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From Middle English fotstep, fotstappe, from Old English *fōtstepe, *fōtstæpe (attested only in derivative fōtstappel (footstep)), equivalent to foot +‎ step. Cognate with Saterland Frisian Foutstappe (footstep), West Frisian fuotstap (footstep), Dutch voetstap (footstep).


  • IPA(key): /ˈfʊtstɛp/
  • Hyphenation: foot‧step
  • (file)


footstep (plural footsteps)

  1. The mark or impression left by a foot; a track.
    The child watched as his footsteps in the sand were washed away by the waves.
  2. By extension, the indications or waypoints of a course or direction taken.
    To walk the footsteps of greatness requires that you start at the bottom of a long stair.
  3. The sound made by walking, running etc.
    The footsteps of the students echoed in the empty hall.
  4. A step, as in a stair.
    The garden path had a small footstep down to the main walkway.
  5. The distance between one foot and the next when walking; a pace.
    Mere footsteps away from the victim lay the murder weapon.
  6. The act of taking a step.
    Take one more footstep towards me, and I'll make you sorry!
    • 1780, William Cowper, “Light Shining out of Darkneſs”, in Twenty-ſix Letters on Religious Subjects [] To which are added Hymns [] [1], fourth edition, page 252:
      God moves in a myſterious way, / His wonders to perform; / He plants his footſteps in the ſea, / And rides upon the ſtorm.
  7. (obsolete) An inclined plane under a hand printing press.


Related terms[edit]


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