1 of 4


: lofty, high
used chiefly of a sea
: making a large angle with the plane of the horizon
: mounting or falling precipitously
the stairs were very steep
: being or characterized by a rapid and intensive decline or increase
: extremely or excessively high
steep prices
steepish adjective
steeply adverb
steepness noun


2 of 4

noun (1)

: a precipitous place


3 of 4


steeped; steeping; steeps

transitive verb

: to soak in a liquid at a temperature under the boiling point (as for softening, bleaching, or extracting an essence)
: to cover with or plunge into a liquid (as in bathing, rinsing, or soaking)
: to saturate with or subject thoroughly to (some strong or pervading influence)
practices steeped in tradition

intransitive verb

: to undergo the process of soaking in a liquid
steeper noun


4 of 4

noun (2)

: the state or process of being steeped
: a bath or solution in which something is steeped
Choose the Right Synonym for steep


steep, abrupt, precipitous, sheer mean having an incline approaching the perpendicular.

steep implies such sharpness of pitch that ascent or descent is very difficult.

a steep hill
a steep dive

abrupt implies a sharper pitch and a sudden break in the level.

a beach with an abrupt drop-off

precipitous applies to an incline approaching the vertical.

the river winds through a precipitous gorge

sheer suggests an unbroken perpendicular expanse.

sheer cliffs that daunted the climbers


soak, saturate, drench, steep, impregnate mean to permeate or be permeated with a liquid.

soak implies usually prolonged immersion as for softening or cleansing.

soak the garment in soapy water

saturate implies a resulting effect of complete absorption until no more liquid can be held.

a saturated sponge

drench implies a thorough wetting by something that pours down or is poured.

clothes drenched by a cloudburst

steep suggests either the extraction of an essence (as of tea leaves) by the liquid or the imparting of a quality (such as a color) to the thing immersed.

steep the tea for five minutes

impregnate implies a thorough interpenetration of one thing by another.

a cake strongly impregnated with brandy

Examples of steep in a Sentence

Adjective The stairs are very steep. a steep drop in prices The store's prices are too steep for me. Their rates are pretty steep. Verb Steep the tea for three minutes. The tea steeped for five minutes.
Recent Examples on the Web
If convicted of all three counts, Hunter faces years in prison and steep fines, though first-time offenders typically see little to no time in custody. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2024 The trail gets a bit steeper closer to the water and hikers will need to step over bigger rocks, so use caution. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 June 2024
Catching discounts this steep on Nate Berkus’ home collection doesn’t happen all the time, so don’t miss the markdowns at Amazon. Jamie Allison Sanders, Peoplemag, 10 June 2024 Climbing down the final 400 in snowy conditions usually requires ropes, crampons and ice axes because a fall on slippery terrain that steep would be almost impossible to stop. Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2024
The outlet noted Louisville's location on the Ohio River, its modern metropolitan area steeped with tradition, and of course, the Kentucky Derby Festival. Ray Padilla, The Courier-Journal, 4 June 2024 Danny is steeping his hops for a sauce, while Laura infuses hers in cream for a rice pudding; Michelle grinds up hers to crust her flank steak, while Valentine and Samantha decide to smoke their proteins with it. Roxana Hadadi, Vulture, 27 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for steep 

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

Word History



Middle English stepe, from Old English stēap high, steep, deep; akin to Old Frisian stāp steep, Middle High German stief — more at stoop


Middle English stepen

First Known Use


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

Noun (1)

1555, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of steep was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near steep

Cite this Entry

“Steep.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 adjective
: having a very sharp slope : almost straight up-and-down
: being or characterized by a very rapid decline or increase
: too great or high
steep prices
steeply adverb


2 of 3 noun
: a sharply sloping place


3 of 3 verb
: to soak in liquid (as for drawing out a flavor) at a temperature under the boiling point
steep tea
: to undergo the process of soaking in a liquid
: to fill with or involve deeply
steeped in learning

More from Merriam-Webster on steep

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