Jaspers even records a dream in which, during a tense conversation with some of Heidegger's critics, his friend suddenly approached and addressed him for the first time with the familiar du. The two then set off together, alone.


What do you think "set off" means in the context of the above sentence. I considered the different meanings of the phrasal verb "set off" but none makes much sense for me.

  • The source is the last two sentences of Paragraph 13 in this extract in the NYT
    – GoDucks
    Dec 29, 2015 at 15:57
  • Set off means depart or leave as correctly stated by @tdmsoares. But his explanation of together is not correct. Which is why I wrote a new question about the sentence and in my own answer looked at the meanings of alone and together.
    – GoDucks
    Dec 29, 2015 at 17:59

1 Answer 1


According to English Thesaurus, the meanings of set off, can be, among the many meanings, compensation or departure. In this case set off means depart, leave... Does it sound crazy?

Together, means, (the main meaning is accompaniment, junction, union) but it can means in some cases: synchronism (according to English Thesaurus), when adverb. In this phrase together means in context at the same time. So the meaning of this phrase can be understood as:

The two then set off (leave) together (at the same time), alone.

In this definition, together can mean at the same time in some cases

  • 1
    Do you by any chance mean an English thesaurus? And if so, which one are you referring to?
    – oerkelens
    Dec 29, 2015 at 14:12
  • @oerkelens I just edited the answer with the right name of the dictionary. Sometimes ot happen when typing on phone... Thanks!
    – tdmsoares
    Dec 29, 2015 at 14:18
  • @oerkelens English Thesaurus from Dictdata I'm using in Android
    – tdmsoares
    Dec 29, 2015 at 14:59
  • 2
    After due consideration I have had to downvote this answer because it incorrectly states that in the sentence at hand together primarily means at the same time. Actually, it has its normal primary meaning of in each other's company or with each other.
    – GoDucks
    Dec 29, 2015 at 16:40
  • 1
    When two people set off together they naturally set off at the same time. But at the same time is not the primary meaning here. The primary meaning is in each other's company, as I have shown.
    – GoDucks
    Dec 29, 2015 at 17:55

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