half step


: a walking step of 15 inches or in double time of 18 inches
: a musical interval (such as E-F or B-C) equivalent to ¹/₁₂ of an octave

called also semitone

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Wilson takes a half step forward. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Apr. 2021 LaCorte lowered the key a half step, beefed up the basic foundation with a few extra tracks and recast the bridge, making that the part where the song’s intensity drops. Tom Roland, Billboard, 8 Feb. 2023 This means the new New York law might be only a half step toward righting one of the wrongs the Nazis committed 80 years ago. Joel Mathis, The Week, 23 Aug. 2022 Texas has taken a half step, extending postpartum coverage for six months after birth instead of a year. New York Times, 18 Aug. 2022 Woods nearly collapsed into the sand, but quickly used a golf club and a half step with his left leg to remain upright. Bill Pennington, New York Times, 21 May 2022 Then, with about 130 meters to go, Britain’s Laura Muir also caught her on the outside, then pulled ahead by a half step. Richard A. Lovett, Outside Online, 18 Aug. 2021 The Count’s first Contessa, perdono concludes by relaxing a half step downward from the tonic, G, to F-sharp. Matthew Aucoin, The Atlantic, 23 Nov. 2021 The lowly Diamondbacks pulled ahead in the fifth, San Francisco kept stranding runners and the Dodgers, a half step behind the Giants in the division, were wrapping up a win. Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 July 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'half step.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1904, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of half step was in 1904

Dictionary Entries Near half step

Cite this Entry

“Half step.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/half%20step. Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition

half step

: the pitch interval between any two adjacent tones on a keyboard instrument

called also semitone

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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