\ 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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The sun felt stronger, the colors more vivid, and the steps were warm beneath me. Jenni Avins, Quartz, "A spiritual retreat actually transformed me," 28 Nov. 2019 And if your teen is vaping, the next step is helping them quit their nicotine addiction. Julie Mazziotta,, "How to Talk to Your Kids About Vaping — Two Pulmonologists Give Facts and Tips," 27 Nov. 2019 The first step was to make sure that emergency doctors know who needs addiction treatment. Alister Martin, STAT, "Changing emergency doctors’ behaviors to promote wider use of medication for opioid use disorder," 27 Nov. 2019 The first step is making a family tree to figure out what heirs exist. Sarah Whites-koditschek, al, "Alabama descendants look to reclaim land clouded by legacy of Jim Crow," 26 Nov. 2019 The next step is for local communities to set up ordinances consistent with the intent of the new law. Jim Riccioli, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "This new bill will help Wisconsin communities crack down on massage parlor prostitution," 25 Nov. 2019 The next legal step is for the court to decide whether the lawsuit will be permitted to go forward on behalf of a nationwide class. Alejandro De La Garza, Time, "Dark Waters Tells the True Story of the Lawyer Who Took DuPont to Court and Won. But Rob Bilott’s Fight Is Far From Over," 25 Nov. 2019 Everything seems to be clicking, and maybe the special teams will take the next step as well. Mike Preston,, "Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 45-6 rout of Rams," 25 Nov. 2019 Everybody should know what was decided and the next steps. Jenna Schnuer, Fortune, "Microsoft Proved a Four-Day Workweek Improved Productivity in Japan. Can Its Results Translate to the U.S.?," 24 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The film’s de-aging technology presents us with a 40-years-younger version of Pacino and raises the possibility that many other older actors could step into roles meant for much younger characters. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Why Al Pacino Matters," 29 Nov. 2019 Foxborough assistant Bordieri honored From correspondent Dan Shulman: Mike Bordieri, who was a two-year starter for Foxborough at fullback and inside linebacker before stepping into coaching in 1984, is retiring after this season., "Robertson, Marblehead win it with 7 seconds left," 28 Nov. 2019 One user suggested describing a Thanksgiving meal over the phone, while others proposed stepping outside. Megan Cassidy,, "Thousands report outages at Facebook, Instagram on Thanksgiving," 28 Nov. 2019 The court, composed of five conservatives nominated by Republican presidents and four liberals chosen by Democrats, has little choice but to step onto a fiercely partisan battleground. Author: Robert Barnes, Ann E. Marimow, Anchorage Daily News, "As Trump cases arrive, Supreme Court’s desire to be seen as neutral arbiter will be tested," 27 Nov. 2019 Fans will find that, sonically, the band has stepped off the dance floor. Mark Kennedy, Houston Chronicle, "Review: Coldplay turn their back on arena pop-rock," 26 Nov. 2019 The publication reports that Queen Elizabeth has cancelled a large celebration planned for Prince Andrew's 60th birthday, which would have highlighted his charities—all of which he's stepped back from, as of this morning. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth Reportedly Cancelled Prince Andrew's 60th Birthday Party," 25 Nov. 2019 Miller broke out in his rookie season to step into a starting role due to injuries, while Smith survived the departure of O’Connor, who brought him to Orlando from Louisville City FC. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City declines options for 10 players, including starting centerback Lamine Sané," 23 Nov. 2019 When Kyle Allen, Newton's backup, stepped into the lineup and delivered four straight victories while throwing seven touchdown passes and no interceptions, there seemed no need for Newton to rush back. Mark Inabinett |, al, "What’s next for Cam Newton?," 20 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for step

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for step

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Step.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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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.

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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).


easily led, controlled, or managed

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