Definition of step in English:

step

noun

  • 1An act or movement of putting one leg in front of the other in walking or running.

    ‘Ron took a step back’
    ‘she turned and retraced her steps’
    • ‘By 1946 he could only get around by taking taxi rides, a few steps would make him short of breath.’
    • ‘The bleachers echoed in the distance from our rough steps.’
    • ‘The pigeon took a couple of steps to the side, and then turned himself round to look behind him.’
    • ‘She made her way across the massive Headmaster's office, taking slow, calm steps to the door.’
    • ‘She closed the distance in a few steps and turned around.’
    • ‘May took her arm, and they began to walk with small steps towards the exit.’
    • ‘Make your advances and retreats take as little time as possible, even if this means taking shorter steps.’
    • ‘Chad made it to the door in a few short and choppy steps, and yanked it open.’
    • ‘He then proceeded taking the few steps towards the massive front doors of the palace, which slowly opened, as he got nearer.’
    • ‘And she doesn't even have to move much, just a quick twist or a step away is all she needs.’
    • ‘There was some falling and some grabbing at us, but pretty quickly he'd managed to take a couple of successful steps.’
    • ‘The waiter took a short step backwards, the cheese bowl clattered on the table’
    • ‘But when I walk out from the shore, tiny purple crabs run for cover at my first step.’
    • ‘I remember, as a very young boy, seeing the headlines, and amazing photos, of Neil Armstrong taking those first steps on the surface of the moon.’
    • ‘Clip it on, and then track steps taken, miles covered, and calories burned.’
    • ‘I took a couple of tentative steps inside, when the door suddenly slammed behind me.’
    • ‘He took short shuffling steps and shook his considerable bulk with each one.’
    • ‘Slowly, he strolls away from his house in the direction of Third Street, turning his head every couple of steps.’
    • ‘He took a slow step backward, and then fell flat onto his back.’
    • ‘Then retrace your steps for a short distance and turn left.’
    pace, footstep, stride
    footstep, footfall, tread, tramp
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The distance covered by a step.
      ‘Richard came a couple of steps nearer’
      • ‘Moving back a few steps, Christian geared himself up and made a run for the door, hitting it against his shoulder.’
      • ‘We were overwhelmed and forced a couple of steps backwards as the hordes flooded past us.’
      • ‘Her entire body shaking, feet suddenly heavy, she struggled to walk the few steps to the front of the house.’
      • ‘The effect is so unsettling that I stumble back a couple of steps.’
      • ‘Maggie looked over at Jen and got up, quickly covering the few steps to gently embrace her daughter.’
      • ‘These are used to determine trip lengths in time and distance in subsequent steps.’
      • ‘Michael managed to shuffle a couple of steps to his right and get one arm back inside the building.’
      • ‘The person was made to carry a bag on his or her back a certain distance, sometimes three steps or across three thresholds.’
      • ‘He stopped just a few steps short of leaving this apartment, possibly forever.’
      • ‘Gradually move the starting distances back a couple of steps at a time.’
      • ‘We have a man always on the scene, never, never more than a step away from instantaneously covering a story.’
      • ‘I was only a couple of steps away, but something below me, at about waist level, was blocking my way.’
      • ‘De Vere backed up several steps toward the side staircase.’
      • ‘This isn't really a weblog, but it's only a couple of steps removed from one.’
      • ‘I would walk three big steps towards the mat, and then jump as high as I could.’
    2. 1.2usually in singular A person's particular way of walking.
      ‘she left the room with a springy step’
      • ‘They were not long in coming, and the quick light step of Mel was followed by the slow tread of Bridget.’
      • ‘As I walked up the stairs I slowed my steps, smiling at the echo of the staircase.’
      • ‘The floor was covered in thick, burgundy carpet, which seemed to add an extra spring to one's step.’
      • ‘Nowadays, there is a new spring in the step of Clare folk, new talk of a new team, a new manager, a new era.’
      • ‘It was not just the prospect of receiving a spanking-new car that put a spring in the step.’
      • ‘That is why, judging by the spring in the step of the Feel-Goods, it will take more than another quarter point rise in rates to spoil their mood.’
      • ‘This is not a recipe for a sunny visage and a spring in the step.’
      • ‘Life had to be faced head-on and, that too with a spring in the step!’
      • ‘We set off with a springing step - me particularly - as I had left most of the contents of my small pack at the hut.’
      • ‘There was a spring in the step of mums and their toddlers at a Bexleyheath playgroup.’
      • ‘To me he appeared to have grown less springy of step, heavier in body, less keen of eye.’
      • ‘Men whose step has slowed are thinking of boys they knew when they were boys together.’
      • ‘It's put a little spring in my step knowing that sport can do that to a couple of countries that haven't been getting on so well.’
      • ‘Whatever it is, it works beautifully and is sure to put a spring in anyone's step.’
      • ‘Since he took on his role at the end of last year, he has been saying things which have put a new spring in the step of anti-grammar school campaigners.’
      • ‘The second half had to be better and thankfully there was an extra spring in City's step when they came out.’
      • ‘There is a definite spring in the step of Jim as he continues his canvass of the constituency.’
      • ‘There is a spring in the step as the city grooves to a new beat.’
      • ‘You get an air of invincibility about you and that, as much as any training, puts a spring back in the step.’
      • ‘Between the milk and the caffeine it puts a spring in your step.’
      gait, walk, way of walking, tread, bearing, carriage
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Each of the sequences of movement of the feet which make up a dance.
      • ‘So it's especially hard to believe that she once found it difficult to do a dance step and snap her fingers at the same time.’
      • ‘After that, they chose and combined the movements with modern dance steps.’
      • ‘Learning hula steps and motions and dancing every day is a great way to keep a body flexible while enjoying Hawaiian music.’
      • ‘My ladies and I were having a wonderful afternoon, practicing dance steps.’
      • ‘At first, the image of Astaire trying to acclimate to the unusual steps of Indian dance is humorous.’
      • ‘It hadn't taken Todd long to pick up on the dance steps; to Rachel's surprise Todd had a knack for dancing.’
      • ‘I have monitored the progress of modern dance steps over the past three decades.’
      • ‘She has even mastered some ballroom dance steps, which form part of the choreographed routines for the show.’
      • ‘While Williams made her way brilliantly through its forest of steps, the dance was more demanding than affecting.’
      • ‘They did this all in slow motion, slowly and carefully, as if learning all the steps to a dance routine.’
      • ‘They are imitating the complex dance steps and hand jives that the group perform in their videos.’
      • ‘The pace is fast and the choreography can be tricky, with steps and arm movements often deliberately at odds with each other.’
      • ‘Importantly, during her explanation, she demonstrates dance steps that convey events in the narrative.’
      • ‘A ‘hyperactive’ only child, she would spend her time milking her parents' cows and practising her ballet steps.’
      • ‘In a technical and physical challenge, the dancers perform Peking opera gestures and movements at the same time as they dance ballet steps.’
      • ‘He has also written concert music that's spacious and flows without a step being danced to it.’
      • ‘On the other hand, she notes that the women are now doing her steps, her choreography.’
      • ‘You cannot experience the dance just by knowing the sequence of steps.’
      • ‘He coped well with his large assortment of jumping steps, as well as multiple pirouettes which were all danced with ease.’
      • ‘The choir holds dance workshops and steps are choreographed as a group.’
      metre, cadence, rhythm, foot
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 A short or easily walked distance.
      ‘the market is only a short step from the lake’
      short distance, stone's throw, spitting distance
      View synonyms
  • 2A flat surface, especially one in a series, on which to place one's foot when moving from one level to another.

