steam·​punk ˈstēm-ˌpəŋk How to pronounce steampunk (audio)
: science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology

Did you know?

I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for [Tim] Powers, [James] Blaylock and myself. So wrote the science-fiction author K. W. Jeter, credited with coining the term steampunk in 1987 to describe a wave of fantasy novels set in Victorian times and celebrating the technology of the era, much of which was powered by steam. In both name and subject, steampunk is an antithesis to cyberpunk, a genre often noted for featuring computerized, futuristic, or unearthly settings. The popularity of steampunk has since carried over to motion pictures, fashion, and even things like restaurant décor.

Examples of steampunk in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Though obviously infused with elements of science fiction and steampunk, Poor Things is set in Victorian London (with excursions to Lisbon, Alexandria, and Paris), and Bella's free spirit defies the strict social expectations of that period. Christian Holub,, 21 Feb. 2024 Leaning slightly into steampunk, the industrial yet futuristic design of the Wonka universe is chock-full of intelligent decor tricks. Abby Wilson, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Dec. 2023 The city is unnamed, and, as for the period, my guess would be late-Victorian steampunk, tricked out with modernist gewgaws. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 1 Dec. 2023 Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and based on Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel, the movie takes place in a steampunk, otherworldly Victorian wonderland, and Bella’s story unfolds like a twisted fairy tale. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 9 Dec. 2023 Admittedly, no real effort is put into explaining how the time machine actually works, other than Gilliam’s signature steampunk wires and bellows. Jennifer Ouellette and Sean M. Carroll, Ars Technica, 24 Nov. 2023 But thankfully, Hyundai has embraced the sedan and delivered an interesting aero steampunk electric four-door that doesn’t resemble anything else on the road. Rob Verger, Popular Science, 9 Aug. 2023 Paired with the sci-fi goggles and the graphic corset, the whole look is vaguely steampunk meets Spy Kids meets Blade Runner at a Versace show. Lauren Puckett-Pope, ELLE, 22 June 2023 Bristol scientists made a funnier one for £7.66 MIT makes little tiny steampunk transformer A steampunk ant, and some interesting discussions on tracing photos for art. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 8 Dec. 2012

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

Word History


steam entry 1 + cyberpunk

First Known Use

1987, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of steampunk was in 1987


Dictionary Entries Near steampunk

Cite this Entry

“Steampunk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!