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to make a dead set
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Set \Set\, n. 1. The act of setting, as of the sun or other heavenly body; descent; hence, the close; termination. "Locking at the set of day." --Tennyson. [1913 Webster] The weary sun hath made a golden set. --Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. That which is set, placed, or fixed. Specifically: (a) A young plant for growth; as, a set of white thorn. (b) That which is staked; a wager; a venture; a stake; hence, a game at venture. [Obs. or R.] [1913 Webster] We will in France, by God's grace, play a set Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard. --Shak. [1913 Webster] That was but civil war, an equal set. --Dryden. [1913 Webster] (c) (Mech.) Permanent change of figure in consequence of excessive strain, as from compression, tension, bending, twisting, etc.; as, the set of a spring. [1913 Webster] (d) A kind of punch used for bending, indenting, or giving shape to, metal; as, a saw set. [1913 Webster] (e) (Pile Driving) A piece placed temporarily upon the head of a pile when the latter cannot be reached by the weight, or hammer, except by means of such an intervening piece. [Often incorrectly written sett.] [1913 Webster] (f) (Carp.) A short steel spike used for driving the head of a nail below the surface. Called also nail set. [1913 Webster +PJC] 3. [Perhaps due to confusion with sect, sept.] A number of things of the same kind, ordinarily used or classed together; a collection of articles which naturally complement each other, and usually go together; an assortment; a suit; as, a set of chairs, of china, of surgical or mathematical instruments, of books, etc. [In this sense, sometimes incorrectly written sett.] [1913 Webster] 4. A number of persons associated by custom, office, common opinion, quality, or the like; a division; a group; a clique. "Others of our set." --Tennyson. [1913 Webster] This falls into different divisions, or sets, of nations connected under particular religions. --R. P. Ward. [1913 Webster] 5. Direction or course; as, the set of the wind, or of a current. [1913 Webster] 6. In dancing, the number of persons necessary to execute a quadrille; also, the series of figures or movements executed. [1913 Webster] 7. The deflection of a tooth, or of the teeth, of a saw, which causes the the saw to cut a kerf, or make an opening, wider than the blade. [1913 Webster] 8. (a) A young oyster when first attached. (b) Collectively, the crop of young oysters in any locality. [1913 Webster] 9. (Tennis) A series of as many games as may be necessary to enable one side to win six. If at the end of the tenth game the score is a tie, the set is usually called a deuce set, and decided by an application of the rules for playing off deuce in a game. See Deuce. [1913 Webster] 10. (Type Founding) That dimension of the body of a type called by printers the width. [1913 Webster] 11. (Textiles) Any of various standards of measurement of the fineness of cloth; specif., the number of reeds in one inch and the number of threads in each reed. The exact meaning varies according to the location where it is used. Sometimes written sett. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 12. A stone, commonly of granite, shaped like a short brick and usually somewhat larger than one, used for street paving. Commonly written sett. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 13. Camber of a curved roofing tile. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 14. The manner, state, or quality of setting or fitting; fit; as, the set of a coat. [Colloq.] [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 15. Any collection or group of objects considered together. [PJC] Dead set. (a) The act of a setter dog when it discovers the game, and remains intently fixed in pointing it out. (b) A fixed or stationary condition arising from obstacle or hindrance; a deadlock; as, to be at a dead set. (c) A concerted scheme to defraud by gaming; a determined onset. To make a dead set, to make a determined onset, literally or figuratively. [1913 Webster] Syn: Collection; series; group. See Pair. [1913 Webster]