The following context is given:

When Jerry Wagner and Kevin Moonan came out of the bar they were perfect setups.

What does the phrase I emphasized mean?

  • 1
    Add the context. Setup has a couple of meanings. If we forcefully fit, both the meanings look fine here. – Maulik V Sep 3 '14 at 4:55
  • 2
    As mentioned more context is needed, but my guess would be setup sense 4d, "a person who is easily tricked". "Perfect" basically means ideal. – user3169 Sep 3 '14 at 5:20

If I'm right, your sentence is out of "The Godfather" by Mario Puzo.

The two big men were getting out of the car. They were both ex-boxers who had never made it past the small clubs and had been fixed up by Sonny Corleone with a little loan-shark action so that they could make a decent living. They were, naturally, anxious to show their gratitude.

When Jerry Wagner and Kevin Moonan came out of the bar they were perfect setups. The bar girl's taunts had left their adolescent vanity prickly. Paulie Gatto, leaning against the fender of his car, called out to them with a teasing laugh, Hey, Casanova, those broads really brushed you off.

The two young men turned on him with delight. Paulie Gatto looked like a perfect outlet for their humiliation. Ferret-faced, short, slightly built and a wise guy in the bargain. They pounced on him eagerly and immediately found their arms pinned by two men grabbing them from behind. At the same moment Paulie Gatto had slipped onto his right hand a specially made set of brass knuckles studded with one-sixteenth-inch iron spikes. His timing was good, he worked out in the gym three times a week. He smashed the punk named Wagner right on the nose. The man holding Wagner lifted him up off the ground and Paulie swung his arm, uppercutting into the perfectly positioned groin. Wagner went limp and the big man dropped him. This had taken no more than six seconds.

In that case, setup has the following meaning:

a scheme or trick intended to incriminate or deceive someone.

"Listen. He didn't die. It was a setup.”

synonyms: trick, trap; conspiracy; informal put-up job, frame-up

Source: Google

The perfect setups, in the given sentence, implies that Jerry and Kevin were in just the right spot/place/situation to be tricked into the trap placed by Paulie Gatto.

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