\ 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; steps

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 They stepped into the elevator. She stepped inside and closed the door. I'm sorry, but he just stepped outside for a moment. When I call your name, please step forward. She stepped up to the microphone. I stepped up/down onto the landing. He stepped back, startled. Please step away from the moving doors. They stepped aside to let the paramedics through. We watched as the passengers stepped ashore.
b : dance Joyfully along the contra lines, the dancers held hands, listened to the caller, and stepped to the music …— Joan Donaldson
2a : to go on foot : walk She stepped down to the corner store. — see also step out
b obsolete : advance, proceed
c : to be on one's way : leave often used with along told them to step along — see also step aside, step down
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
5 : to extend by or as if by a stairstep … the room steps down past a viewing area to a projection television screen hung from the ceiling.Sunset A wooden retaining wall—which holds the slope above the staircase—steps up in level sections.— Susan Lang

transitive verb

1 : to take (a pace, etc.) by moving the feet in succession step three paces
2a : to move (the foot) in any direction : set the first person to step foot on the moon
b : to traverse (something) on foot … proud … of stepping this famous pavement …— Virginia Woolf
3 : to go through the steps of (something) : perform step a minuet
4 : to make (something) erect by fixing the lower end in a step step the mast
5 : to measure (something) by steps step off 50 yards
6a : to provide (something) with steps He stepped the front of the stage down into the stalls and built a permanent cyclorama across the full width of the rear wall.— Colin Chambers
b : to make steps in (something) step a key
7 : to construct or arrange (something) in or as if in steps … we looked down on an expanse of craggy peaks with terraces stepped up the sides …Time

— see also step on it, step up

Definition of step- (Entry 3 of 3)

: related by virtue of a remarriage (as of a parent) and not by blood stepparent stepsister

Other Words from step


steplike \ ˈstep-​ˌlīk How to pronounce step (audio) \ adjective
stepped \ ˈstept How to pronounce step (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 Next step was putting on the matching tail/skirt, to which had been attached, at the bottom, a beginner’s plastic black monofin. Debbi Kickham, Forbes, 11 Aug. 2022 But many people weren’t using them, so the next step was clearing the path to greater participation. Deborah Sullivan Brennan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Aug. 2022 The next step was moving him back toward the coast in a refrigerated truck. Ellen Francis, Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2022 Last week, Washington made a big step forward in its efforts to stay competitive. Yvonne Lau, Fortune, 7 Aug. 2022 Mayor Woodfin has made a right step by investing in education with the Birmingham Promise, but in a state with less corporate competition than usual, and industry induced environmental pollution, more private investments are needed. David Sher, al, 7 Aug. 2022 The next step is seeing if the people who eventually claim those roles can be relied on come game day. Stephen Means, cleveland, 5 Aug. 2022 The next step might be confronting whatever inhibitions blocked you from noticing these options sooner. Chicago Tribune, 3 Aug. 2022 The next step is inviting residents and business owners in Granby to join in the sessions and help gather information on what is needed in the community to combat the problem. Steve Smith, Hartford Courant, 3 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That worldliness charted a path for a post-basketball career that ultimately led Ewalefo to step into a role created for her at the world’s digital melting pot itself: Facebook (Meta). Jasmine Browley, Essence, 9 Aug. 2022 Former top recruit Korey Foreman was supposed to step right into the role of fearsome pass rusher as a true freshman. Los Angeles Times, 3 Aug. 2022 Michele is slated to step into the role of Fanny Brice beginning September 6 following original star Beanie Feldstein’s somewhat controversial, early exit from the production. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, 2 Aug. 2022 Xi, who elevated the importance of the United Front Work Department during his first term, is seeking to step into a third term this fall, an unprecedented move in recent decades and one that comes at a difficult time for China. Simone Mccarthy, CNN, 1 Aug. 2022 You are being asked to step into a higher role; this could show up in a family dynamic, a friend group, the community, your work environment, or a romantic relationship. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 1 Aug. 2022 So can ringside physicians, who determine whether fighters are fit to step into the ring and to stay there. New York Times, 29 July 2022 How has Ashlyn's confidence grown since having to step into a leading role last season? Samantha Olson, Seventeen, 25 July 2022 For a person avoiding fights, Miller is not afraid to step into more than a few. Bryce Millercolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 July 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Step.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for step


\ 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
5 : footprint
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on step

Nglish: Translation of step for Spanish Speakers

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


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