set in motion: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘set in motion’ mean?

The idiom "set in motion" means to initiate or start something, typically referring to a process or action. It implies initiating movement or progress towards a goal.

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The idiom "set in motion" refers to initiating or starting a process or action. It is used to describe the act of activating or setting things in movement, whether it is a physical object or an abstract concept.

This idiom is derived from the verb "set," which means to put or place something in a particular position or state. The word "motion" refers to the act or process of moving or being moved. When combined, the idiom signifies the act of putting something into motion or setting it into action.

The exact origin of the idiom "set in motion" is uncertain, but it can be traced back to the 16th century when the word "set" was commonly used in the sense of initiating or causing something.

One interpretation suggests that the idiom has its roots in the mechanical world, where machines or mechanisms are set in motion to perform a particular task. This notion of activating or initiating movement may have then been metaphorically applied to various aspects of life, such as business, politics, or personal endeavors.

Another possible origin of the idiom relates to the concept of inertia. In physics, an object at rest tends to stay at rest until an external force is applied to it. Similarly, the idiom "set in motion" can imply overcoming inertia or resistance to initiate action or change.

The idiom "set in motion" is used in both formal and informal contexts. It can be found in literature, speeches, everyday conversations, and various written media. Its versatility allows it to be applied to a wide range of situations, emphasizing the act of starting or initiating a process.

Events set in motion activate an unstoppable force.

When used metaphorically, "set in motion" can imply the beginning of a sequence of events or the activation of a plan or idea. It often carries connotations of action, progress, and momentum, highlighting the importance of taking the first step to achieve a desired outcome.

The idioms "get moving," "get the ball rolling," "kick in," "set off," and "take the initiative" are related to the concept of setting things in motion.

When someone is told to "get moving," it means they should start taking action or initiate a process. It is a direct instruction to begin and not waste any more time.

The idiom "get the ball rolling" suggests starting a process or activity, often with the intention of creating momentum or progress. It signifies taking the first step and setting things in motion towards a specific goal or outcome.

On the other hand, "kick in" refers to the act of initiating or starting something, especially in the context of a reaction or effect. It implies the beginning of a process or action that has been triggered or set in motion.

The idiom "set off" means to start or begin something, often referring to an event or a series of actions. It implies the initiation of a process that leads to further developments or consequences.

Lastly, "take the initiative" is an idiomatic expression that means to be proactive or assertive in starting or initiating something. It conveys the idea of seizing opportunities and being the driving force behind setting things in motion.

The idiom "set in motion" conveys the idea of initiating or activating something, whether it is a physical object or an abstract concept. Its origins are uncertain, but it can be traced back to the 16th century and likely originated from the notions of mechanical movement and overcoming inertia. This idiom finds wide usage in various contexts, emphasizing the importance of starting or initiating actions to achieve desired results. It encapsulates the idea of taking the first step and setting things in motion, highlighting the possibilities and potential that lie ahead.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom *set in motion* can be used in a sentence:

  1. I decided to set in motion my plan to start a new business.
  2. After years of research, the scientist finally set in motion a groundbreaking experiment.
  3. The teacher's inspiring words set in motion a series of events that led to the students achieving their goals.

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