    ‘the bottom step of the staircase’
    ‘a flight of marble steps’
    • ‘She took her daughter's carrier out of the car and handed it to Lara so she could grab the bags and walk up the three steps to the front porch.’
    • ‘The first thing we both did when we got back was make a beeline for the staircase, each of us putting a foot on the bottom step at the same time.’
    • ‘Before James got suspicious, I got out of the car and walked up towards the front steps as the last bus rolled away.’
    • ‘The sound of someone moving noisily up the steps attracted Margaret's attention.’
    • ‘Aidan was the first to climb up the small steps to the upper level.’
    • ‘At exactly six-thirty that evening, I walked up the steps of Lydia's front porch to ring her doorbell.’
    • ‘Amanda nervously walked up the front steps of the twins' large house.’
    • ‘Wendy saw Dr. Maddox out of the corner of her eye at the bottom step of a stairway leading to a second floor.’
    • ‘I carried the plastic tray with the curried cheese pieces down the steps to the basement, a glass of milk held in the crook of my arm.’
    • ‘They walked up the steps and paused in front of a wooden door that appeared, to Justin at least, very menacing and inhibiting.’
    • ‘Milo moved in for one last kiss, then he turned and walked down the porch steps, moving towards his car.’
    • ‘I walked up the front steps to our house, carrying my bag behind me.’
    • ‘Ahead, at the end of the path, steps led up to double doors standing open.’
    • ‘There is an extensive lawn to the rear laid out over two levels with steps leading up to a hard tennis court.’
    • ‘Cut into the granite is a steep, gradually narrowing staircase, with some steps almost one foot high.’
    • ‘This is fitted with wall to wall wardrobes and is also partially split level, with steps leading to the en suite shower room.’
    • ‘My pool had steps instead of ladders, so you didn't really have to climb.’
    • ‘When I opened the door, Kay was sitting on the bottom step of the grand staircase.’
    • ‘She didn't have the opportunity to read his expression for long either as he turned and marched across the yard and up the steps to his flat.’
    • ‘The café is on two levels separated by shallow steps.’
    stair, tread, tread board
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    1. 2.1 A doorstep.
      ‘there was a pint of milk on the step’
      • ‘He turned onto his front step, then decided against it and walked along the driveway to the carport.’
      • ‘Milk bottles were still on the step and the dogs and sheep had not been fed.’
      • ‘At Lowther Drive it was a similar story at 10am as front gardens were flooded and water inched towards peoples' front steps.’
      doorstep, sill
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 A rung of a ladder.
      • ‘I climbed down the steps of my ladder after shoving my new diary under my mattress.’
      • ‘He jumps down, missing the last three steps of the ladder and landing right behind her.’
      • ‘She screeched as she held on to one of the steps of the steel ladder.’
      rung, tread
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3British A stepladder.
      ‘the steps are in the outhouse’
      • ‘He listed a couple of folding camp chairs, a pair of steps, and a number of coats hanging up.’
      • ‘He raced to the home of Mrs Caulfield's sister where he also found Mr Caulfield collapsed under a pair of steps.’
    4. 2.4mass noun Step aerobics.
      as modifier ‘a step class’
      • ‘The Tuesday class is step and toning and Thursdays class will be a total body workout.’
      • ‘You might want to try putting a few days between your strength training and step workouts.’
      • ‘This works well with all kinds of group exercise classes, not just step.’
      • ‘While increasing the tempo in your step class may augment intensity, it can also increase the risk of injury.’
      • ‘Another benefit: step plus resistance means fewer trips to the gym for separate sessions.’
      • ‘The muscular contractions it takes to smile are akin to putting your facial muscles through a 45-minute step class.’
      • ‘We have had special step classes put on so we could get the hang of it all quicker!’
      • ‘Gyms schedule tai chi and yoga instruction in addition to the more traditional aerobics and step classes.’
      • ‘This class is for ladies only and includes step aerobics, weights, stretching, etc.’
      • ‘The Tuesday class is step and abdominals while the Thursday class is a total body workout.’
      • ‘He indulged in boxing and martial arts, taught aerobics and step classes, and enjoyed running.’
      • ‘In a step class, the calorie burn correlates in part with step height.’
      • ‘I frequently see women at my gym take two spinning or step classes in a row.’
      • ‘With just a few months to go, Annie is preparing for the trip by walking and taking up step classes at her local gym.’
      • ‘I was keen on joining because of all the classes, but I've only ever done one - step - on the first weekend it was open.’
    5. 2.5climbing A foothold cut in a slope of ice.
  • 3A measure or action, especially one of a series taken in order to deal with or achieve a particular thing.

