Which word in the English language has the most definitions?

The word SET has the most definitions of any word in the English language.
SET has 464 definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Here’s how the others stack up:CB029654
RUN – 396 (defs.)
           GO – 368
          TAKE – 343
          STAND – 334
          GET – 289
          TURN – 288
          PUT – 268
          FALL – 264
          STRIKE – 250
set 1 
v. set, set·ting, sets
1. To put in a specified position; place: set a book on a table.
2. To put into a specified state: set the prisoner at liberty.
a. To put into a stable position: set the fence post into a bed of concrete.
b. To fix firmly or in an immobile manner: He set his jaw and concentrated on flying the plane through the storm.
4. To restore to a proper and normal state when dislocated or broken: set a broken arm.
a. To adjust for proper functioning.
b. To adjust (a saw) by deflecting the teeth.
c. Nautical To spread open to the wind: set the sails.
6. To adjust according to a standard.
7. To adjust (an instrument or device) to a specific point or calibration: set an alarm clock.
8. To arrange properly for use: set a place for a dinner guest; set a table.
9. To apply equipment, such as curlers and clips, to (hair) in order to style.
10. Printing
a. To arrange (type) into words and sentences preparatory to printing; compose.
b. To transpose into type.
11. Music
a. To compose (music) to fit a given text.
b. To write (words) to fit a given melodic line.
12. To arrange scenery on (a theater stage).
13. To prescribe the unfolding of (a drama or narrative, for instance) in a specific place: a play that is set in Venice.
14. To prescribe or establish: set a precedent.
15. To prescribe as a time for: set June 6 as the day of the invasion.
16. To detail or assign (someone) to a particular duty, service, or station: set the child to cleaning the closets; set guards around the perimeter.
17. To incite to hostile action: a war that set families against one another.
a. To establish as the highest level of performance: set a world aviation record.
b. To establish as a model: A parent must set a good example for the children.
a. To put in a mounting; mount: set an emerald in a pendant.
b. To apply jewels to; stud: a tiara that was set with diamonds.
20. To cause to sit.
a. To put (a hen) on eggs for the purpose of hatching them.
b. To put (eggs) beneath a hen or in an incubator.
22. Sports To position (oneself) in such a way as to be ready to start running a race.
23. Sports To pass (a volleyball), usually with the fingertips, in an arc close to the net so that a teammate can drive it over the net.
a. To value or regard something at the rate of: She sets a great deal by good nutrition.
b. To fix at a given amount: The judge set bail for the defendant at $50,000.
c. To make as an estimate of worth: We set a high value on human life.
25. To point to the location of (game) by holding a fixed attitude. Used of a hunting dog.
26. Botany To produce, as after pollination: set seed.


For more definitions, visit freedictionary.com and search for set.


About robertstevenson

Dr. Robert Stevenson is a Professor of Journalism and Director of Student Publications for the Department of Mass Communications and Theater at Lander University in Greenwood, SC. He received the Distinguished Faculty of the Year award for 2007-'08, and the Lander University Young Faculty Scholar Award in 2005-06. Stevenson also serves as chair of the Lander University American Democracy Project. First and Formost I am a dad of two wonderful boys.
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5 Responses to Which word in the English language has the most definitions?

  1. intern says:

    Dear Rob,

    20,000 women of all ages and from all walks of life will band together this weekend, Friday, November 21st – Saturday, November 22nd in Phoenix, Arizona and Portland, Oregon at two break-through inspirational annual events that are part of the nation’s largest and most successful women’s conference: The Women of Faith Conference and the REVOLVE All Access tour. Since they were founded, the events have attracted 4.2 Million women.

    This Friday, Glendale/Phoenix, AZ will welcome an expected 13,000 women ranging from young professionals in their 20’s who are just starting out to grandmothers in their 80’s – all drawn together in an event that has a powerful, universal appeal that unites generations at Jobing.com Arena located at 9400 W Maryland Av. on November 21-22. Through a non-stop mix of contemporary music, comedy, drama and inspirational stories, the events leave a lasting impact on the lives of the women who attend. The Women of Faith conference will feature a variety of speakers and special guests to entertain and inspire including Mandisa (Grammy-nominated singer; former American Idol finalist), Sandi Patty (the most-awarded female artist in CCM- SPELL OUT history), , Sheila Walsh (former host of the 700 Club) and Nicole C. Mullen (Eight-time Dove award winner), just to name a few.

    In addition, teen girls ranging from 6th grade through 12th grade will attend a fun, rockin event at Portland’s Rose Garden Arena, located at One Center Court. Now in its 4th year, REVOLVE will reach out to teens using music, drama, personal stories, and videos to address issues relevant to teenage girls today, including relationships with friends and family, body image and self esteem, relationships with guys, and faith. This high-octane, multi-media, concert event combines drama, real-life stories, and music from billboard chart toppers Christian rock bank Hawk Nelson. This powerhouse, punk foursome has appeared on NBC’s “American Dreams”, had a cameo appearance in the hit Nickelodeon film “Yours, Mine, & Ours,” as well as had their songs featured on NBC’s 2006 Stanley Cup promo spots, WB’s Smallville, Summerland, & Laguna Beach. Their most recent release Hawk Nelson Is My Friend debuted at #34 on the Billboard Top 200 and on the digital store iTunes at No. 13 debut on the Top 100 albums chart. REVOLVE also features award-winning artists like Natalie Grant (GMA’s reigning Female Vocalist of the Year for the 3rd year in a row), international sensation Krystal Meyers (featured on commercials during the Olympic Games), and more.

    Tickets are still available and can be purchased at:

    Women of Faith: http://www.womenoffaith.com or by calling 888-49-FAITH.

    REVOLVE: http://www.revolvetour.com/newsroom.

    Thank you for your support.

    Denise Lepow

  2. I approved your comment even though it had nothing to do with the post because I think the revolve tour is a good thing. I particularly like Hawk Nelson. I’ve blogged about them and seen them many times.

  3. mike says:

    That is amazing all of those short words have so many definitions.

  4. Barry says:

    Here I figured you would have set us straight on how to use set in different ways. Maybe it was a set up. Well, I am all set to go so I guess I really won’t know what your heart was set on when you wrote this.

    See ya Rob

  5. Charlie says:

    I find that quite funny. and rather surprising. 🙂



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