a. The single complete movement of raising one foot and putting it down in another spot, as in walking.
b. A manner of walking; a particular gait.
c. A fixed rhythm or pace, as in marching: keep step.
d. The sound of a footstep.
e. A footprint: steps in the mud.
a. The distance traversed by moving one foot ahead of the other.
b. A very short distance: just a step away.
c. steps Course; path: turned her steps toward home.
3. One of a series of rhythmical, patterned movements of the feet used in a dance: diagrammed the basic steps to the mambo.
a. A rest for the foot in ascending or descending.
b. steps Stairs.
c. Something, such as a ledge or an offset, that resembles a step of a stairway.
d. A low platform used for exercise, as in step aerobics.
a. One of a series of actions, processes, or measures taken to achieve a goal.
b. A stage in a process: followed every step in the instructions.
6. A degree in progress or a grade or rank in a scale: a step up in the corporate hierarchy.
a. The interval that separates two successive tones of a scale, especially a major second, as between C and D in the scale of C major.
b. A degree of a scale.
8. Nautical The block in which the heel of a mast is fixed.
v. stepped, step·ping, steps
1. To put or press the foot: step on the brake.
2. To shift or move slightly by taking a step or two: step back.
3. To walk a short distance to a specified place or in a specified direction: step over to the corner.
4. To move with the feet in a particular manner: step lively.
5. To move into a new situation by or as if by taking a single step: stepping into a life of ease.
6. To treat someone with arrogant indifference: He is always stepping on other people.
v. tr.Phrasal Verbs:
1. To put or set (the foot) down: step foot on land.
2. To measure by pacing: step off ten yards.
3. To furnish with steps; make steps in: terraces that are stepped along the hillside.
4. Computers To cause (a computer) to execute a single instruction.
5. Nautical To place (a mast) in its step.
To resign from a post, especially when being replaced.
1. To resign from a high post.
2. To reduce, especially in stages: stepping down the electric power.
1. To enter into an activity or a situation.
2. To intervene.
1. To walk briskly.
2. To go outside for a short time.
3. Informal To go out for a special evening of entertainment.
4. To withdraw; quit.
1. To increase, especially in stages: step up production.
2. To come forward: step up and be counted.
3. To improve one's performance or take on more responsibility, especially at a crucial time.
1. Moving in rhythm.
2. In conformity with one's environment: in step with the times.
out of step
1. Not moving in rhythm: recruits marching out of step.
2. Not in conformity with one's environment: out of step with the times.
step by step
step on itInformal
To go faster; hurry.
[Middle English, from Old English stæpe, stepe.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.