    ‘the government must take steps to discourage age discrimination’
    ‘a major step forward in the fight for justice’
    • ‘For the author whose literary career began on a slow train to Manchester, it was a huge step.’
    • ‘So for a president contemplating his place in American history, there is currently no strong pressure to take bold steps.’
    • ‘Once you have identified slow code, the next step is to address those issues.’
    • ‘The unit have now provided employers with information about how to carry out assessments and practical steps to reduce sound levels.’
    • ‘He said the company was currently investigating whether steps could be taken to inform former members of staff of the situation.’
    • ‘But people are taking steps beyond moving cows or horses out of harms way.’
    • ‘My plan was moving a little quicker than anticipated so I decided to take things slow after the next step.’
    • ‘He said the defendant made out a number of cheques in various sums which he cashed for himself and then took steps to cover his tracks.’
    • ‘He said he was pleased the officers had taken steps to protect shoppers who spend hard-earned cash on poor-quality fakes.’
    • ‘The anti-begging campaign comes as York's city centre manager takes steps to identify legitimate buskers.’
    • ‘Such reports have declined in recent years as industry has taken steps to reduce formaldehyde levels.’
    • ‘We extend best wishes this week to a local couple taking the big step.’
    • ‘U.S. presidents knew about UFO crash retrievals right from the start and took steps to cover up the evidence.’
    • ‘The first step was to level the area where the gazebo would be located and set the support columns in concrete.’
    • ‘The next step is to add milk but milk is dangerous and the date stamps are often confusing.’
    • ‘It was at this point that he took the bold step of moving to Iwama.’
    • ‘He checks his high blood sugar level daily and takes steps to control it, using insulin injections, diet and exercise.’
    • ‘The lender should also be ashamed that it took no effective steps to help the couple.’
    • ‘However, council bosses stressed that year-on-year benefits processing was improving thanks to the steps taken by management.’
    • ‘After such an emergency you would want to ensure steps were taken to cover such emergencies in future.’
    course of action, measure, move, act, action, procedure, proceeding, initiative
    take action, take measures, act, take the initiative, move
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 A stage in a gradual process.
      ‘sales are up, which is a step in the right direction’
      • ‘Myself, I believe that legalising cannabis will be just another step closer to losing the battle with class A drug abuse.’
      • ‘Strike action on Scotland's railways came a step closer yesterday after the main union rejected an above inflation pay rise.’
      • ‘I'm always a step ahead of the musicians - I'm showing them where the music needs to go and why.’
      • ‘We can do finer and finer grain experiments, but at each step of the way, is not our best model one which is digital?’
      • ‘They determine the steps of the interaction process that are supposed to lead to consensus between the agents.’
      • ‘Using several drugs to block HIV at different steps of its life cycle is more effective than any one medication.’
      • ‘Once their physical wounds are healed, the next logical step for the women will be justice.’
      • ‘The next step is for the horse to learn how to go slower and collect from the leg - and thus truly accept the leg.’
      • ‘Campaigners claim the final deal will actually mark a step backwards from the position before the summit started.’
      • ‘It felt like the first step on a slippery slope to mounting debt.’
      • ‘Therefore, the government will proceed with the next step of the recall process.’
      • ‘If this is true, then we expect to find traces of intermediate steps of this turnover process within these regions.’
      • ‘She is proud of her accomplishments, and positive about the next step of the campaign, but even she did not get the answers she was seeking.’
      • ‘They want it over and done with so that they can get on with the next step of their rebuilding process.’
      • ‘It surely didn't happen overnight, and as near as I can determine, it came in several, very gradual steps.’
      • ‘Today Britain's railways are a step closer to being run by and for the nation.’
      • ‘The next step involves the external fitting of the safety, beavertail and mainspring housing.’
      • ‘The sound of piped classical music floating through the air at a Billericay Railway Station is a step closer following a donation by local councillors.’
      • ‘Purists, however, might regard arranging a Schubert string quartet for chamber orchestra as a step too far.’
      • ‘The main purpose of our work was to study the initial alignment of cell membranes to foreign surfaces as an early step of adhesion.’
      advance, progression, development, step in the right direction, step forward, move, movement
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    2. 3.2 A particular position or grade on an ascending or hierarchical scale.
      ‘the first step on the managerial ladder’
      • ‘Second, clerical work no longer served as the first step on the ladder into management.’
      • ‘He eventually reached Premier One division, just a step below professional level.’
      • ‘The spiralling cost of property has also meant that, for young families, this is usually the first step on the property ladder.’
      • ‘Her successor says beatification, the step just short of sainthood, will be important not just for her order.’
      • ‘At least I knew and understood where I stood with men; namely several steps further down the ladder.’
      • ‘Indeed, in many cultures to be a musician is just a few steps above a beggar.’
      • ‘No-one was sponsoring me for this race and it is merely the first step on the ladder to the big one.’
      • ‘A first home is a step on the ladder, it's never the end goal or the dream home, and is rarely where you'd genuinely like it to be.’
      • ‘I had good management, good coaching, it improved my game and put me on the first step on the ladder I suppose.’
      • ‘The thrust of the report is that existing housing policy does not come anywhere near meeting demand for an affordable first step on the ownership ladder.’
      • ‘The fact is, every mentally capable person looks at entry-level jobs as a first step on the economic ladder.’
      • ‘But you can't rest on your laurels - you must create your CV to get yourself on the next step of the ladder.’
      • ‘I also met with scores of Iraqis from all steps of the socioeconomic ladder and all of the major ethnic and religious groups.’
      stage, level, grade, rank, degree
      View synonyms
  • 4North American Music
    An interval in a scale; a tone (whole step) or semitone (half step).

