\ ˈstep \

Definition of step 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a rest for the foot in ascending or descending: such as

a : one of a series of structures consisting of a riser and a tread

b : a ladder rung

2a(1) : an advance or movement made by raising the foot and bringing it down elsewhere

(2) : a combination of foot or foot and body movements constituting a unit or a repeated pattern a dance step

(3) : manner of walking : stride

b : footprint sense 1

c : the sound of a footstep

3a : the space passed over in one step

b : a short distance

c : the height of one stair

4 steps plural : course, way directed his steps toward the river

5a : a degree, grade, or rank in a scale

b : a stage in a process was guided through every step of my career

6 : a frame on a ship designed to receive an upright shaft especially : a block supporting the heel of a mast

7 : an action, proceeding, or measure often occurring as one in a series taking steps to improve the situation

8 : a steplike offset or part usually occurring in a series

9 : the interval between two adjacent notes in a musical scale

11 : a slight lead in or as if in a race has a step on the competition

in step

1 : with each foot moving to the same time as the corresponding foot of others or in time to music

2 : in harmony or agreement

out of step

: not in step out of step with the times


stepped; stepping

Definition of step (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to move by raising the foot and bringing it down elsewhere or by moving each foot in succession

b : dance

2a : to go on foot : walk

b obsolete : advance, proceed

c : to be on one's way : leave often used with along

d : to move briskly kept us stepping

3 : to press down with the foot step on the brake

4 : to come as if at a single step stepped into a good job

transitive verb

1 : to take by moving the feet in succession step three paces

2a : to move (the foot) in any direction : set the first man to step foot on the moon

b : to traverse on foot

3 : to go through the steps of : perform step a minuet

4 : to make erect by fixing the lower end in a step step the mast

5 : to measure by steps step off 50 yards

6a : to provide with steps

b : to make steps in step a key

7 : to construct or arrange in or as if in steps craggy peaks with terraces stepped up the sidesTime

step on it

: to increase one's speed : hurry up

Definition of step- (Entry 3 of 3)

: related by virtue of a remarriage (as of a parent) and not by blood stepparent stepsister

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Other words from step


steplike \ˈstep-ˌlīk \ adjective
stepped \ˈstept \ adjective

Examples of step in a Sentence


She took one step forward. The baby took her first steps today. I heard steps on the stairs. The edge of the cliff was only about three steps to my left. The cottage is just steps from the beach. He walks with a spring in his step. She walked down the hall with a quick step. a major step towards independence We are taking steps to correct the situation.


She stepped onto the bus. They stepped aside to let her pass. Please step away from the door. He stepped outside for a moment. Step in my office for a minute.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The first step towards showing up in your fullest magic is to realize that so much of your power lies in the concept of process. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Weekly Horoscopes July 16-22," 13 July 2018 Taking the first step toward this gorilla was tough. Jeanne Houck,, "Mount Adams teacher rowing to England facing 'gorilla' of an ocean storm," 13 July 2018 Source: Morningstar The next step is to deduct from that $80,000 estimated Social Security and pension benefits. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, "Behind on Retirement Savings? It’s Not Too Late to Catch Up," 12 July 2018 The next step is for Jupiter Realty to submit a permit application to village staff for review. Chuck Fieldman,, "Residents crowd Oak Brook meeting to oppose 22-story luxury condo development," 12 July 2018 The next step will be the installation of its smile on either Aug. 8 or 9, weather permitting. Jordyn Noennig, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smile will return to iconic Delafield barn in early August as new toy, candy shop prepares to open," 11 July 2018 This step isn’t about one-off finals and spectacles, though. Eric Van Allen, WIRED, "Live on ESPN: Is Esports Finally Ready for Its Crossover Moment?," 11 July 2018 Borenstein said the next steps will be the hardest. Dale Kasler, sacbee, "California beats its 2020 goals for cutting greenhouse gases," 11 July 2018 The next step is refining his post game and defensive positioning, while Phoenix figures out the optimal way to win through him. Jeremy Woo,, "Rookie Report Cards: The Most Noteworthy Summer League Showings," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

