What does the idiom "set in one's ways" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does set in one's ways mean? In what situations is set in one's ways used?

Meaning of "set in one's ways"


The idiom "set in one's ways" is used to describe a person that is not easily persuaded to do something differently or accept a new idea. This idiom is often used to describe an older person that is resistant to change due to having a long established set of beliefs and habits.


The phrase “set in one's ways” emerged during the 16th century in England. The expression was derived from the notion that certain activities would be conducted in a particular way and would not be easily altered. This phrase was then adopted to describe those individuals that subscribed to that same mindset.


The phrase “set in one's ways” is most commonly used to describe an elderly person because it is generally assumed that as someone ages, they become less likely to accept new ideas or experiences. It is also often implied that someone who is “set in their ways” may be stubborn in their reflection and expression of their beliefs. This phrase can also be used to describe someone regardless of their age, as it does not necessarily denote age but more of a mindset.

Example Sentences

  • My grandmother is so set in her ways; every time I suggest a new idea or hobby, she just shoots it down.
  • She's been like this for so long, she's really set in her ways.
  • My boss is so set in his ways; he won't even consider any ideas that aren't his own.

The meanings of the words in the "set in one's ways" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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