I heard this exchange from a TV show:

Woman A: You are a smart, beautiful woman. You don't have to settle.

Woman B: I'm not settling.

The context is that Woman A is trying to persuade B not to date a famous guy anymore, because that guy has already married and has not made any promise to marry her.

I looked up dictionaries, but it seems that none of definitions could fit for the context.

So, what does settle mean here?


2 Answers 2


The word is from the domain of transactions and resolutions to transactions that don't turn out perfectly.

When the parties in a dispute settle, they accept less than what they wanted at the outset. The parties may feel that the lesser thing is better than nothing, which is the risk if they insist on everything they wanted but everything they wanted is simply not available.

The contract called for 10,000 widgets per month, but the supplier could only produce 7,500. We settled for the 7500 in return for guarantees that the price would not increase for two years.

The word is used in a figurative or extended sense in many contexts.

I wanted Vanilla Pecan Crunch ice-cream but they had none left. So I settled for plain vanilla.

The direct flights from New York to Denver were all sold out so I settled for a flight that required me to change planes in Chicago.

In the context of romantic liaisons and marriage, to settle is to accept the other person as your fate, despite the fact that they lack something or some quality you wanted.

She had hoped to marry a rich man and live an exciting cosmopolitan life but settled for a man who owned a little shop in a provincial town.


Think of it as "to settle for (something)" where the something is implied. So:

You are a smart, beautiful woman. You don't have to settle for that married guy.

See settle for:

phrasal verb
If you settle for something, you choose or accept it, especially when it is not what you really want but there is nothing else available.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .