step up

1 of 2


stepped up; stepping up; steps up

transitive verb

: to increase, augment, or advance especially by one or more steps
The team really stepped up their performance.
The enemy stepped up their attacks.
He also plans to step up efforts to headhunt for the best and brightest …Jerry Garrett
Factory production was stepped up in an effort to meet helicopter shortfalls.Shelby L. Stanton
: to increase (a voltage) by means of a transformer
… the use of transformers to step up the voltage to very high levels …Thomas P. Hughes

intransitive verb

: to make the effort required to provide information, make a claim, volunteer, etc.
She stepped up to claim responsibility.
see also step up to the plate
: to succeed in meeting a challenge (as by increased effort or improved performance)
They just didn't have the guys to step up and make the big plays with the game on the line.Peter King
: to undergo an increase
Business is stepping up.
: to receive a promotion
She stepped up to the position of general manager.


2 of 2


variants or step up
plural step-ups or step ups
: an increase or advance (as in size or amount) and especially one that is gradual or incremental
Lower inflation will minimize cost-of-living step-ups for Social Security recipients …Arthur M. Louis
This model will give them the quality step-up they want at a decent price …Len Feldman
"… We expect a gradual step up in sales each quarter as 2021 progresses, followed by an extended period of growth starting in 2022."Nick Stanage

Examples of step up in a Sentence

Verb candidates stepping up their campaigns as election day draws near stepped up the pace to catch up with the others
Recent Examples on the Web
At home, Ukraine is stepping up its own efforts to produce artillery shells under programs shrouded in secrecy, lest the locations become targets for Russian missiles. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 5 Apr. 2024 The United Auto Workers union has stepped up the pace on its march south. Stephan Bisaha, NPR, 5 Apr. 2024 Following Gutierrez’s initial report, the state stepped up efforts to find boxers eligible for pension money and began sending out checks. Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2024 Air quality officials have stepped up efforts to reduce ozone levels and now also face tighter limits on small dust particles. Caralin Nunes, The Arizona Republic, 1 Apr. 2024 Meanwhile this week, the former president stepped up his attacks on the judge and his family in the New York hush money case, after that judge imposed a partial gag order on Mr. Trump less than three weeks from the April 15th start date in that trial. Nbc Universal, NBC News, 31 Mar. 2024 In recent months, Prince William reportedly stepped up his public appearances as his father underwent treatment and the internet speculated about his wife's health and whereabouts. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 31 Mar. 2024 The One Network solution mostly enables swift resolution of problems occurring one step back or one step up in a company’s supply chain. Steve Banker, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Young will need to step up his performance with a better supporting group around him. Mike Kaye, Charlotte Observer, 25 Mar. 2024
Although taxes should never be the sole consideration for property transfers, the favorable step-up in basis may be a powerful incentive to hold off. Liz Weston, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Mar. 2024 Delegate accreditation at Series Mania’s Forum, its three-day industry event running March 19-21, is on track to pass 4,000 participants, an all time record, and a huge step-up, say, from 2016, when attendance was limited to around 300 executives. John Hopewell, Variety, 15 Mar. 2024 In community property states such as California, both halves of the property may get that step-up. Liz Weston, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Mar. 2024 Even with those caveats though, that’s a remarkable step-up for a heady, epic-length follow-up. J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 2 Mar. 2024 But in the presence of [section] 1014 and the step-up in basis, that's not necessarily true. Tax Notes Staff, Forbes, 27 Feb. 2024 Parallel to directors and producers step-up in ambition, two governmental initiatives – a Catalan Minority Co-Production Fund, launched 2020, and €1.5 million ($1.6 million) grant for up to five high-end Catalan language series each year – are reshaping Catalonia’s industry. John Hopewell, Variety, 15 Feb. 2024 As of the date of death, the estate received a step-up in basis to the total face value even if the bond was purchased at a discount—the gain was tax-free and could be used to pay estate taxes. Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 The company that makes semaglutide, Novo Nordisk, has recommendations for how patients should take the drug safely, including utilizing a step-up approach—starting with a smaller dose and working their way up. Kaitlin Sullivan, Health, 31 Jan. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use


1902, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2


1879, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of step up was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near step up

Cite this Entry

“Step up.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

step up

: to increase the voltage of (a current) using a transformer
: to increase or advance
step up production
: to come forward
stepped up to accept responsibility
: to succeed in meeting a challenge (as by greater effort or better performance)

More from Merriam-Webster on step up

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