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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
beset
verb
COLLOCATIONS FROM OTHER ENTRIES
a besetting sinliterary (= one that you keep committing)
▪ Drunkenness was his besetting sin.
COLLOCATIONS FROM CORPUS
■ NOUN
difficulty
▪ But difficulties began to beset him.
problem
▪ During the 1980s problems beset Orkney's Social Work Department.
▪ But the many other problems that beset Florida on Election Day are far more deserving of a congressional investigation.
▪ The problems that beset Ptolemaic astronomy were pressing ones in the light of the need for calendar reform at the time of Copernicus.
▪ Profiteering price-hikes, and worsening inequalities between different social groups were the problems which beset Deng's reform programme.
EXAMPLES FROM CORPUS
▪ Behind it lay a tumultuous precedent-one of the most disastrous incidents to beset the face of the earth.
▪ Brookner probes with scrupulous attention, keen irony and a profound appreciation of the endless ambivalences that beset human relationships.
▪ But this sector has been beset by problems, and the evidence suggests that they have yet to be properly ironed out.
▪ Each one, depending on his circumstances at the moment, feels and names the fears that beset him.
▪ International matches in the more traditional cricket centres of Colombo and Kandy are beset by interruptions.
▪ Quite apart from the class conflict endemic in capitalism, the economic system itself is beset with instabilities.
▪ The case has been beset by the kinds of official miscues typical in rape cases here.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Beset

Beset \Be*set"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Beset; p. pr. & vb. n. Besetting.] [AS. besettan (akin to OHG. bisazjan, G. besetzen, D. bezetten); pref. be- + settan to set. See Set.]

  1. To set or stud (anything) with ornaments or prominent objects.

    A robe of azure beset with drops of gold.
    --Spectator.

    The garden is so beset with all manner of sweet shrubs that it perfumes the air.
    --Evelyn.

  2. To hem in; to waylay; to surround; to besiege; to blockade. ``Beset with foes.''
    --Milton.

    Let thy troops beset our gates.
    --Addison.

  3. To set upon on all sides; to perplex; to harass; -- said of dangers, obstacles, etc. ``Adam, sore beset, replied.''
    --Milton. ``Beset with ills.''
    --Addison. ``Incommodities which beset old age.''
    --Burke.

  4. To occupy; to employ; to use up. [Obs.]
    --Chaucer.

    Syn: To surround; inclose; environ; hem in; besiege; encircle; encompass; embarrass; urge; press.

Beset

Beset \Be*set"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Beset; p. pr. & vb. n. Besetting.] [AS. besettan (akin to OHG. bisazjan, G. besetzen, D. bezetten); pref. be- + settan to set. See Set.]

  1. To set or stud (anything) with ornaments or prominent objects.

    A robe of azure beset with drops of gold.
    --Spectator.

    The garden is so beset with all manner of sweet shrubs that it perfumes the air.
    --Evelyn.

  2. To hem in; to waylay; to surround; to besiege; to blockade. ``Beset with foes.''
    --Milton.

    Let thy troops beset our gates.
    --Addison.

  3. To set upon on all sides; to perplex; to harass; -- said of dangers, obstacles, etc. ``Adam, sore beset, replied.''
    --Milton. ``Beset with ills.''
    --Addison. ``Incommodities which beset old age.''
    --Burke.

  4. To occupy; to employ; to use up. [Obs.]
    --Chaucer.

    Syn: To surround; inclose; environ; hem in; besiege; encircle; encompass; embarrass; urge; press.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
beset

Old English besettan "to put, place; own, keep; occupy, settle; cover, surround with, besiege," from Proto-Germanic *bisatjan (cognates: Old Saxon bisettjan, Dutch bezetten, Old High German bisezzan, German besetzen, Gothic bisatjan); see be- + set (v.). The figurative sense also was in Old English. Related: Beset (past tense); besetting.

Wiktionary
beset

vb. 1 (label en transitive) To surround or hem in 2 (label en transitive) To attack, especially from all sides 3 (label en transitive) To decorate something with jewels etc 4 (label en nautical) Of a ship, to get trapped by ice

WordNet
beset
  1. v. annoy continually or chronically; "He is known to harry his staff when he is overworked"; "This man harasses his female co-workers" [syn: harass, hassle, harry, chivy, chivvy, chevy, chevvy, plague, molest, provoke]

  2. assail or attack on all sides: "The zebra was beset by leopards" [syn: set upon]

  3. decorate or cover lavishly with gems [syn: encrust, incrust]

  4. [also: besetting]

Usage examples of "beset".

A certain positive terror grew on me as we advanced to this actual site of the elder world behind the legends--a terror, of course, abetted by the fact that my disturbing dreams and pseudo-memories still beset me with unabated force.

I had gone forth to visit Dame Clatworthy, who hath the tertian ague, and they did beset me on my return.

Its leadership was inexperienced, and its ideology was too vague to have any immediate relevance to the deep-seated problems besetting Iraq in the early 1960s.

The first salutary measure necessary to combat the evils besetting the city was to wipe out at once the inmates of all the prisons in Nantes.

Duchess Susan, of whom it might be said that her character was good, yet all the more alive to the temptations besetting the Spring season.

Chloe had left him, and he related how, summoned home to England and compelled to settle a dispute threatening a lawsuit, he had regretfully to abstain from visiting the Wells for a season, not because of any fear of the attractions of play-- he had subdued the frailty of the desire to play--but because he deemed it due to his Chloe to bring her an untroubled face, and he wished first to be the better of the serious annoyances besetting him.

But having started himself precipitately, he took rank among independent incomes, as they are called, only to take fright at the perils of starvation besetting one who has been tempted to abandon the source of fifty per cent.

The unspeakable folly of the English bishops in denouncing and silencing the most effective preachers in the national church had betrayed Whitefield into his most easily besetting sin, that of censorious judgment, and his sweeping counter-denunciations of the Episcopalian clergy in general as unconverted closed to him many hearts and pulpits that at first had been hospitably open to him.

Canowe, whilst himselfe by fowling sought them victuall, who finding he was beset with 200 Salvages, two of them hee slew, still defending himself with the ayd of a Salvage his guide, whom he bound to his arme with his garters, and used him as a buckler, yet he was shot in his thigh a little, and had many arrowes stucke in his cloathes but no great hurt, till at last they tooke him prisoner.

Ah, Rouletabille cursed his curiosity, for - he saw it now - it was the desire to approach the mystery revealed by Koupriane and to penetrate once more, through all the besetting dangers, an astounding and perhaps monstrous enigma, that had brought him to the threshold of the datcha des Iles, which had placed him in the trembling hands of Matrena Petrovna in promising her his help.

Have faith in the Light, for the dawn came again, even at Dier Kenton Vale and the maelstrom that beset the war fleet at Werepoint.

He beset Lady Hilden with the most earnest prayers, and protestations, and entreaties, reminding her that he loved and wooed her before the dawn of her prosperity, and appealed to her for the disinterestedness of his passion.

After our run-in with the respected Hoja Effendi and after walking from Konya to Sivas in three nights, through eight villages, begging all the way, one night we were beset by such cold and snow that we two dervishes, hugging each other tightly, fell asleep and froze to death.

He was greatly beloved by the humbler classes, who, days before his death, beset the chateau, praising and lamenting him.

On the terrace of the Dome, beset behind the clattering bastion of her own Sainte Chapelle, the young George Washington read with silently moving lips, broke wind pensively and looked around to see if she had attracted notice.