. Lay plans for, as in I think they set up the kidnapping months ago. [First half of 1900s]
10. Prepare someone for a deception or trickery or joke, as in They set up their victim for the usual real estate scam, or Her friends set her up so that she was the only person in costume. [Mid-1900s]
11. Cause, bring about, as in The new taxes set up howls of protest. [Mid-1800s]
See also: set, up

set up

1. To place something in a high or upright position: Please set the books up on the top shelf.
2. To assemble, erect, or organize something: The kids set up a tent in the backyard. I bought a new table, but I'm not sure how to set it up. We need to set up a good schedule for taking the kids to school. The scientist set up the data in rows and columns. I have all the supplies for the picnic, so let's set them up.
3. To lay out a plan to do something: The police caught the gang trying to set up a kidnapping. They didn't commit the crime, but they did set it up.
4. To establish something; found something: We used the money to set up a charity. We don't have a separate office for handling taxes, but maybe we should set one up.
5. To give someone everything that is needed: Don't worry that you forgot to pack your good clothes; I'll set you up.
6. To establish someone in business by providing capital, equipment, or other backing: I wanted to start an Italian restaurant, and my grandparents, who were in the business for years, helped set me up. The agency set up the struggling entrepreneurs by providing small loans.
7. To treat someone, especially to drinks: The bartender sets up all of his close friends for one beer. If you don't have enough money for another beer, I'll set you up.
8. To create the needed conditions for something: The team's defense set up a good play.
9. Sports To make a pass to some other player in order to create an opportunity to score: I set up the other forward for an easy goal. The best offensive players don't always score the most, but they set their teammates up.
10. To put someone or something into a position of authority or power; invest someone with power: The board members set up the former secretary as the company's new president. The leaders of the coup set the general up as a dictator.
11. To give the impression, especially a false impression, that someone is something: She set herself up as an authority on Latin, but she really doesn't know that much. The newspapers set him up as a star athlete, but he had only played three professional games.
12. To put someone into a compromising situation by deceit or trickery: He set up the tourists by convincing them he needed bus fare to get home, and then he stole their money. Those swindlers have set me up.
13. To arrange for someone to meet someone as a possible mate: A friend set me up with his brother. The dating service set us up.
See also: set, up


1. n. a place to live. This is a pretty nice setup. What’s the rent?
2. n. a scheme; a plot. (Underworld.) I got a good little setup for earning some money.
3. n. a person who is set up for some swindle; a mark. (Underworld.) The setup got wise at the last minute.
4. n. a glass with ice for an alcoholic beverage. (Usually plural.) Can we have a couple of setups brought to our room, please?
References in periodicals archive ?
PAP therapy can be set-up by an RT in a patient's home, at their place of employment or at the home care company's office.
ACME produces original production cels, which are complete set-ups dictated by the original exposure sheets with the proper background or background reproduction.
Standard features: Twin hydraulic injection cylinders, optical encoder for screw position, CH-3.5 PC controller with LCD, storage for 150 mold set-ups, cycle-count setting for auto-stop.
A user-friendly front panel includes a knob to scroll through menus and select the testing parameters four function keys to input and save repetitive inspection criteria and an internal memory that can store up to 100 text set-ups.
By using the large pumps, it is unnecessary to carry out multiple set-ups as services are carried out along the pipeline.
The flight leader elected to omit the first two, more benign set-ups of the one-versus-one mission.
SafeGuard LAN Crypt 3.0 offers enhanced data security and access control for all computing environments, including terminal server and heterogeneous set-ups, according to Utimaco Safeware.
Westenhoefer is the most straight-talking lesbian in comedy: Her humor comes not from an off-kilter persona, elaborate set-ups, or shock value, but an understanding of the intense silliness of everyday life.
The glass container stream is often pointed to as the problem child in single-stream set-ups. Newsprint mills and other consumers do not want broken pieces of glass in their incoming stream.
Promise's FastTrak TX4000 ATA RAID controller targets high-performance desktop PC users interested in achieving enhanced performance in four-drive ATA RAID set-ups with a controller solution that provides four independent Ultra ATA channels.
TAPlus is made even more useful when combined with the user-friendly, Windows-based NEXYGEN MT software available from AMETEK, which offers specialized foodtest set-ups, and a sizable library of international standard tests.
(Jackson-Prichotta said they don't do audio conferences over the internet because there are so many different computer set-ups among different companies to make it work smoothly.)
Multicore[R] MP200 is a high-activity, low-residue, no-clean solder paste that exhibits print definition with long-open and abandon-time capabilities for manufacturing facilities with frequent set-ups. The high activity of the flux offers wetting to a wide range of surface finishes and a reflow process window.
They assure greater accuracy by using the original workpiece set-up, which eliminates possible errors created by new set-ups.
There's little thoughtful follow-through, and a lot of the questions are not questions -- they're just set-ups for the media to convey sound bites to the hometown.