    • ‘This scale divides the octave into six equal steps, each a whole tone apart.’
  • 5Physics
    An abrupt change in the value of a quantity, especially voltage.

    • ‘Excitation of a suspension of such vesicles with a flash of light generated a voltage step across the membrane.’
    • ‘Single channel responses to voltage steps were simulated using the Noise Simulation program.’
    • ‘At 0 mV, sparks appeared at the beginning of the voltage step with a probability of unity.’
    • ‘The ionization step needed to create an ultracold plasma is performed using nanosecond laser pulses.’
    • ‘It is possible that each of two generators produces a spark at the same time during a voltage step.’
  • 6A block fixed to a boat's keel in order to take the base of a mast or other fitting.

    • ‘The hull was modified in 1995 to include two ventilated steps, a keel pad and notched transom.’

Phrases

  • break step

    • Stop walking or marching in step with others.

      ‘they walked past me without even breaking step’
      • ‘Then they break step and disperse over Southwark Bridge, chatting and slouching.’
      • ‘Passers-by in this northern suburb in the foothills of Iran's Elborz Mountains are few, and most walk past without breaking step.’
      • ‘They were all of different heights and strides yet they never broke step.’
      • ‘Neither of them broke step as they walked with their heads up but eyes down.’
  • fall into step

    • Change the way one is walking so that one is walking in step with another person.

      ‘Paul fell into step beside Bill’
      • ‘He fell into step beside me and we walked on in silence.’
      • ‘Christie nodded, and I fell into step beside her as we walked down the hallway.’
      • ‘After school, he came up to me as I was walking home, and fell into step beside me.’
      • ‘Nick waited for the rest of them to walk past him and fell into step with Crystal.’
      • ‘He fell into step beside me and took my hand as we walked to our classes.’
      • ‘‘Hey Jen,’ he says with a smile, and falls into step beside me as I walk down the hall to Calculus.’
      • ‘I started walking back up along the trail, and Butler fell into step beside me.’
      • ‘Interested, I fell into step behind them as they walked.’
      • ‘Maria nodded slowly, and then fell into step beside us.’
      • ‘He slowly opened his eyes as he walked forward, falling into step beside his sister.’
  • in (or out of) step

    • 1Putting (or not putting) one's feet forward alternately in the same rhythm as the people one is walking, marching, or dancing with.

      • ‘We headed back up the stairs, then once outside the Media Center, we somehow managed to all start walking side-by-side, in step - it was slightly disturbing.’
      • ‘Among the delegates were German veterans and blind ones from France; some of the vets, protesting the political and military madness of the First World War, refused to march in step.’
      • ‘Nowadays, players are slouching, walking out of step, and passing around water bottles.’
      • ‘I heard no distinct word as I passed but a few minutes later when they arose, clasped hands and walked away perfectly in step with one another, I breathed a sigh of relief for them.’
      • ‘Even the guys who were in the class were in step and in rhythm!’
      • ‘Many now in their 80s, they marched in step, medals glinting in the sun at the end of a long, hot day.’
      • ‘Twenty-one young children from the local schools marched in step, each child carrying a rose.’
      • ‘Protectively placing an arm around his mother's shoulders, Michael walks in step with her to the drawing room.’
      • ‘At one point, young Erin hurried forward to march in step with the Captain.’
      • ‘Walking down the street beside him, you would notice from time to time his nimble little skip as he changed feet to keep in step.’
      1. 1.1Conforming (or not conforming) to what others are doing or thinking.
        ‘the party is clearly out of step with voters’
        • ‘The ordinary American continues to be splendidly out of step with the Chattering Classes.’
        • ‘At present, they are all out of step with the vast majority of British people.’
        • ‘For too long Glasgow has been out of step with the rest of Scotland which complies far more readily with copyright law.’
        • ‘Are they going to boot him out of office if he doesn't march in step?’
        • ‘The problem with that, of course, is that those opposition parties are out of step with 82 percent of New Zealanders.’
        • ‘The ethnic make-up of Woolwich will certainly put that shop out of step with the local community.’
        • ‘If his vanity premiership gets too far out of step with what the party wants, he won't get the chance to serve a full term.’
        • ‘It has also given the impression that Britain is acting detrimentally to the general European interest and is the only country marching out of step.’
        • ‘England remained out of step with Europe, at least those countries that were Catholic, for more than 200 years and during that time grew to be the most powerful and commercially prosperous nation on earth.’
        • ‘That's where art was heading, so he was a little out of step with the intellectual movement.’
        in accord, in harmony, in agreement, in tune, in line, in keeping, in conformity, in accordance, in consensus, in consilience
        at odds, at variance, in disagreement, out of tune, out of line, not in keeping, out of harmony, at loggerheads, in opposition, at outs
        View synonyms
      2. 1.2(of two or more oscillations or other cyclic phenomena) having (or not having) the same frequency and always in the same phase.
        ‘many oscillations trace out the same pattern but necessarily in step’
        • ‘Over time, the quantum waves that accompany the different flavors get out of step, and an electron neutrino seems to morph into a muon neutrino or a tau neutrino and back again.’
        • ‘But if the second note is sharpened slightly, say to 445 Hz, a note of some intermediate pitch is heard that pulsates in loudness as the peaks and troughs of the two waves drift in and out of step.’
        • ‘If they are in step (in phase, the physicists say), then crest coincides constructively with crest, giving maximum mutual reinforcement.’
        • ‘In that case, when the length of one of the arms changes the tiniest bit, the beams will be more in step and produce some light when combined.’
  • follow (or tread) in someone's steps

