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[v., adj. pree-set; n. pree-set] /v., adj. priˈsɛt; n. ˈpriˌsɛt/
verb (used with object), preset, presetting.
to set beforehand.
to set (an electric or electronic appliance) to become activated at a designated time:
We preset the coffeemaker to go on at 6 a.m.
to adjust (a connector, switch, or the like) so that when activated it will perform a designated function:
The tuning buttons on the radio are preset to my favorite FM stations.
set in advance:
a preset radio adjusted to receive certain stations.
(of the guidance system of a missile or the course of flight it determines) set before launching to reach a specific destination without any alteration in response to signals from the ground.
a knob or button that activates a preset appliance:
Just push the preset and coffee will be ready when you get up.
a similar device on a radio that can be activated to tune in a preselected station.
Origin of preset
1930-35; pre- + set
Related forms
presettable, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for preset
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I preset two forward radiators for forty kilometers at low condensation, with a three kilometer radius at surface.

    Indirection Everett B. Cole
  • His eye swept his panel, to see if anything had been preset.

    Next Door, Next World Robert Donald Locke
  • Were an apology necessary for the preset work, such statements as these would be amply sufficient.

    The History of Prostitution William W. Sanger
  • The gyros on each projectile had been preset for a circular flight of fifteen minutes' duration.

    Sabotage in Space Carey Rockwell
British Dictionary definitions for preset


verb (transitive) -sets, -setting, -set
to set (a timing device) so that something begins to operate at the time specified
(electronics) a control, such as a variable resistor, that is not as accessible as the main controls and is used to set initial conditions
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for preset

also pre-set, 1934 (adj.); 1946 (v.); from pre- + set (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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