What Does “All Set” Mean, Anyhow?

There are very few phrases in the English language that I despise more than “all set”.  And there are very few phrases that I have found support geeks to use more than “all set”.  What bugs me the most about it is that it’s just about impossible to know what “all set” means–even from context!  For example:

  • You’re eating at a restaurant.  A server comes by & asks how it’s going.  You say, “All set!”  Which does this mean?
    • You are happy eating your food and don’t need anything else.
    • You are finished with your dish & want the dessert menu.
    • You are finished with your meal & want the check.
  • You are having trouble with a Word document.  You call the Help Desk.  They’re quiet for a moment, and then say, “You’re all set!”  Which does this mean?
    • Your document has been nuked, but your Word isn’t in trouble any more.
    • Your document is fine, you can continue typing.
    • Your document is fine, but you have to close & reopen it before typing.
  • You are managing some geeks and ask about the user with the Word document problems.  The geek says, “She’s all set!”  Which does this mean?
    • There are zero further problems, there was no training issue, and she will start writing love letters to the Help Desk.
    • The user’s immediate problem was fixed, and there is no indication of chronic problems like hers.
    • The user’s problem was fixed, but the larger ongoing Word document issue that you’ve been seeing hasn’t been addressed.
    • The geek did something to help the user that seemed to have worked, but she didn’t truly confirm it.  The hate letters to the Help Desk will be quickly forthcoming.

Perhaps it’s obvious that I’ve lived through the last situation more than once…

That phrase drives me nuts due to its non-specificity.  Can anyone convince me that there is ever ANY reason to tell me something is “all set” rather than just telling me what the heck you did or what the heck is going on?

5 thoughts on “What Does “All Set” Mean, Anyhow?

  1. I’ve always attributed it to the phrase “Ready, Set, Go” (or with track and field’s “on your marks, get SET, go.”

    “All Set” (in my non-scientific, non-researched opinion) was the phrase that comes right before you’re ready to “Go!”

  2. In my world of engineers (more nerd than geek), “all set” has two meanings. On conference calls it is used to indicate that you have nothing more to bring up, discuss or question during the final go around, what else are you going to say as you said good morning during the initial check in? The other indicates that whatever the task or issue is, the task is complete or the issue is resolved.

  3. Jenn – The answer to your question: “Can anyone convince me that there is ever ANY reason to tell me something is “all set” rather than just telling me what the heck you did or what the heck is going on?” is simple. Yes, there is ever a reason to do so. When you’re playing football and the offensive line is “Set” meaning that no one on the line in the “set” position can move before the ball is snapped. Then it is perfectly acceptable to use that phrase. Or how about another example – you’re making jell-o salad and need to know if the bowl of jell-o in the fridge is ready to cut and you ask if it is “all set”.

    But to get to your point as it relates to the real world of working with technology, now that I’ve read you post I feel compelled to strike the phrase from my vocabulary.

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