Etymology
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onset (n.)

1530s, "attack, assault, a rushing or setting upon," from on + set (n.); compare verbal phrase to set (something) on (someone), c. 1300, originally "sic (a dog) on." Weaker sense of "beginning, start" is recorded from 1560s. Figurative use in reference to a calamity, disease, etc. is from 1580s. Middle English had set (n.3) "attack, onslaught" (mid-14c.).

updated on June 12, 2022

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Definitions of onset from WordNet

onset (n.)
the beginning or early stages;
the onset of pneumonia
Synonyms: oncoming
onset (n.)
(military) an offensive against an enemy (using weapons);
Synonyms: attack / onslaught / onrush
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.