Etymology
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set off (v.)

verbal phrase; see set (v.) + off (adv.). From 1590s as "make prominent by contrast," 1610s as "adorn." Intransitive sense of "start on or as on a journey" is from 1774. Meaning "separate from contect" (in typography) is from 1824; sense of "ignite, discharge, cause to explode" is from 1810.

updated on June 21, 2022

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Definitions of set off from WordNet

set off (v.)
put in motion or move to act;
Synonyms: trip / actuate / trigger / activate / spark off / spark / trigger off / touch off
set off (v.)
leave;
Synonyms: depart / part / start / start out / set forth / set out / take off
set off (v.)
direct attention to, as if by means of contrast;
I set off these words by brackets
Synonyms: bring out
set off (v.)
cause to burst with a violent release of energy;
Synonyms: explode / detonate / blow up
set off (v.)
make up for;
Synonyms: cancel / offset
set off (v.)
set in motion or cause to begin;
set off (v.)
provoke or stir up;
set off great unrest among the people
Synonyms: incite / instigate / stir up
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.