\ ˈstep-ˌəp How to pronounce step-up (audio) \
plural step-ups

Definition of step-up

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an increase or advance in size or amount

step up

stepped up; stepping up; steps up

Definition of step up (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to increase (a voltage) by means of a transformer
2 : to increase, augment, or advance especially by one or more steps step up production

intransitive verb

1a : to come forward stepped up to claim responsibility
b : to succeed in meeting a challenge (as by increased effort or improved performance)
2 : to undergo an increase business is stepping up
3 : to receive a promotion

Keep scrolling for more

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: Verb Unfortunately, although many of us want to step up and help during a crisis, there are those who use this as an opportunity to take advantage of our fear and prey upon the weak. Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: PPE for you and me," 23 June 2020 Mitchell makes a direct appeal for white athletes and sports figures to step up. Sean Gregory, Time, "How Malcolm Jenkins Put Together That Powerful Black Lives Matter ESPYs Video," 22 June 2020 But Tajer said that federal officials need to step up with a rule to resolve any ambiguity. Dallas News, "Stricter face mask rules are already causing drama for American Airlines," 18 June 2020 Whitmer also called upon the federal government to step up and provide more resources for states struggling with tightened budgets due to the coronavirus pandemic. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Tulsa mayor wishes Trump had rallied elsewhere first," 17 June 2020 It’s time for those of us who have served to step up and voice our support for the rights of transgender and nonbinary people in uniform. Janessa Goldbeck,, "We Ask & We Tell, But It’s Still Hard To Be Queer In The Military," 15 June 2020 That will be left to the two teams of officials, who were last week given new marching orders to continue and step up the pace of their discussions over the next two months and beyond. Ian Wishart,, "Boris Johnson Returns to Brexit With Aim of Firing Up Faltering Talks," 15 June 2020 The insurance industry has estimated treatment costs just for COVID-19 could top $500 billion, however, so Congress is being asked to step up with more money. Danny Westneat, Anchorage Daily News, "This Seattle man’s COVID-19 survival was called a miracle. Then he got a 181-page bill for $1.1 million.," 15 June 2020 Coronavirus contact tracing apps were tech's chance to step up. NBC News, "Florida sets record for new coronavirus cases on second straight day," 12 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'step-up.' 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-up


1922, in the meaning defined above


1902, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about step-up

Time Traveler for step-up

Time Traveler

The first known use of step-up was in 1902

See more words from the same year

Statistics for step-up

Cite this Entry

“Step-up.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for step-up


How to pronounce step up (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of step-up

: an increase in size or amount

More from Merriam-Webster on step-up

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for step-up

Comments on step-up

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!