    • Do as someone else did, especially in making a journey or following a career.

      ‘many of these youngsters hoped to follow in the steps of Gascoigne’
      • ‘The junior race sees six thousand young people taking part in the biggest junior event in the UK, raising hopes that a new crop of champion distance runners will follow in Paula Radcliffe's steps.’
      • ‘You must learn that I will not follow in your steps.’
      • ‘Patsy followed in Larry's steps and made a life in the land down-under, also in Perth, with his wife Blanche.’
      • ‘Poland is a significant wine consumer, too, and the Czech Republic has been following in its steps for the past two years.’
      • ‘A large number of scholars followed in their steps and adhered to their tradition.’
      • ‘Now, in cities everywhere there are restaurants following in Alice's steps, providing a market for more and more local producers.’
      • ‘I thought: does this mean he will follow in Howard's steps if elected?’
      • ‘This is the type of enthusiastic striving that gives flavour to to life and motivates others to follow in our steps.’
      • ‘It will be a record because no-one else has done it and there are no plans for anyone else to follow in his steps.’
      • ‘We can thank Dr Henry Morris and others who have followed in his steps for this.’
      emulate, copy, take as a model, model oneself on, take as a pattern, pattern oneself after, pattern oneself on, follow the example of, take as an example, take as a role model, take after, follow, follow in someone's footsteps, follow in someone's steps
      View synonyms
  • keep step

    • Remain walking, marching, or dancing in step.

      ‘they marched up and down the parade ground, keeping step with the regimental band’
      • ‘I started to speed up my step as well and Ben in turn tried to keep step with me.’
      • ‘And if a company's biggest threat is keeping step with competitors and getting a product to market within six months, then spending money on disaster recovery might even be an imprudent use of resources.’
      • ‘And he definitely didn't notice the figure keeping step with him, watching him curiously.’
      • ‘We have to change the interpretation of the rules to keep step with market forces.’
      • ‘However, Jude had an infuriating way of keeping step with her.’
      • ‘Trade in bulk goods will tend to keep step with the boundaries of military-political interaction, but luxury trade can easily outpace them.’
      • ‘What's more, the tomography must be able to keep step with the production cycle.’
      • ‘He may be tall and a little lanky and have a propensity to put his foot in it but when it comes to keeping step on a fast paced political dance floor, Bobby didn't miss a beat.’
      • ‘With the regimentation of battle tactics and the increasing importance of the need to keep step, drummers became an essential part of European armies.’
      • ‘Weak as my limbs were I managed to keep step with Nick, though I believe he purposely slowed his pace to accommodate me.’
  • mind (or watch) one's step

    • Used as a warning to someone to walk or act carefully.

      ‘you'd better watch your step with him—he's not as innocent as he looks’
      ‘mind your step—the path's a bit steep’
      • ‘They know it is an environment where you have to watch your step.’
      • ‘Tanya went down the stairs, watching her step carefully.’
      • ‘When walking, however much you love the city, watch your step as well as looking up at the buildings’
      • ‘I walk down the hall watching my step so I don't bump into anyone and turn into the next corridor; the food court lies ahead.’
      • ‘The best way to describe it is to say that it feels like walking on a small boat - you have to watch your step and sometimes you feel sick.’
      • ‘I guess I'll just have to watch my step extra carefully, especially when it come to Annette.’
      • ‘Who were you thinking of instead of watching your step, Evie?’
      • ‘If you don't obey the higher law of prudence by watching your step on an icy day, you will be compelled to obey the lower law of gravity.’
      • ‘And should such claims be advanced, what other social contracts and vows might be up for re-examination, what other unrewarding social institutions would have to start watching their step?’
      • ‘It's the defense's job to make sure that the prosecution watch their boundaries, watches their step.’
      be careful, take care, step carefully, step cautiously, walk carefully, walk cautiously, tread carefully, tread cautiously, exercise care, exercise caution, mind how one goes, look out, watch out, watch oneself, be wary, be circumspect, be chary, take heed, be attentive, be on one's guard, have one's wits about one, keep one's wits about one, be on the qui vive
      View synonyms
  • one step ahead

    • Managing to avoid competition or danger from someone or something.

      ‘I try to keep one step ahead of the rest of the staff’
      • ‘At the end of the day, in our attempt to go one step ahead, we have ended up two steps behind.’
      • ‘In the good old days, organised crime figures in the United States were cagey, one step ahead of the law at every turn.’
      • ‘Julie, a trainee nurse, is already one step ahead of her husband, having taken part in a similar ladies-only event.’
      • ‘We need to be proactive, one step ahead of the competition - an international leader.’
      • ‘That policy is all part of his drive to stay one step ahead.’
      • ‘With the new press in full operation, Stewart is now turning his mind to his next investment in his bid to stay one step ahead of the competition.’
      • ‘Against these diminishing odds, Jake and his crew must stay one step ahead of both the criminals and the cops to finally settle their debt.’
      • ‘Indeed, for much of the film Kenny's strategizing seems to be one step ahead of the others.’
      • ‘It was also a race to keep one step ahead of the game.’
      • ‘Wherever I go, church-wise, I always seem to be one step ahead in vision or desire of where the church is at.’
  • one (or a) step at a time

    • So as to progress gradually and carefully from one stage to the next.

