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- (idiomatic, intransitive) To leave; to begin a journey or trip.
- He set off in search of better opportunities.
- (idiomatic, transitive) To begin; to cause; to initiate.
- I had no idea that one simple comment would set off such a huge argument.
- (idiomatic, transitive) To cause to explode, let off.
- What a tragedy, that someone would set off a bomb in a crowded place.
- (idiomatic, transitive) To put into an angry mood; to start (a person) ranting or sulking, etc.
- Don't set him off or he won't shut up all day.
- (idiomatic, transitive) To enhance by emphasizing differences.
- Her plain white dress was set off by a bright red stole.
- 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide
- And then one afternoon in the hinder end of April came young Heriotside riding to the Skerburnfoot. His arm was healed, he had got him a fine new suit of green, and his horse was a mettle beast that well set off his figure.
- (idiomatic, transitive) To offset, to compensate for: to reduce the effect of, by having a contrary effect.
- My taxes did not increase because the amount of my raise was set off by my losses in the stock market.
- 1881, Henry James, Jr., The Portrait of a Lady, Chapter XXXIX, in The Atlantic Monthly, Volume XLVIII, Number CCLXXXVI (August, 1881), Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, page 215:
- When a woman had made such a mistake, there was only one way to repair it,—to accept it. One folly was enough, especially it was to last for ever; a second one would not much set it off.
- (printing, historical) To deface or soil the next sheet; said of the ink on a freshly printed sheet, when another sheet comes in contact with it before it has had time to dry.
To leave; begin a journey or trip
To begin; to cause; to initiate
To cause to explode
To make angry
To offset — see offset