1 of 4

noun (1)

: a male bovine animal and especially a domestic ox (Bos taurus) castrated before sexual maturity compare stag sense 3
: an ox less than four years old


2 of 4


steered; steering; steers

transitive verb

: to control the course of : direct
especially : to guide by mechanical means (such as a rudder)
: to set and hold to (a course)

intransitive verb

: to direct the course (as of a ship or automobile)
: to pursue a course of action
: to be subject to steering
the car steers well
steerable adjective
steerer noun


3 of 4

noun (2)

: a hint as to procedure : tip


4 of 4

dialectal British variant of stir

steer clear
: to keep entirely away
often used with of
tries to steer clear of debt
Choose the Right Synonym for steer

guide, lead, steer, pilot, engineer mean to direct in a course or show the way to be followed.

guide implies intimate knowledge of the way and of all its difficulties and dangers.

guided the scouts through the cave

lead implies showing the way and often keeping those that follow under control and in order.

led his team to victory

steer implies an ability to keep to a course and stresses the capacity of maneuvering correctly.

steered the ship through a narrow channel

pilot suggests guidance over a dangerous or complicated course.

piloted the bill through the Senate

engineer implies finding ways to avoid or overcome difficulties in achieving an end or carrying out a plan.

engineered his son's election to the governorship

Examples of steer in a Sentence

Verb She steered the ship through the strait. He steered his car carefully into the parking space. He steered the wheelchair through the aisles. Skillful navigators can steer by the positions of the stars. The car was steering right at us. The boat steered out to sea. He tried to steer the conversation away from his recent problems. She skillfully steered the bill through the legislature. He steered the team to another championship last year. The high recent returns on stocks have steered many investors away from bonds. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
How did a massive steer wind up inside a Crown Vic? María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 For Alabama sports fans who don’t follow rodeo, that’s steer wrestling -- not rasslin’. Ike Morgan |, al, 19 June 2023 Football steers, and every other sport and its athletes get dragged behind. Bill Oram, oregonlive, 1 Sep. 2023 The animal was Howdy Doody, a 2,200-pound, 9-year-old Watusi-longhorn mix steer who’s more dog-like than fierce fighting bull. María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 The animal was Howdy Doody, a 2,200-pound, 9-year-old Watusi-longhorn mix steer who's more doglike than fierce fighting bull. María Luisa Paúl,, 1 Sep. 2023 Obstinate steers had their eyelids sewn shut and cowboys slept in shifts under the stars, rubbing tobacco juice in their eyes to stay awake. Dan Piepenbring, Harper's Magazine, 14 Aug. 2023 Traditionally, gun use is prevalent in the production as main character Will Parker is an early 20th century prize-winning steer roper from Oklahoma. Marina Johnson, Detroit Free Press, 27 Apr. 2023 In the hour after Putin broke his silence, his comments rocketed up to the top of some state news bulletins before dropping back down again, suggesting, analysts said, that Putin's words had not given state news networks enough of a steer for coverage. Emma Burrows,, 24 Aug. 2023
The other candidates steered clear of attacking union members’ demands and instead went after other targets. Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2023 Casting In keeping with his usual style, Linklater steered away from casting professional Hollywood kids. Angie Martoccio, Rolling Stone, 28 Sep. 2023 The forward pilot steers the boat, while the rear pilot trims the sails, watching a small display to gauge the position of the sails. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 28 Sep. 2023 Because of those pressures, the primary can steer the candidates further and further from the mainstream. Monica Potts, ABC News, 26 Sep. 2023 In declining a prosecutor’s request for Taylor to be jailed, Miller warned her to steer clear of illicit substances. Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 Wilde put her hands on my shoulders and gently steered me toward the exit. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2023 Brown steered the county’s law enforcement branch during the COVID-19 pandemic. Josephine Peterson, Dallas News, 18 Sep. 2023 With most of the community flattened, survivors worked to clear debris, recover the dead and steer the living away from buildings teetering on the edge of collapse from aftershocks. Sam Metz and Mosa'ab Elshamy, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English stēor young ox; akin to Old High German stior young ox


Middle English steren, from Old English stīeran; akin to Old English stēor- steering oar, Greek stauros stake, cross, stylos pillar, Sanskrit sthavira, sthūra stout, thick

First Known Use

Noun (1)

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


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

Noun (2)

1894, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near steer

Cite this Entry

“Steer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a male domestic ox castrated before sexual maturity and especially one raised for beef
: an ox less than four years old


2 of 2 verb
: to direct the course or the course of : guide
steer by the stars
steer a boat
steer a conversation
: to follow a course of action
: to be guided
an automobile that steers well
steerable adjective

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: to subject to steering
real estate agents steering Latino buyers

More from Merriam-Webster on steer

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