Compare Old Frisian stāp ("high, towering"; > Modern Saterland Frisian stiep (“steep”)), Dutch stoop (“grand; proud”), Middle High German stouf (“towering cliff, precipice”), Middle High German stief (“steep”)). The Proto-Indo-European root (and related) has many and varied descendants, including English stub; compare also Scots stap (“to strike, to forcibly insert”).
The sense of “sharp slope” is attested circa 1200; the sense “expensive” is attested US 1856.
- Of a near-vertical gradient; of a slope, surface, curve, etc. that proceeds upward at an angle near vertical.
- a steep hill or mountain; a steep roof; a steep ascent; a steep barometric gradient
- (informal) expensive
- Twenty quid for a shave? That's a bit steep.
- (obsolete) Difficult to access; not easy reached; lofty; elevated; high.
- 1596, George Chapman, De Guiana, carmen Epicum:
- Her ears and thoughts in steep amaze erected
- (of the rake of a ship's mast, or a car's windshield) resulting in a mast or windshield angle that strongly diverges from the perpendicular
- The steep rake of the windshield enhances the fast lines of the exterior.
- (dialectal) brant
steep (plural steeps)
- The steep side of a mountain etc.; a slope or acclivity.
- 1833, Benjamin Disraeli, The Wondrous Tale of Alroy:
- It ended precipitously in a dark and narrow ravine, formed on the other side by an opposite mountain, the lofty steep of which was crested by a city gently rising on a gradual slope
From Middle English stepen, from Old Norse steypa (“to make stoop, cast down, pour out, cast (metal)”), from Proto-Germanic *staupijaną (“to tumble, make tumble, plunge”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)tewb- (“to push, hit”). Cognate with Danish støbe (“cast (metal)”), Norwegian støpe, støype, Swedish stöpa (“to found, cast (metal)”), Old English stūpian (“to stoop, bend the back, slope”). Doublet of stoop.
- (transitive, middle) To soak or wet thoroughly.
- They steep skins in a tanning solution to create leather.
- The tea is steeping.
- 1820, William Wordsworth, Composed at Cora Linn, in sight of Wallace's Tower:
- In refreshing dews to steep / The little, trembling flowers.
- (intransitive, figurative) To imbue with something; to be deeply immersed in.
- a town steeped in history
- 1871, John Earle, The Philology of the English Tongue:
- The learned of the nation were steeped in Latin.
- To make tea (or other beverage) by placing leaves in hot water.