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See also: štep, stęp, and step-


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From Middle English steppen, from Old English steppan (to step, go, proceed, advance), stepe (step), from Proto-Germanic *stapjaną (to step), *stapiz (step), from Proto-Indo-European *stÁb-, *stÁbʰ-, *stemb-, *stembʰ- (to support, stomp, curse, be amazed). Cognate with West Frisian stappe (to step), North Frisian stape (to walk, trudge), Dutch stappen (to step, walk), German stapfen (to trudge, stomp, plod). Related to stamp, stomp.



step (plural steps)

  1. An advance or movement made from one foot to the other; a pace.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter III:
      Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:step.
  2. A rest, or one of a set of rests, for the foot in ascending or descending, as a stair, or a rung of a ladder.
    • Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639)
      The breadth of every single step or stair should be never less than one foot.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      One morning I had been driven to the precarious refuge afforded by the steps of the inn, after rejecting offers from the Celebrity to join him in a variety of amusements. But even here I was not free from interruption, for he was seated on a horse-block below me, playing with a fox terrier.
    • 1967, Sleigh, Barbara, Jessamy, 1993 edition, Sevenoaks, Kent: Bloomsbury, ISBN 0 340 19547 9, page 122:
      Through the open front door ran Jessamy, down the steps to where Kitto was sitting at the bottom with the pram beside him.
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:step.
  3. A distinct part of a process; stage; phase.
    He improved step by step, or by steps.
    The first step is to find a job.
  4. A running board where passengers step to get on and off the bus.
    The driver must have a clear view of the step in order to prevent accidents.
  5. The space passed over by one movement of the foot in walking or running.
    One step is generally about three feet, but may be more or less.
    • Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
      To derive two or three general principles of motion from phenomena, and afterwards to tell us how the properties and actions of all corporeal things follow from those manifest principles, would be a very great step in philosophy.
  6. A small space or distance.
    It is but a step.
  7. A print of the foot; a footstep; a footprint; track.
  8. A gait; manner of walking.
    The approach of a man is often known by his step.
  9. Proceeding; measure; action; act.
    • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
      The reputation of a man depends on the first steps he makes in the world.
    • William Cowper (1731-1800)
      Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day, Live till to-morrow, will have passed away.
    • George Washington Cable (1844-1925)
      I have lately taken steps [] to relieve the old gentleman's distresses.
  10. (plural) A walk; passage.
  11. (plural) A portable framework of stairs, much used indoors in reaching to a high position.
  12. (nautical) A framing in wood or iron which is intended to receive an upright shaft; specif., a block of wood, or a solid platform upon the keelson, supporting the heel of the mast.
  13. (machines) One of a series of offsets, or parts, resembling the steps of stairs, as one of the series of parts of a cone pulley on which the belt runs.
  14. (machines) A bearing in which the lower extremity of a spindle or a vertical shaft revolves.
  15. (music) The interval between two contiguous degrees of the scale.
    Usage note: The word tone is often used as the name of this interval; but there is evident incongruity in using tone for indicating the interval between tones. As the word scale is derived from the Italian scala, a ladder, the intervals may well be called steps.
  16. (kinematics) A change of position effected by a motion of translation.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of William Kingdon Clifford to this entry?)
  17. (programming) A constant difference between consecutive values in a series.
    Printing from 0 to 9 with a step of 3 will display 0, 3, 6 and 9.


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Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


step (third-person singular simple present steps, present participle stepping, simple past stepped or (dated) stept or (obsolete) stope, past participle stepped or (dated) stept or (obsolete) stopen)

  1. (intransitive) To move the foot in walking; to advance or recede by raising and moving one of the feet to another resting place, or by moving both feet in succession.
  2. (intransitive) To walk; to go on foot; especially, to walk a little distance.
    • 2013 June 1, “Ideas coming down the track”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 13 (Technology Quarterly):
      A “moving platform” scheme [] is more technologically ambitious than maglev trains even though it relies on conventional rails. Local trains would use side-by-side rails to roll alongside intercity trains and allow passengers to switch trains by stepping through docking bays.
    to step to one of the neighbors
  3. (intransitive) To walk slowly, gravely, or resolutely.
    • Home the swain retreats, His flock before him stepping to the fold.James Thomson
  4. (intransitive, figuratively) To move mentally; to go in imagination.
    • They are stepping almost three thousand years back into the remotest antiquity.Alexander Pope
  5. (transitive) To set, as the foot.
  6. (transitive, nautical) To fix the foot of (a mast) in its step; to erect.
    • 1898, Joseph Conrad, Youth
      We put everything straight, stepped the long-boat's mast for our skipper, who was in charge of her, and I was not sorry to sit down for a moment.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • step in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • step” at OneLook Dictionary Search.


Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: girls · wall · cry · #810: step · turning · village · quickly




Etymology 1[edit]


step f

  1. steppe

Etymology 2[edit]


step m inanimate

  1. tap dance


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Wikipedia pl



step m inan

  1. steppe