\ ˈstep How to pronounce step (audio) \

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
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from step


steplike \ ˈstep-​ˌlīk How to pronounce steplike (audio) \ adjective
stepped \ ˈstept How to pronounce stepped (audio) \ adjective

Examples of step in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Sampaio's cover is the latest step forward in inclusivity for Sports Illustrated. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, "Valentina Sampaio makes history as first openly transgender Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model," 10 July 2020 Experts said that diversifying their own staffs will be a critical first step for tech companies, who need to do better at recruiting and retaining people from underrepresented backgrounds, including Black people and other people of color. Erin Brodwin, STAT, "Tech giants are well-positioned to help close racial gaps in health. They have little to show for it," 7 July 2020 But ultimately, finding safer ways to gather in person is a necessary step—not just for event organizers but for Hartz’s company, which relies on a cut of tickets sold. Michal Lev-ram, Fortune, "Tech companies aim to bring back live gatherings—with rules," 2 July 2020 This is a big step for the Japanese brand, whose only other mass-market electric vehicle, the Leaf hatchback, makes do with one motor and front-wheel drive. Beth Nichols, Car and Driver, "Nissan Ariya EV Crossover Debuts July 15," 1 July 2020 But, finalizing the equity financing is a big step forward. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Downtown's delayed Couture high-rise has secured its investor financing -- setting stage for construction start," 26 June 2020 Barry Clegg, chairman of the Charter Commission, has said the process to implement change so quickly after Floyd's death may not be the best step forward. Fox News, "Minneapolis City Council unanimously votes on plan to dismantle police department in wake of anti-brutality protests," 26 June 2020 The next step forward for Seven Hills is scheduling in-house concrete projects, which will be completed at a cost savings to the city. John Benson, cleveland, "Seven Hills resident donates concrete, trains service employees," 24 June 2020 With the coronavirus ebbing in the region, the series was supposed to be a step toward normalcy for a sport that has been shut down since mid-March. ... Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Tests Positive for Covid-19," 23 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Keeping your back flat and core tight, step the right hand out to the side and then back in, followed by the left hand. Rozalynn S. Frazier,, "The 21-Day Mini Resistance Band Challenge That Will Tone and Strengthen Your Entire Body," 10 July 2020 However, even with the good news, fans shouldn't expect a deep dive into the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's—Prince Harry and Meghan Markle—courtship, or their decision to step back from senior roles. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Netflix’s The Crown Will Now Run for Six Seasons, Instead of Five," 9 July 2020 The boaters often don't even step on the dock, opting instead for delivery. Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Everybody is really looking to escape' as summer tourism destinations fill up with visitors," 2 July 2020 It could be used as a useful reminder to eat or step away from your computer every once in a while, too. Kaya Yurieff, CNN, "7 tips to make you a Slack power user," 11 July 2020 My friend who used to rarely step foot in her kitchen, started cooking again because of her Hello Fresh subscription. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "13 things that make cooking during the summer easier," 10 July 2020 While Curt runs the show and Jim still serves as president of the corporation, Curt’s son Samuel has started to step into the role of operations manager at the company’s Anchorage location. Anchorage Daily News, "MAKing It: A community lifeline," 10 July 2020 Azra closed the gate, and heard her mother break away from her loops in the garden to step into the driveway and bolt the gate from inside. New York Times, "RACHeL KushNer," 8 July 2020 Alabama state officials, who are elected to partisan offices, have opted to step away from requiring masks in public. al, "Alabama unmasked: Mask-wearing debates a microcosm of polarized issue," 3 July 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about step

Time Traveler for step

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for step

Last Updated

2 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Step.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for step


How to pronounce step- (audio)

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 How to pronounce step (audio) \

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
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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on step

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for step

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with step

Spanish Central: Translation of step

Nglish: Translation of step for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of step for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about step

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!