Etymology
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setness (n.)

1640s, "state, quality, or character of being set, in any sense," from set (n.2) + -ness.

Old English had setnes, which was pressed into service in Old and Middle English (setnesse) to translate various ideas in Roman law and Christianity: "foundation, creation, construction; size, extent; statute or law, ordinance; constitution; instruction; sentence; pre-arranged time." But modern use seems to be a fresh coinage of the 17c. The notion in the older word is "what is decreed or determined." Compare German Gesetz "a law, statute," which is related to setzen "to make sit, set, put" and other examples under law (n.)). 

updated on June 20, 2022

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