as a dog does when setting

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Senior Member

The verb "set" has so many definitions that I'm completely at a loss which one fits here:

“19 August.--Strange and sudden change in Renfield last night. About eight o'clock he began to get excited and sniff about as a dog does when setting.”

Excerpt From: Stoker, Bram. “Dracula.”

It's an excerpt from a diary of a doctor. Renfield is his patient. My guess is that setting might mean loading table with food or maybe setting=settling (choosing the place to sit down?). I really don't know.
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I'm a long-time aficionado of hunting dogs, but although I aware of of Irish setters, English setters, Gordon setters, etc., I'm not sure what it means "to set" from the dog's perspective. It might come from the pre-firearm past when hunters used nets to capture game and the pointing dog was expected to lie down to indicate the presence of birds.

    More importantly, I don't know what it means in this context, and as with all relatively arcane pursuits, we don't know whether the author does, either. I would never confuse the term with a table setting.

    Be that as it may, a hunting dog (or probably any dog not consigned to someone's lap) becomes excited and sniffs about when smelling something of interest, particularly prey or food.

    That's rather bizarre for a human, of course.

    Or, I might be barking up the wrong tree ... :rolleyes:

    Edit: Now that I've gone to all of this effort, I see the definition to which srk refers. I'm not sure that "turn" is appropriate, but you get the idea.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    The point here (pun intended) is that if "setting" is the act of freezing upon finding game (which we call "pointing" in today's world) the dog cannot he sniffing about at the same time)

    ... but I suppose the author might claim some artistic license.

    As always, general-use dictionaries are the least reliable when dealing with relatively arcane pursuits.
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