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Alternative forms[edit]


From stead +‎ -y, calquing Middle Low German or Middle Dutch stēdig. Cognate with West Frisian stadich (slow), Danish stedig, stadig, steeg, Swedish stadig, Icelandic stöðugur, German stätig, stetig.


  • enPR: stĕdʹi, IPA(key): /ˈstɛdi/
  • (dialectal) enPR: stĭdʹi, stŭdʹi, IPA(key): /ˈstɪdi/, /ˈstʌdi/[1]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛdi


steady (comparative steadier, superlative steadiest)

  1. Firm in standing or position; not tottering or shaking; fixed; firm.
    Hold the ladder steady while I go up.
    • a. 1587, Philippe Sidnei [i.e., Philip Sidney], “(please specify the page number)”, in Fulke Greville, Matthew Gwinne, and John Florio, editors, The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia [The New Arcadia], London: [] [John Windet] for William Ponsonbie, published 1590, →OCLC; republished in Albert Feuillerat, editor, The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (Cambridge English Classics: The Complete Works of Sir Philip Sidney; I), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: University Press, 1912, →OCLC:
      Their feet steady, their hands diligent, their eyes watchful, and their hearts resolute.
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], →OCLC:
      But then I had the flintlock by me for protection. ¶ There were giants in the days when that gun was made; for surely no modern mortal could have held that mass of metal steady to his shoulder. The linen-press and a chest on the top of it formed, however, a very good gun-carriage; and, thus mounted, aim could be taken out of the window, [].
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      Captain Edward Carlisle, soldier as he was, martinet as he was, felt a curious sensation of helplessness seize upon him as he met her steady gaze, her alluring smile ; he could not tell what this prisoner might do.
  2. Constant in feeling, purpose, or pursuit; not fickle, changeable, or wavering; not easily moved or persuaded to alter a purpose; resolute.
    a man steady in his principles, in his purpose, or in the pursuit of an object
    • 2003, Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices: Inserts Only, page 10:
      During programmed changes, no steady green signal indication or flashing yellow signal indication shall be terminated and immediately followed by a steady red or flashing red signal indication without first displaying the steady yellow signal []
  3. Smooth and not bumpy or with obstructions.
    a steady ride
  4. Regular and even.
    the steady course of the Sun;  a steady breeze of wind
  5. Slow.



Derived terms[edit]



steady (third-person singular simple present steadies, present participle steadying, simple past and past participle steadied)

  1. (transitive, sometimes figurative) To stabilize; to prevent from shaking.
    I took a drink to steady my nerves.
  2. (intransitive) To become stable.
    • 2010, Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan:
      The ship steadied in the air. Another spray of ballast came, heavier than the last.




  1. (African-American Vernacular) Aspect marker indicating consistency or intensity.
    (The addition of quotations indicative of this usage is being sought:)


steady (plural steadies)

  1. A rest or support, as for the hand, a tool, or a piece of work.
  2. (informal) A regular boyfriend or girlfriend.
    • 2002, Frederick E. Von Burg, Keep My White Sneakers, Kit Carson, iUniverse, →ISBN, page 13:
      “Dalton is my steady, now. If I break up with him, you're the first on the list.” “Thanks,” said Ted. “What a privilege to be second choice.”
  3. (informal) A prostitute's regular customer.
    • 2013, Sheila Foster, Soho Whore:
      Some of my steadies wanted me to go out with them on a date. Occasionally I let one of them take me to a film or out for a meal.


steady (not comparable)

  1. (rowing, informal) To row with pressure at a low stroke-rating, often 18 strokes per minute.
    After the sprint pieces, we rowed steady for the rest of practice.


  1. ^ Stanley, Oma (1937), “I. Vowel Sounds in Stressed Syllables”, in The Speech of East Texas (American Speech: Reprints and Monographs; 2), New York: Columbia University Press, →DOI, →ISBN, § 4, page 13.

Further reading[edit]