      ‘he's taking everything one step at a time’
      • ‘I want to take things one step at a time.’
      • ‘If he is to resurrect his career, he will need to take it one step at a time.’
      • ‘My advice to anyone taking on a project like this is to take it a step at a time.’
      • ‘For me, this is just another competition, and I have to take everything one step at a time.’
      • ‘The successful add-ons were built one step at a time.’
      • ‘I've always taken my career one step at a time.’
      • ‘It seems like a long, drawn out process, but if you take things a step at a time, you should be able to create something that you will be able to proudly say you did yourself.’
  • one step forward and two steps back

    • Used to describe a situation in which any progress made is counterbalanced by much greater setbacks.

      ‘with corporate reform it is a case of one step forward and two steps back’
      • ‘It will take time but as soldiers we understand sometimes you take one step forward and two steps back.’
      • ‘Until the last few weeks I thought things had got better but it seems we take one step forward and two steps back.’
      • ‘Whenever you're developing a particular area of your game, sometimes it is one step forward and two steps back.’
      • ‘It really seems like one step forward and two steps back in looking at our past efforts.’
      • ‘This isn't always the case but it is wise to remember that tweaking hi-fi can sometimes be a case of one step forward and two steps back.’
      • ‘His recent promotion represents progress for a sport that too often takes one step forward and two steps back.’
      • ‘Each day, football goes one step forward and two steps back because of football officials who disregard the basic rules of the game.’
      • ‘Nothing worked, and we spent two decades taking one step forward and two steps back.’
  • step by step

    • So as to progress gradually and carefully from one stage to the next.

      ‘I'll explain it to you step by step’
      as modifier ‘a step-by-step guide’
      • ‘He guides you step by step through comprehensive and easy to follow instructions.’
      • ‘Your mind and body will find it a lot easier to receive the changes if you make them step by step rather than all in one go in the hope that they will fit together nicely in the swing.’
      • ‘Now in a step by step guide, I'll show you how I can achieve this.’
      • ‘She loved pranks, but they had to be carefully planned out, step by step, whereas he just did it.’
      • ‘The exhibits suggested ways and means to reduce weight step by step.’
      • ‘The software contains lesson plans, which enable the teacher to cover each of these elements step by step.’
      • ‘And it lays out step by step what was done to assemble this bomb and deliver this bomb.’
      • ‘Sarah has written a book about their experiences with a step by step guide for people wanting to do it themselves.’
      • ‘Pat got right down to business, taking the group step by step through the fundamentals of writing poetry.’
      • ‘They followed this step by step guide to equipment and software applications at their own speed.’
      one step at a time, bit by bit, gradually, in stages, by degrees, slowly, steadily, slowly but surely
      View synonyms
  • step into someone's shoes

    • Take control of a task or job from another person.

      ‘he failed to notice the ambitious young men waiting to step into his shoes’
      • ‘As soon as my father was gone, Nick stepped into his shoes.’
      • ‘He stepped into her shoes once before, when she had to pull out due to family crises.’
      • ‘The man stepping into his shoes, however, is no shadowy unknown.’
      • ‘Over the past few years we have managed to put about half-a-dozen dealers behind bars but there are always successors ready to step into their shoes.’
      • ‘Who has the authority, the sheer gravitas, to step into his shoes?’
      • ‘House sitters not only help deter your home from being the target of a burglary, but they step into your shoes and take care of the small things on a day to day basis.’
      • ‘Later this month he steps into Gene Kelly's shoes in the £500,000 stage version of Oscar winning film, ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre.’
      • ‘He has already stepped into Kenyon 's shoes once before, replacing him as deputy chief executive three years ago.’
      • ‘But this week, the majority of those drivers returned to their posts and learner drivers did not step into their shoes as intended.’
      • ‘She may be stepping into Boyle's shoes, but she won't be taking his revolutionary approach.’
      deputize, act, act as deputy, substitute, act as substitute, act as stand-in, fill in, sit in, do duty, take over, act as understudy, act as locum, do a locum, be a proxy, cover, provide cover, hold the fort, step into the breach
      View synonyms
  • step on it

    • informal Go faster, typically in a motor vehicle.

      ‘if we don't step on it, the pub will have closed for the afternoon’
      • ‘The driver seemed to be really stepping on it as the bus gained speed very fast.’
      • ‘Our hero stepped on it and took us all on a high speed chase.’
      • ‘You begin at a dead stop, cop cars piled up maybe eleven inches off your rear bumper waiting patiently for you to step on it and try to make a getaway.’
      hurry up, get a move on, speed up, go faster, be quick
      View synonyms
  • step out of line

    • Behave inappropriately or disobediently.

