\ ˈstēm How to pronounce steam (audio) \

Definition of steam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a vapor arising from a heated substance
2a : 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
3a : 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
b : travel by or a trip in a steamer


steamed; steaming; steams

Definition of steam (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give out as fumes : exhale
2 : to apply steam to especially : to expose to the action of steam (as for softening or cooking)

intransitive verb

1 : to rise or pass off as vapor
2 : to give off steam or vapor
3a : to move or travel by the agency of steam
b : to move or proceed with energy or force
4 : to be angry : boil steaming over the insult

Synonyms for steam

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of steam in a Sentence

Noun Careful, the steam from the pot is hot. The boat runs on steam. He wiped the steam from the mirrors. He was afraid he would run out of steam before the end of the race. I was making good progress this morning, but now I'm starting to run out of steam. Verb a steaming bowl of soup She prefers to steam carrots rather than boil them. Their breath steamed the windows. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Previously, his undoing had been a reliance on a small core of players that occasionally ran out of steam. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, 19 May 2022 No music played; the only soundtrack was the shouts of workers hurrying between the kitchen, which exhaled clouds of steam into the dining area, and the front, where the food was served. New York Times, 2 May 2022 Lightweight and user-friendly, the tiny iron promises 5.5 minutes of steam with a full water tank. Janine Henni,, 15 Apr. 2022 However, Ratiu said the growth trajectory moderated, as new inventory and rising mortgage rates are taking some of the steam out of price pressures. Brenda Richardson, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 Embellishing that small area has been a trend that's getting a lot of steam among celebrities such as Zendaya and Kylie Jenner. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 5 Apr. 2022 One military expert believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is running out of steam in his war against Ukraine and said Russian forces are quickly losing morale. Adam Sabes, Fox News, 30 Mar. 2022 The Hawks, who were on the second night of a back-to-back, appeared to run out of steam after the first quarter. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, 24 Mar. 2022 But the Trojans lost a lot of steam over the past two weeks, dropping three of their last four games. Los Angeles Times, 15 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There’s also a juice bar and steam shower, as well as a conservatory with a retractable roof that houses the indoor chemical-free pool. Emma Reynolds, Robb Report, 20 Apr. 2022 The Nevada Northern features a 56-acre rail yard and steam train excursions on more than 30 miles of track in and around Ely. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 Douglas designed the house as a hotel for mining officials and investors as well as for his own family and included a wine cellar, billiard room, marble shower, steam heat and, a novelty at the time, a central vacuum system. Susan Glaser, cleveland, 8 Apr. 2022 Most applications call for a bit of moisture to essentially steam the fish, which Johnson said moist paper towels would reasonably imitate. Chris Bieri, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Apr. 2022 Water constantly circulated through the reactor vessel and nuclear fuel, converting it to steam to spin the turbine. Jennifer Mcdermott, ajc, 9 Apr. 2022 Water constantly circulated through the reactor vessel and nuclear fuel, converting it to steam to spin the turbine. Jennifer Mcdermott,, 9 Apr. 2022 Those with kids, who travel a lot for business, or just who need to steam clothes at home will benefit from this. Chris Hachey, BGR, 1 Mar. 2022 But unlike similarly sized Breville models, the Barista Touch really does boast all the ease of the Bambino, with the same foolproof milk frother and quick heating transition from espresso to steam wand. Lauren Joseph, Bon Appétit, 24 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'steam.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of steam


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for steam


Middle English stem, from Old English stēam; akin to Dutch stoom steam

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Time Traveler for steam

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The first known use of steam was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near steam



steam bath

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Statistics for steam

Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Steam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for steam


\ ˈstēm How to pronounce steam (audio) \

Kids Definition of steam

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the vapor into which water is changed when heated to the boiling point
2 : steam or the heat or power produced by it when kept under pressure Some houses are heated by steam.
3 : the mist formed when water vapor cools
4 : driving force : power By the end of the day, I had run out of steam.


steamed; steaming

Kids Definition of steam (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to give off steam or vapor The cocoa steamed fragrantly in the saucepan …— Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
2 : to rise or pass off as steam Heat steamed from the pipes.
3 : to move or travel by or as if by the power of steam The ship steamed out of the harbor. She steamed past the fancy brick entrance to the golf course …— Carl Hiaasen, Hoot
4 : to expose to steam (as for cooking)

More from Merriam-Webster on steam

Nglish: Translation of steam for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of steam for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about steam


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