noun \ˈstēm\

: the hot gas that is created when water is boiled

: steam that is created by a machine and kept under pressure to provide power

: very small drops of water that form on a surface when warm air that contains a lot of water is cooled down

Full Definition of STEAM

:  a vapor arising from a heated substance
a :  the invisible vapor into which water is converted when heated to the boiling point
b :  the mist formed by the condensation on cooling of water vapor
a :  water vapor kept under pressure so as to supply energy for heating, cooking, or mechanical work; also :  the power so generated
b :  active force :  power, momentum <got there under his own steam> <sales began to pick up steam>; also :  normal force <at full steam>
c :  pent-up emotional tension <needed to let off a little steam>
a :  steamer 2a
b :  travel by or a trip in a steamer

Examples of STEAM

  1. Careful, the steam from the pot is hot.
  2. The boat runs on steam.
  3. He wiped the steam from the mirrors.
  4. He was afraid he would run out of steam before the end of the race.
  5. I was making good progress this morning, but now I'm starting to run out of steam.

Origin of STEAM

Middle English stem, from Old English stēam; akin to Dutch stoom steam
First Known Use: before 12th century



: to produce steam

: to cook, heat, or treat (something) with steam

: to cause (something, such as a piece of glass) to become covered with small drops of water

Full Definition of STEAM

transitive verb
:  to give out as fumes :  exhale
:  to apply steam to; especially :  to expose to the action of steam (as for softening or cooking)
intransitive verb
:  to rise or pass off as vapor
:  to give off steam or vapor
a :  to move or travel by the agency of steam
b :  to move or proceed with energy or force
:  to be angry :  boil <steaming over the insult>

Examples of STEAM

  1. a steaming bowl of soup
  2. She prefers to steam carrots rather than boil them.
  3. Their breath steamed the windows.

First Known Use of STEAM

15th century


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Invisible gas consisting of vaporized water. When mixed with minute droplets of water, it has a white, cloudy appearance. In nature, steam is produced by the heating of underground water by volcanic processes and is emitted from hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, and some volcanoes. Steam also can be generated on a large scale by technological systems, such as those using fossil-fuel-burning boilers and nuclear reactors. Modern industrial society relies on steam power; water is heated to steam in power plants, and the pressurized steam drives turbines that produce electric current: thermal energy is converted to mechanical energy, which is converted into electricity.


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