      ‘if you step out of line once more you're fired!’
      • ‘Stevens will now have to watch his back as hundreds of leaflets bearing his face, name and the areas he is banned from, are distributed by police so residents can report him if he steps out of line.’
      • ‘The first is the drill-sergeant type of manager who believes regimented procedure is the best method to ensure no player steps out of line.’
      • ‘They taught me to let people know when they step out of line.’
      • ‘There would have been a massive fine if anyone was found to have stepped out of line in the way of drinking and fighting.’
      • ‘Now at least we will all know if she steps out of line and how to take action.’
      • ‘Now while the arrest numbers are high, police really showing a zero tolerance attitude for anybody who steps out of line.’
      • ‘Players are so in fear of stepping out of line off the pitch they are far from relaxed by the time they step onto it.’
      • ‘We've encouraged the Environment Agency to be tight in their management of what's going on and I know they will act if the company steps out of line.’
      • ‘If a player steps out of line then he gets hauled over the coals.’
      • ‘If your boy steps out of line, do not reason or cajole.’
  • step up to the plate

    • Take action in response to an opportunity or crisis.

      • ‘The president has boldly stepped up to the plate.’
      • ‘Make sure your congressman steps up to the plate.’
      • ‘I've really stepped up to the plate on this album.’
      • ‘The federal authorities need to step up to the plate and face their responsibility.’
      • ‘They're great Americans and they're stepping up to the plate.’
      • ‘And we want people stepping up to the plate to be vaccinated if they're in a priority group.’
      • ‘And we have a very important role to play, but are just so grateful with everyone who's stepping up to the plate to contribute their assets to help with the problem.’
      • ‘It's everyone's responsibility to step up to the plate and strive to get what they want while giving others what they want in return.’
      • ‘The space program is in complete disarray and no one is stepping up to the plate and trying to find a solution.’
      • ‘However, the association also demanded that the government play a role in the consumer crisis, and openly chided it for not stepping up to the plate.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • step aside

    • Withdraw or resign from an important position or office.

      ‘he has stepped aside as adviser to both firms’
  • step back

    • Mentally withdraw from a situation in order to consider it objectively.

      ‘I have had to step back and take an honest look at my way of working’
      • ‘It's about time somebody took a few steps back and realised what country is.’
      • ‘We are uncomfortable with slow things because we have to step back and consider them.’
      • ‘He couldn't help stepping back and looking at the absurdity of his situation.’
      • ‘M does not step back far enough to allow us to consider the significance of sex as interaction.’
      • ‘Do you ever feel like stepping back, reviewing what's going on?’
      • ‘Think about how difficult it is for some couples to step back from passion to consider contraception.’
      • ‘Not once did he step back to draw together various pieces and put them into a single theory.’
      • ‘To do this as a nation, we have to step back and view the situation in its totality.’
      • ‘Over at The Globe and Mail, Kate Taylor steps back and takes a look at the book reviewing debate.’
      • ‘Maybe if you step back from the situation and see it from a rational point of view you might see that things are not as bad as they seem.’
  • step down

    • Withdraw or resign from an important position or office.

      ‘he stepped down as party leader’
      • ‘He had to step down from the position because of the closure of the shipyards.’
      • ‘Over the next few days he will have to step down from his various positions on SFA committees.’
      • ‘All year Daly had intimated that he was ready to step down and last night reports of his resignation did not come as any surprise.’
      • ‘James has since said he would be stepping down later this year from his position.’
      • ‘Last night he decided to step down from his position rather than follow his party's line.’
      • ‘They have been sounded but refused to step down from their respective offices.’
      • ‘He announced he was stepping down to accept a law school position in California.’
      • ‘He stepped down from office in May this year, ending his second spell as Tory group leader on Doncaster Council.’
      • ‘The real test of a democracy is when an office holder loses an election and steps down.’
      • ‘I remember the day he told me that he was stepping down from that position.’
      resign, stand down, give up one's job, give up one's post, bow out
      View synonyms
  • step something down

    • Decrease voltage by using a transformer.

      • ‘In this case, the supply provides 12V DC power to the case, which has a small internal regulator to step the voltage down to 3.3V and 5V as needed.’
      • ‘And even if mains electricity was used, the voltage would be stepped down to battery-levels.’
      • ‘AC circuits predominate in the US transmission system because they are compatible with transformers - devices that can step up voltage before electricity is transported or step it down before electricity is distributed to consumers.’
      • ‘For PSD analysis, the reflector voltage was stepped down in 10 to 12 steps, starting from 30 kV, in order to collect fragment ions from the precursor down to immonium ions.’
      • ‘But larger facilities, including malls, campuses and industrial plants, may take power at ‘high tension’ - between 4,800 and 138,000 volts - and then step it down with their own transformers.’
  • step forward

    • Offer one's help or services.

      ‘a company has stepped forward to sponsor the team’
      • ‘Fourteen candidates stepped forward to jockey for the four available positions.’
      • ‘To the coaches and co-ordinators - thanks for stepping forward when we came asking.’
      • ‘At press time no student had stepped forward offering to cover the substantial deficit.’
      • ‘To Fidel's surprise, his old comrade Che Guevara steps forward, and is duly appointed Finance Minister.’
      • ‘It was at this point the man - who had been seated near to the pair on the train - stepped forward to offer his help.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Government sanction has enabled the East Midlands Development Agency to offer allowances for parties stepping forward to help fund the race.’
      • ‘This was a case of a courageous individual stepping forward and enabling the Army to police itself.’
      • ‘Unless a major business steps forward in the future, the carnival could also be in jeopardy.’
      • ‘It's just a case of being confident, stepping forward and accepting responsibility like a man.’
      • ‘I share with my sister and mother the doom of always stepping forward when we see something that needs doing that no-one else will own.’
  • step in

    • 1Become involved in a difficult situation, especially in order to help.

