15
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I'm a word - a simple word - you've heard me oft before
I am when you place the plates or box upon the floor
I'm involved in arson's work and clockmakers' final task
I am when authors create a world where players bask
I help the surgeon to fix bones and lyricists compose
I am when soldiers sharpen blades to fell their fearsome foes
I am when you start a journey and when the glue has dried
I am all a group or any group with single source implied
I am up and down and in and out and off and on again
I am key to all the phrases that I do begin
I can fill so many holes; so well am I fitted
What am I, my little self, unnoticed not omitted?

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12
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The word

set

fits here.

Set things down (plates or boxes, sure)
Set a fire, set a clock to the correct time
The author's world is the book's setting, or the book is set in the world
After you break bone, the doctors set it, and a lyrics are set to music
Not sure about the sharpening
You set off, glue sets
Mathematical set theory
You can set up, set down, set in, set out, set off and set on

The other lines are not specific clues.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ set the clock! :) $\endgroup$ – JLee Jun 3 '15 at 16:32
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Indeed! I didn't expect a long solve time but I wanted an excuse to share the fact that the word "set" has more definitions than any other English word. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Jun 3 '15 at 16:37
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This answer was already given, but I wanted to elaborate some more on how clues can fit.

Set

I'm a word - a simple word - you've heard me oft before

Set is the 295th most common English word

I am when you place the plates or box upon the floor

Set the table, set down

I'm involved in arson's work and clockmakers' final task

Set a fire and set the time when a clock is done

I am when authors create a world where players bask

Set the scene

I help the surgeon to fix bones and lyricists compose

Setting bones is important in making sure they heal correctly
Music can be performed in set, and you can set tempo when writing

I am when soldiers sharpen blades to fell their fearsome foes

Set the edge of a blade

I am when you start a journey and when the glue has dried

Set out, set up

I am all a group or any group with single source implied

Set(Mathematics)

I am up and down and in and out and off and on again

Up, down, in, out, off, and on can all be preceded with set to make valid phrases.

I am key to all the phrases that I do begin

All the answers above that start with set are defined by how the thing is set.

I can fill so many holes; so well am I fitted

The word set is able to be a noun, a verb, and an adjective; it works well in most sentences

What am I, my little self, unnoticed not omittied?

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ +1 for clarity. My original thoughts had lyricists setting words to music as opposed to the musician composing the tune. Regarding groups, I was thinking more simply of things like a chess set or the complete set of an author's works. Mathematical set is a solution I had not considered. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Jun 3 '15 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ I had figured that "I am key to all the phrases that I do begin" was referring to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set_phrase . $\endgroup$ – Simon Jun 3 '15 at 17:39

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