Legal Dictionary


Definition of settle


    From Old English setl, from Germanic *setla-, representing Proto-Indo-European *sed-lo-, from *sed- ("sit"). Cognate with German Sessel, Dutch zetel; and with Greek ἑλλά, Latin sedo, Russian седло. The verb (Old English setlan) developed from the noun.


  • IPA: /ˈsɛtəl/, sĕtʹəl, /"sEt@l/
  • Audio (US) [?]
  • Rhymes: -ɛtəl


settle (plural settles)

  1. (archaic) A seat of any kind.
  2. A long bench, often with a high back and arms, with storage space underneath for linen.
  3. (obsolete) A place made lower than the rest; a wide step or platform lower than some other part.

    And from the bottom upon the ground, even to the lower settle, shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit. --Ezek. xliii.


to settle (third-person singular simple present settles, present participle settling, simple past and past participle settled)

  1. (transitive) To place in a fixed or permanent condition; to make firm, steady, or stable; to establish; to fix; esp., to establish in life; to fix in business, in a home, or the like.

    And he settled his countenance steadfastly upon him,until he was ashamed. --2 Kings VIII. 11. (Rev. Ver.)

    * 1700, Ovid, Metamorphoses, translation of original by John Dryden:
    The father thought the time drew on Of settling in the world his only son.

  2. (transitive, obsolete, US) To establish in the pastoral office; to ordain or install as pastor or rector of a church, society, or parish; as, to settle a minister.
  3. (transitive) To cause to be no longer in a disturbed condition; to render quiet; to still; to calm; to compose.

    * God settled then the huge whale-bearing lake. --George Chapman.
    * Hoping that sleep might settle his brains. -- John Bunyan.

  4. (transitive) To clear of dregs and impurities by causing them to sink; to render pure or clear; -- said of a liquid; as, to settle coffee, or the grounds of coffee.
  5. (transitive) To restore or bring to a smooth, dry, or passable condition; -- said of the ground, of roads, and the like;as, clear weather settles the roads.
  6. (transitive) To cause to sink; to lower; to depress; hence, also, to render close or compact; as, to settle the contents of a barrel or bag by shaking it.
  7. (transitive) To determine, as something which is exposed to doubt or question; to free from uncertainty or wavering; to make sure, firm, or constant; to establish; to compose; to quiet; as, to settle the mind when agitated; to settle questions of law; to settle the succession to a throne; to settle an allowance.

    It will settle the wavering, and confirm the doubtful. --Jonathan Swift.

  8. (transitive) To adjust, as something in discussion; to make up; to compose; to pacify; as, to settle a quarrel.
  9. (transitive, archaic) To adjust, as accounts; to liquidate; to balance; as, to settle an account.
  10. (transitive, colloquial) To pay; as, to settle a bill. --Abbott.
  11. (transitive) To plant with inhabitants; to colonize; to people; as, the French first settled Canada; the Puritans settled New England; Plymouth was settled in 1620.
  12. (intransitive) To become fixed or permanent; to become stationary; to establish one's self or itself; to assume a lasting form, condition, direction, or the like, in place of a temporary or changing state.

    * The wind came about and settled in the west. --Bacon.
    * Chyle . . . runs through all the intermediate colors until it settles in an intense red. --John Arbuthnot.

  13. (intransitive) To fix one's residence; to establish a dwelling place or home; as, the Saxons who settled in Britain.
  14. (intransitive) To enter into the married state, or the state of a householder.

    * As people marry now and settle. --Matthew Prior.

  15. (intransitive) To be established in an employment or profession; as, to settle in the practice of law.
  16. (intransitive) To become firm, dry, and hard, as the ground after the effects of rain or frost have disappeared; as, the roads settled late in the spring.
  17. (intransitive) To become clear after being turbid or obscure; to clarify by depositing matter held in suspension; as, the weather settled; wine settles by standing.

    * A government, on such occasions, is always thick before it settles. --Joseph Addison.

  18. (intransitive) To sink to the bottom; to fall to the bottom, as dregs of a liquid, or the sediment of a reservoir.
  19. (intransitive) To sink gradually to a lower level; to subside, as the foundation of a house, etc.
  20. (intransitive) To become calm; to cease from agitation.

    * Till the fury of his highness settle, Come not before him. --Shakespeare

  21. (intransitive) To adjust differences or accounts; to come to an agreement; as, he has settled with his creditors.
  22. (intransitive, obsolete) To make a jointure for a wife.

    He sighs with most success that settles well. -- Samuel Garth.


  • adjust
  • arrange
  • compose
  • decide
  • determine
  • establish
  • fix
  • regulate


  • disturb
  • agitate
  • wander

Derived terms

  • settle bed ((British) a bed convertible into a seat)
  • settle on or upon (archaic) to confer upon by permanent grant; to assure to. I . . . have settled upon him a good annuity. --Joseph Addison.
  • settle the land (obsolete) (nautical) to cause it to sink, or appear lower, by receding from it.
  • settle upon
  • settle for
  • settle on
  • settle in
  • settle down

Related terms

  • settlement
  • settler


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex situs
2.     AORO
3.     lex causae
4.     scienter
5.     adjudication order
6.     lex loci celebrationis
7.     Miranda warning
8.     quorum
9.     lex patriae
10.     appellant