\ 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 The pie is too spectacular to let steam for long in a box. Los Angeles Times, 12 Aug. 2022 Use the steam cleaner to get grime and germs off of bathroom tiles, shower doors, kitchen surfaces, and even upholstery and bedding. Annie Burdick, Peoplemag, 11 Aug. 2022 The steam that gently radiated off the plates invited us to tuck in. Angela Hui,, 10 Aug. 2022 Space from former cabins was converted into an onboard massage suite, cinema and wellness area with a sauna and steam room. Terry Ward, CNN, 10 Aug. 2022 Since August began, the Washington region has felt like a steam bath, culminating in Tuesday’s oppressive high of 97 degrees. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2022 Its hold has been loosening as streaming gains steam and traditional broadcast and cable TV lose viewers. Will Feuer, WSJ, 9 Aug. 2022 As the broader maker movement picks up steam and everyday people learn how to create things of their own, the Maker Faire, which returns Nov. 5-6, gives people of all ages and backgrounds a place to celebrate the art of building and making. Patrick Connolly, Orlando Sentinel, 8 Aug. 2022 The National Nuclear Security Administration is scaling up tritium output at Watts Bar and other civilian nuclear plants, but such production was delayed this year by the steam generator replacement project at Watts Bar. Tribune News Service, al, 6 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Still, outside organizations continue to steam ahead, building a greater consensus between the broader community and schools to bolster student well-being and self-esteem. Rod Berger, Forbes, 11 July 2022 Pour 1/4 cup water, beer or broth around ribs. Seal tightly with foil so ribs can steam. Rita Nader Heikenfeld, The Enquirer, 18 June 2022 For cleaning hard floors, Shark's Steam Mop uses, well, steam to get rid of stubborn stains. Medea Giordano, Wired, 20 July 2022 All that’s left to do is decide what to steam first. Bon Appétit, 21 Jan. 2022 The Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine is an excellent choice for people who just want to make espresso and don't need to steam milk. Lauren Corona,, 13 Mar. 2021 Elsewhere are seven bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms, including a primary suite with a soaking tub and steam shower. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2022 If poblanos are not tender enough, add a few tablespoons of water and cover pan; let steam a few minutes. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, 5 May 2022 El Taio, for example, is a field of fumaroles that steam onto the dramatic scenery. Johanna Read, Forbes, 21 Apr. 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

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Steam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 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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