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I have a question about the usage of the verb "set". According to definition 2 for the verb "set" in this dictionary:

  1. to cause the action of (a film, story, etc.) to happen in a certain place or during a certain time — often used as (be) set

, with these example usages:

-The play is set in Verona, Italy.
-The novel is set in 1943.
-a novel set during World War II
-The story is set against (the backdrop of) the Second World War.

But then, I saw this in a wikipedia article:

The election was set against the backdrop of World War II, which was going well for the United States and its Allies.

The 1944 presidential is not a play or movie or story. So, is the usage in the wikipedia article wrong?

  • 3
    It's a bit of a metaphorical usage. Note that the definition doesn't say that the thing has to be literally a play or movie. – stangdon Aug 3 '16 at 16:58
  • Why don't you try to find out what are the actual ways that native speakers abbreviate World War II? – Alan Carmack Aug 3 '16 at 22:38
3

What bigger drama can you imagine than an American presidential election?

Seriously, the writer of the Wikipedia article uses the term set to present an image of the election as a theatrical production: the use of the word backdrop reinforces this image.

The writer is simply using a little artistic license.

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The play is set in Denmark. But that is not the definition of set that is used here in the collocation set against. The collocation is not referring to a locale.The word against is important. The one thing is placed in an arrangement where the "backdrop" acts as a foil, so to speak.

The underlying idea is juxtaposition or contextualization.

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