\ 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 In that murk of uncertainty, Boeing and many of its airline customers will want the regulator to wait for substantial evidence to emerge before taking the drastic step of suspending flights. Washington Post, "Fate of 737 Max Could Turn On a Single Trump Tweet," 18 Sep. 2019 The horse’s name is Marco, and the two have created quite the bond — a bond that was taken one step further when Annalies and her mother attended the Canvas in Motion event at Happy on Hooves on a recent Sunday. Lisa Gregory,, "Horses, humans ‘form a bond’ through painting at Hampstead’s Happy on Hooves," 16 Sep. 2019 The governor could find economists lining up at the steps of the capital who would tell him that cartels are more likely to be against competition than for it. Los Angeles Times, "NCAA’s argument against Fair Pay for Play has no merit and Week 3 mismatches prove it," 14 Sep. 2019 In a traditional facility, drugs are made batch by batch and every step of the process involves transferring material between a series of giant pots. The Economist, "A dire scarcity of drugs is worsening, in part, because they are so cheap," 14 Sep. 2019 The council last month passed a new salary schedule for employees and, in a separate ordinance, the council voted that the mayor's salary should be the top step of the top grade, which is $176,000 annually. Paul Gattis |, al, "Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle again vetoes salary increase," 13 Sep. 2019 Your first step is to speak with your neighbors and ask them to secure their property. Gary Singer,, "Ask a real estate pro: How do I get my neighbor to remove items from lawn before hurricane?," 13 Sep. 2019 Following the emergence of the lung illness, several states have taken steps of their own to rein in vaping. Jeff Green, Fortune, "Will Banning Flavored Vaping Cartridges Help People Quit? Experts Aren’t Sure," 12 Sep. 2019 Our interviews showed that Florida hotels take steps every year to mitigate the impact of hurricane season. Rick Lagiewski, The Conversation, "Hotels play vital role in relief efforts when disaster strikes," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb After roasting two cupcakes in the solitude of Pullman, Washington State’s quarterback steps into the spotlight: On the road, on ESPN, against a quality opponent (Houston). Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Hotline newsletter: Heat Index 2.0, TV exposure galore in Week Three, crafting the football schedule and more," 14 Sep. 2019 But the former vice president's sister has stepped back from a daily role in Biden's latest bid, citing the demands of her position at the University of Delaware's Biden Institute. Alexander Tin, CBS News, "Joe Biden's sister dismisses calls for Justice Kavanaugh's impeachment," 17 Sep. 2019 The council presidency has long been a stepping stone to the mayor’s office. Ian Duncan,, "Baltimore Councilman Leon Pinkett says he’ll run for council president; Sneed says she’s also considering job," 14 Sep. 2019 According to Darktrace, a computer-security firm, attackers from Finland managed to break into the tank’s systems, then used it as a stepping stone for the rest of the casino’s networks. The Economist, "A connected world will be a playground for hackers," 12 Sep. 2019 The collection remains true to her design aesthetic while stepping it up: long layers of fringe, pearl details floating above organza ruffles, and excellent tailoring. Michelle Li, Teen Vogue, "Meet The Designer Who Wants Everyone To Wear More Sheer Clothing," 10 Sep. 2019 But what is the difference between seeking your vocation as a work-a-day role versus a stepping stone to bigger things? Gwen Moran, Fortune, "How to Tell If Your Job Is a Stepping Stone to a Career," 9 Sep. 2019 Whether coming or going, try not to step on anyone’s mat. The Washington Post, The Know, "The 12 dos and don’ts of yoga class," 7 Sep. 2019 McIntyre, a longtime local lawyer who led the county bar association, has stressed that he is committed to San Diego and wouldn’t use the council seat as a stepping stone to higher office in Sacramento. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Republicans rallying to save one of two remaining San Diego council seats," 2 Sep. 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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Statistics for step

Last Updated

3 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for step

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

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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).


an agreement to stop fighting a war

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