\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 sterilization step is important given past concerns about sewage and agricultural contaminating the supply. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The Royal Family Flew in Special Water for Prince Louis's Christening Today," 10 July 2018 Movidius made a custom chip just for deep learning processes because the steps involved are highly restricted on a CPU. Andy Patrizio, Ars Technica, "The AI revolution has spawned a new chips arms race," 9 July 2018 In September of 2017, Melania Trump embarked on her first solo international trip under her husband's administration, a big step for the presidential spouse who has taken her time stepping into the role embraced by most modern first ladies. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "A Brief History of Donald Trump’s Controversial Interactions with the British Royal Family," 9 July 2018 Most parents are overjoyed by a child's first steps. Sarah Klein,, "This Video of a 4-Year-Old With Cerebral Palsy Walking on Her Own for the First Time Will Make Your Day," 6 July 2018 In order to reconnect people with their heritage and reclaim music as the art of the people, teaching people to make their own nay is a very important step. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "In rediscovered reed flute, a soulful link to Jordanian identity," 13 July 2018 Starbucks’ move to phase out plastic straws is a positive step toward changing a culture that’s accustomed to single-use plastics. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "Critics of Starbucks’ Straw Ban Are Missing the Point," 12 July 2018 The Canada native takes a step back to observe the ills of society exuded throughout the clip. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Classified Hopes to Spark Change in Society With New 'Fallen' Video: Premiere," 29 June 2018 The site may have already been compromised by the earlier, nuclear explosions and its destruction was one step among many that would be needed to achieve denuclearization. Calvin Woodward And Hope Yen,, "Trump is in Europe and the truth is not with him: A fact check," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Before paying customers step on board, though, Blue Origin is expected to send employees up to demonstrate the safety of the spacecraft and to do additional tests. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Jeff Bezos May Charge $200,000 or More to Fly You to Outer Space," 13 July 2018 But, from a power perspective at least, if a 4-terabyte, six-core MacBook Pro does in fact mean people can step away from their desktop workstations and produce heavy multimedia projects in the field, that is a marked improvement. Lauren Goode, WIRED, "Apple's MacBook Pros Get Faster Chips, New Keyboards (Kinda)," 12 July 2018 The German supermodel had no trouble making her choice after 15-year-old Makayla Phillips stepped on the stage. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'America's Got Talent' Contestant Makayla Phillips Earns Golden Buzzer and Fans Are Furious," 11 July 2018 Aguilar caught the ball barehanded and quickly stepped on the base just ahead of Maybin for the out. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Marlins 4, Brewers 3 (10 innings): Hader surrenders back-to-back homers; offense struggles," 9 July 2018 His wife walked up to the home and retrieved a keepsake, a square garden stepping stone. J. Harry Jones,, "Some Alpine fire evacuations lifted; residents find homes in ruins," 7 July 2018 The actress and musician, 48, is partnering up with Proctor & Gamble to launch the Queen Collective — an initiative aimed at helping more women step behind the camera. Ale Russian,, "Queen Latifah Launches Queen Collective to Give Female Filmmakers a Chance to Tell Their Story," 6 July 2018 People step off the bus; lounge on the grass in the Place des Vosges; walk through the garden of the seventeenth-century Hôtel de Sully with its tidy box shrubs to the sound of birds and a nearby harpist. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "Eating Alone," 6 July 2018 Young buyers from the Millennial generation are stepping off the sidelines now, representing a significant chunk of the buyer market, said Ross Mackesey, manager of the Lake Roland office for Long and Foster. Reema Amin,, "Housing indicators reflect strong seller's market in Baltimore region," 13 July 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

3 Nov 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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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