\ 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 solid rear axle on leaf springs remembers a few old bugaloo steps now and again. Patrick Bedard, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1991 GMC Syclone vs. Ferrari 348ts," 29 May 2020 From there, users follow a series of steps to use AltStore to download, sign, and—after connecting to the device with a Lightning cable—cause the device to run the unc0ver binary file. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Meet unc0ver, the new jailbreak that pops shell—and much more—on any iPhone," 26 May 2020 Philadelphia took similar steps when afflicted with yellow fever in 1793 (tragically, quarantine was useless for a disease doctors did not yet realize was spread by mosquitoes). Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "The constitutional immune system kicks in," 22 May 2020 Imagine if filing for unemployment triggered a next step – either presenting a series of subsidized health plan options through or auto-enrolling those eligible in Medicaid. Paul Shafer, The Conversation, "4 ways COVID-19 has exposed gaps in the US social safety net," 22 May 2020 China is taking steps to stop the consumption of exotic animal meat. Benjamin Vanhoose,, "China to Offer Buy-Outs to Farmers Raising Exotic Animals for Human Consumption: Report," 19 May 2020 And developed nations will limp on, their policies to extract themselves from this double crisis hopelessly out of step with the times. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "Making Life Cheap," 18 May 2020 Researchers emphasize that the recent ozone hole in the Arctic would have been substantially worse had countries not taken steps to curb pollution. Popular Science, "Wacky weather punched a new hole in the ozone—and it could happen again," 18 May 2020 The compound was cleared by the FDA last month to start phase one human trials, the first of several steps to test the drug’s safety and effectiveness. Lisa Song, ProPublica, "A Trump Official Tried to Fast-Track Funding for His Friend’s Unproven COVID-19 “Treatment,” Whistleblower Says," 14 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But even though there may not be pomp because of our circumstances, never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose, vision, passion and energy and hope. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "Graduation 2020: Facebook and Instagram celebrate the Class of 2020," 15 May 2020 These aren’t the six best or most talented players, but those who are stepping into important roles for Louisville — players who can catapult Louisville to another level with a strong season. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "These 6 players will play a big role in Louisville football's 2020 success," 14 May 2020 The central bank may eventually need to step into the breach. Mike Bird, WSJ, "India Tests the Limits of Public Finance in Emerging Markets," 13 May 2020 The latter hasn't fought in more than three years, but is eager to step into the octagon. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Ferguson and Gaethje headline UFC 249, the first major US sports event since coronavirus shutdown," 9 May 2020 One area the company stepped into was providing food for patients who were stuck at home. William Thornton |, al, "Birmingham startups adapting to pandemic needs," 3 May 2020 Who would not want to step into such an elating realm? Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "Home theater: Escape into the joyous world of musicals," 22 Apr. 2020 But now, after the likes of China and Cuba started stepping into the void with medical supplies, doctors and nurses, the European Commission is in apologetic mode and pledging to do better. David Meyer, Fortune, "Scenarios for a post-COVID-19 world," 17 Apr. 2020 According to Carla Frisch of the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute, states and cities have learned how to step into the void on climate change. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "To combat coronavirus, states are relearning lessons from the climate fight," 16 Apr. 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.

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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 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Step.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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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

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