At exactly the wrong time in exactly the wrong place, an elk stepped onto the pavement in an effort to get somewhere else. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Born of tragedy, newborn elk triumphs thanks to kindness of strangers," 12 July 2018 On a recent afternoon, Mr. Ahmed, the stadium manager, stepped onto the field with a group of visitors, held out his hands and exhaled. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "The 2022 World Cup Plants Some Trees and Prepares to Step Into the Spotlight," 12 July 2018 For the first time in her WNBA career, Layshia Clarendon stepped onto the court at Mohegan Sun Arena in a blue and orange uniform. Kelli Stacy,, "Layshia Clarendon Plays First Game In Sun Uniform In Loss To Liberty," 11 July 2018 These days, the pop star still struggles to step onto the stage from time to time. Sam Tornow, Billboard, "Ariana Grande Opens Up About How Manchester Changed Her Life: 'Everything Is Different'," 11 July 2018 Step down and repeat stepping onto the bench with your left foot. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Stepping up your training can boost your heart, lower-body muscles," 11 July 2018 Anyone who stepped onto a path that seemed immediately secure and profitable has moments of doubt, moments of yearning to do other things. Dan Rodricks,, "On leaving baseball, flipping the First, discovering an awesome tree," 6 July 2018 Not so for Ryan Morgan, who stepped onto the court brimming with confidence in his quest to make history for the La Cañada High boys’ tennis team. Charles Rich,, "All-Area Boys' Tennis Singles Player of the Year: Morgan makes history for Spartans," 4 July 2018 As Callans retreats, the quarterback steps onto the soft bump for a balancing act as his second rehabilitation exercise, designed to strengthen the ligaments near where the ankle meets the foot. Ross Dellenger,, "Nick Fitzgerald Rehabs and Readies to Embrace an Offense That Could Make Him Better Than Ever," 27 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of step


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


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

History and Etymology for step


Middle English, from Old English stæpe; akin to Old High German stapfo step, stampfōn to stamp

Combining form

Middle English, from Old English stēop-; akin to Old High German stiof- step-, Old English astēpan to deprive, bereave

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Statistics for step

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for step

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

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More Definitions for step



English Language Learners Definition of step

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a movement made by lifting your foot and putting it down in a different place

: the sound of a foot making a step

: the distance covered in one step; also : a short distance



English Language Learners Definition of step (Entry 2 of 3)

: to move in a specified direction by lifting your foot and putting it down in a different place : to move somewhere by walking

: to put your foot down

English Language Learners Definition of step- (Entry 3 of 3)

—used to describe family relationships that are created when a person who already has a child marries someone who is not the child's parent


\ ˈstep \

Kids Definition of step

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a movement made by lifting one foot and putting it down in another spot

2 : a rest or place for the foot in going up or down : stair

3 : a combination of foot and body movements in a repeated pattern a dance step

4 : manner of walking a lively step

5 : footprint

6 : the sound of a footstep I heard steps in the hall.

7 : the space passed over in one step The garden was a few steps away.

8 : a short distance The house is only a step away.

9 : the height of one stair

10 steps plural : course entry 1 sense 2 We directed our steps toward home.

11 : one of a series of actions taken to achieve something They took steps to correct the situation.

12 : a stage in a process What's the first step in assembling the toy?

13 : a level, grade, or rank in a scale or series His work was a step above average.

14 : the distance from one tone of a musical scale or one note on a musical staff to another that is one tone away ( half step ) or two tones away ( whole step )


stepped; stepping

Kids Definition of step (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to move in a particular way or direction by lifting one foot and putting it down in another spot They stepped aside to let me pass.

2 : dance entry 1 sense 1 The couple stepped gracefully together.

3 : to go on foot : walk He stepped slowly along the path.

4 : to move quickly They were really stepping along.

5 : to put or press the foot on or in I stepped on glass. Don't step in the puddle.

6 : to come or move as if at a step by the foot I stepped into a good job.

7 : to measure by steps Step off ten yards.

step up

: to increase the amount, speed, or intensity of The factory stepped up production.

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Comments on step

What made you want to look up step? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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