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

Examples of half step in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Kentucky Derby second-place finisher Sierra Leone, a half step from winning, is expected to headline that field. CBS News, 18 May 2024 When singers can no longer bound across the stage, stay on pitch or hit notes that once came easily (even after bringing the keys of a song down a half step or more)? George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Dec. 2023 The second and seventh degrees are lowered a half step, meaning that the scale assumes the contour of the Phrygian mode, which medieval theorists considered mystical in character. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 What was a staircase of broad, even planks—step, step, half step, step, step, step, half step—becomes an irregular, treacherous structure: down a half step, then a minor third, then two more half steps, then another minor third, and finally a half step and a step. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 This scenario is only a half step away from our current reality. Kelly Pendergrast, WIRED, 14 July 2023 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

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

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of half step was in 1598

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 14 Jul. 2024.

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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