      ‘palace officials asked the government to step in’
      • ‘Thus, government steps in and subsidizes premiums to encourage more farmers to join.’
      • ‘But Priya steps in and starts encouraging him and insists that he should cure her of her problem.’
      • ‘By Saturday of last week local African Caribbean churches had stepped in to try to calm the situation down.’
      • ‘One source close to the club, who did not want to be named, said that club volunteers had stepped in to help but were no substitute.’
      • ‘It really is time that city hall stepped in to try and salvage the situation!’
      • ‘A while ago I was involved in an incident where I stepped in to help someone who was being spat at by a racist.’
      • ‘The victim had become involved in a fight outside the pub and Miss Ward stepped in.’
      • ‘Bradford is proving that pupils' exam grades go up when business steps in to help failing local education authorities.’
      • ‘One OF York's worst eyesore houses could be in line for a facelift if the city council steps in and forces its owner to sell up.’
      • ‘We are too global now to not have a world body that seeks to prevent wars and steps in when they occur.’
      intervene, intercede, become involved, get involved, act, take action, take measures, take a hand
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Act as a substitute for someone.
        ‘Lucy stepped in at very short notice to take Joan's place’
        • ‘Neither bothered to turn up and the business editor stepped in to do an admirable job as a late substitute.’
        • ‘Blindside flanker Jim Nicholson is out through injury, so natural replacement Duncan Phillips steps in.’
  • step out

    • 1Leave a room or building for a short time.

      ‘Mrs Giraud has had to step out for a while, but make yourself at home’
      • ‘Once Alex is washed she steps out into the main room with her shirt done up loosely.’
      • ‘He steps out of the room and returns a few minutes later after consulting his manager.’
      • ‘Her husband asked her to step out of the room, which she did.’
      • ‘When a break was called, he stood, smiling, and asked to step out of the room.’
      • ‘I stepped out of the room to grab a couple of beers from the kitchen.’
      • ‘He had to step out of the room for a moment when the rule was being voted on.’
      • ‘So, she hands me a fly-swatter, steps out of the room and goes to phone my step-dad to find out where they keep the bug spray.’
      • ‘He was attacked after the class nanny stepped out of the room to change another baby's nappy.’
      • ‘When Sidney steps out of the room to take one of many cell phone calls, Harold works up the nerve to go over to the actress and introduce himself.’
      • ‘He thinks a moment, and then steps out of the room.’
    • 2Go out with.

      ‘he was stepping out with a redheaded waitress’
      • ‘He was a member of a failed boyband and has been stepping out with young Samantha for three years now.’
      • ‘What I didn't know at the time was that she had also been stepping out with K on a reasonably regular basis over the last couple of months.’
      • ‘I'm constantly amazed at the number of gorgeous women who prefer being with a fatty to stepping out with an Adonis.’
      • ‘She's now stepping out with a gentleman.’
      • ‘She has since begun stepping out with Josh, probably the coolest rock star around.’
      • ‘Sarah Reid ponders the new round of rumours suggesting he's stepping out with Sophie Dahl’
      • ‘Snogging A-listers and stepping out with celebs could be a career-boosting move for the winners who are still enjoying their first flurry of fame.’
      • ‘He even switched camps, stepping out with a member of Kylie's troop, no less.’
      • ‘It seems Rupert's been stepping out with some rich vixen.’
      • ‘Turns out he's been snapped stepping out with Star Wars action figurine Natalie Portman and the winsome Winona Ryder.’
    • 3Walk with long or vigorous steps.

      ‘she enjoyed the outing, stepping out manfully’
      • ‘Weak, disused musculature means I have to saunter and stroll rather than step out briskly.’
      • ‘I nudged Glory into a trot and he eagerly stepped out, his long strides eating up the ground.’
  • step out on

    • Be sexually unfaithful to.

      ‘your mama says Joe is stepping out on you with that strumpet Viola Stokes’
      • ‘Another liked to step out on her partner to smooch with me.’
      • ‘She who gives up her safe conduct to berate her husband for stepping out on her.’
      • ‘And of course you are lucky that Contestant No.1 has not yet discerned that you are stepping out on him.’
      • ‘Because no matter how you look at it, stepping out on your spouse with someone at work is just a bad idea all around.’
  • step something up

    • 1Increase the amount, speed, or intensity of something.

      ‘police decided to step up security plans for the match’
      • ‘Rowdy revellers and arsonists could see their antics crushed as a drive to tackle residents' worries steps up a gear.’
      • ‘The visitors were stepping up their game and it was no surprise when they went further ahead in the 59th minute.’
      • ‘Police are stepping up their war on anti-social behaviour on an estate.’
      • ‘They are stepping up ticketing to clamp down on the vehicles using double yellow lines to park in Southampton city centre.’
      • ‘Security patrols have been stepped up in the border area.’
      • ‘Police are stepping up their fight against illicit drugs with a pioneering new piece of computer technology.’
      • ‘And as the government steps up its efforts to join the euro we can expect more traders sell sterling in anticipation.’
      • ‘From there he drove to his home in Glasgow's west end where his security will be stepped up.’
      • ‘This quality threshold is likely to be raised as the organisation steps up its activities as it moves into the private sector.’
      • ‘Police are now stepping up the campaign to catch the culprit and have asked members of the public to come forward if they know who it is.’
      increase, intensify, strengthen, augment, escalate, scale up, boost
      speed up, increase, accelerate, quicken, hasten
      View synonyms
    • 2Increase voltage using a transformer.

      • ‘European machines, which operate on electrical standards different from those of U.S. machines, require transformers to step voltages up or down.’
      • ‘In the pictures you see, it's taking power from an external power supply, stepping it up in voltage, and driving a fluorescent lamp - all at an efficiency of less than 100%.’

Origin

Old English stæpe, stepe (noun), stæppan, steppan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch steppen and German stapfen.

Pronunciation

step

/stɛp/