step

1 of 3

noun

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
2
a(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
3
a
: 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
5
a
: 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
10
11
: a slight lead in or as if in a race
has a step on the competition
steplike adjective
stepped adjective

step

2 of 3

verb

stepped; stepping; steps

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
6
a
: 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

step-

3 of 3

combining form

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

Example Sentences

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
But for second-year pros like Dosunmu, the next step is moving from reaction to proactivity, especially at point guard. Julia Poe, Chicago Tribune, 17 Nov. 2022 The next step is to secure a construction manager and, if all goes as expected, the university will break ground by the summer of 2023. Danya Perez, San Antonio Express-News, 17 Nov. 2022 Jackson-Bey said another step toward decreasing the gap is to establish a federal mandate that requires insurance companies to cover fertility treatment, and states should follow the lead of New York and 18 other states that already require it. Randi Richardson, NBC News, 17 Nov. 2022 Biden said in his remarks that the consensus of nations that took part in the emergency meeting in Bali was the next step was a meeting of ambassadors. Francesca Chambers, USA TODAY, 16 Nov. 2022 But in a multiteam tie, the next step if the teams haven’t all played each other is win percentage against all common conference opponents. Staff Writer Follow, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2022 Writers, producers, editors, engineers and others are included in the union, whose next step will be to negotiate a contract with management. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Nov. 2022 Read on for more reflections from Soyeon, Minnie, Yuqi, Miyeon and Shuhua on their rebuilding process, reuniting with worldwide fans, and continuously pushing each other to the next big step. Jeff Benjamin, Billboard, 15 Nov. 2022 The first step is super-cooling the liquid oxygen fuel lines to prepare for the cold fuel to come. Lee Roop | Lroop@al.com, al, 15 Nov. 2022
Verb
Invitees gasped at designer Marc Jacobs taking in the details of the 1999 Les Méduse asymmetrical organza dress while simultaneously warning a guest not to step on the five-foot train of their sheer bustier gown. Tara Gonzalez, Harper's BAZAAR, 18 Nov. 2022 In fact, even the person handling 14 hours a day of ADR had to step outside for walks in between editing. Emily Longeretta, Variety, 17 Nov. 2022 But while no Democrat wanted to step on Pelosi’s moment, the jockeying to replace her was well underway. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 17 Nov. 2022 The graduation of all-around star Alyssa Ziehler and point guard Brianna Hunt means that some of last year’s role players need to step into new roles. Joe Magill, cleveland, 17 Nov. 2022 So during her senior year, when the opportunity to take a job organizing events for the University president came up, Pryor decided to step away from rowing. Michelle Konstantinovsky, SELF, 17 Nov. 2022 This benefit, however, could be lost if the Biden administration’s proposal to eliminate the step-up basis becomes law. Cheryl Winokur Munk, WSJ, 16 Nov. 2022 Vitale worked several games to start last season, while undergoing chemotherapy, before having to step away and focus on his health. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2022 It’s another symbolic sign of Britain’s shrinking place in the wake of Brexit, and the continental rivals that will step into position. Joe Easton, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Nov. 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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near step

Cite this Entry

“Step.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/step. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

step 1 of 2

noun

1
: a rest for the foot in going up or down : stair, rung
2
a
: a movement made by raising the foot and bringing it down elsewhere
b
: a combination of foot or foot and body movements in a repeated pattern
c
: manner of walking : stride
knows me by my step
d
e
: the sound of a footstep
3
a
: the space passed over in one step
b
: a short distance
only a step away
c
: the height of one stair
4
plural : course entry 1 sense 2, way
guided their steps down the path
5
a
: a level or rank in a scale
one step nearer graduation
b
: a stage in a process
6
: an action, proceeding, or measure often occurring as one in a series
took steps to correct the situation
7
: a musical scale degree
steplike adjective
stepped adjective

step

2 of 2

verb

stepped; stepping
1
a
: to move or take by raising the foot and bringing it down elsewhere or by moving each foot in order
step three paces
stepped ashore
2
a
: to go on foot : walk
step outside
b
: to move briskly
really stepped along
3
: to press down with the foot
step on a nail
4
: to come as if at a single step
step into a good job
5
: to measure by steps
stepper noun

More from Merriam-Webster on step

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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