As far as I know there are two different meanings of the word "reset":

  • to restore an object/value to a previous/initial state - that's the most widely use of the word; 
  • to set the value/state a second time.

But, is it common to use "reset" with the second meaning? For me it makes more sense to distinguish the two meanings by using "re-set" on the second one. But, does "re-set" even exist?

For example, what would be most acceptable in the following examples?

The thermostat is now set to 20 ºC. You can make it colder or warmer by resetting/re-setting it [to a different value].

"Production stop" works simply by resetting/re-setting the end time [to a different value but not to the default one].

  • I would not use reset in that sentence. I would write: The thermostat is now set to 20 ºC. You can make it colder by setting it to 17 ºC.
    – mikeY
    Jul 11, 2012 at 16:17
  • possible duplicate of When is it necessary to use a hyphen in writing a compound word?
    – Daniel
    Jul 11, 2012 at 16:17
  • @mikeY yes but I would like to stress that I'm setting the value again.
    – djeidot
    Jul 11, 2012 at 16:18
  • 1
    @djeidot Obviously I don't have your full context, but I would think that in at least many situations setting the thermostat to 17 would be considered a new setting not in need of a re in any form. I guess I can see "re-resetting" on the horizon and would worry about trying to capture too much information in a prefix.
    – mikeY
    Jul 11, 2012 at 16:30
  • I added another example and changed the other one a bit to better illustrate what I'm trying to do.
    – djeidot
    Jul 11, 2012 at 16:35

2 Answers 2


I would suggest that you can avoid the confusion by using the word "change" in your first example, and "update" in your second one both of which would convey your meaning while sounding more natural.

  • In most instances where "reset" does not mean "return to default or previous state" It is probably more clear to choose one of the alternatives like "update", "change", or even "set (it) again"
    – TecBrat
    Jul 11, 2012 at 17:37
  • 1
    When "reset" does mean "return to default or previous state", revert sometimes is nicer than reset. Jul 11, 2012 at 18:19
  • That doesn't answer the main question: "Reset" or "re-set"?
    – Gigili
    May 15, 2020 at 10:40

Reset has rather more than two meanings. To try to differentiate between them by using an arbitrary piece of punctuation risks creating confusion rather than clarity. The entries for the word in the OED as both noun and verb have no hyphen.

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