\ 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

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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 China also agreed to step up its efforts to fight climate change. New York Times, "China and E.U. Leaders Strike Investment Deal, but Political Hurdles Await," 30 Dec. 2020 It’s time for America to step up diplomatic and economic efforts and reinsert itself in this process. Ivan Sascha Sheehan, National Review, "Russia’s New Territory," 23 Dec. 2020 The Democratic Party should step up its efforts to connect with rural voters who have gravitated toward President Trump and other Republican candidates in recent years, Democratic Montana Sen. Jon Tester said in an interview published Wednesday. Thomas Barrabi, Fox News, "Montana Sen. Jon Tester says Democrats' message to rural voters is 'really, really flawed'," 17 Dec. 2020 Florida is among the states being asked to step up its efforts, efforts — such as shutting down bars and indoor dining — that run contrary to what Gov. Ron DeSantis has espoused. Eileen Kelley,, "White House coronavirus report contradicts DeSantis, urges ban on inside gatherings away from home," 12 Dec. 2020 With a coronavirus vaccine around the corner, Facebook will step up its efforts to remove false claims about vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, the company said Thursday. Washington Post, "Facebook steps up campaign to ban false information about coronavirus vaccines," 3 Dec. 2020 The bloc has already faced calls to step up its crisis response efforts, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced a proposal to create an EU version of BARDA. James Paton,, "Operation Warp Speed and U.K. Vaccine Drive Leave Europe Behind," 3 Dec. 2020 Yet both companies may need to step up their advertising and promotional efforts even further in the coming months. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "It's the 'golden age' of sports betting," 13 Nov. 2020 City officials are trying to contain the virus by opening more pop-up testing sites in areas that are experiencing a surge in cases, and by deploying the city’s community health and prevention teams to step up outreach and education efforts. Peggy O’hare,, "‘Uptick’ in COVID cases continues in San Antonio; 201 new infections reported," 29 Oct. 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.

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First Known Use of step-up


1922, in the meaning defined above


1902, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Time Traveler for step-up

Time Traveler

The first known use of step-up was in 1902

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Cite this Entry

“Step-up.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce step up (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of step-up

: an increase in size or amount

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