From Middle English besetten, bisetten, from Old English besettan (to beset; set beside; set near; appoint; place; own; possess), from Proto-Germanic *bisatjaną (to set near; set around), equivalent to be- +‎ set. Cognate with Saterland Frisian besätte (to occupy), West Frisian besette (to occupy), Dutch bezetten (to sit in; occupy; fill), German Low German besetten (to occupy), German besetzen (to seize; occupy; garrison), Danish besætte (to occupy; obsess), Swedish besätta (to fill; occupy; beset).



beset (third-person singular simple present besets, present participle besetting, simple past and past participle beset)

  1. (transitive) To surround or hem in.
  2. (transitive, sometimes figurative) To attack or assail, especially from all sides.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar [], OCLC 928184292:
      “Nay, for matter o’ that, he never doth any mischief,” said the woman; “but to be sure it is necessary he should keep some arms for his own safety; for his house hath been beset more than once; and it is not many nights ago that we thought we heard thieves about it []
  3. (transitive) To decorate something with jewels etc.
  4. (nautical) Of a ship, to get trapped by ice.

Derived termsEdit


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