• 1[no object, with adverbial] Lift and set down one's foot or one foot after the other in order to walk somewhere or move to a new position:

    ‘Claudia tried to step back’
    ‘I accidentally stepped on his foot’
    • ‘Shakespeare has been with us in Aotearoa since Captain Cook stepped ashore in 1769.’
    • ‘He set me back on my feet and I stepped aside to allow him entrance.’
    • ‘When I stepped on his foot, not accidentally, he winced in pain and let go of me.’
    • ‘When I open the door so she can take a breather she very seldom steps over the sill.’
    • ‘Running his hands through his hair, Guy approaches the ladder and steps onto the bottom rung.’
    • ‘A young man stepped into the firelight, his face partly obscured by tumbles of dark brown hair.’
    • ‘John moved across the small area slowly, occasionally stepping on her feet.’
    • ‘I suppose everyone who worked with horses will have had their foot accidentally stepped on.’
    • ‘The young man stepped closer and Lane caught a better look at him.’
    • ‘Moments later the door swung open and a young military nurse stepped into the room.’
    • ‘This was soon to change: a crash course in the Greek language and culture saw him stepping from the plane in Athens six months later.’
    • ‘I turned around and jumped back into Anna, stepping on her foot.’
    • ‘At the bottom of the stairs in the morning, I stepped into two feet of freezing cold water and we decided to evacuate the family.’
    • ‘He swooped down and plucked me off my feet, stepping onto the porch.’
    • ‘Wendy had just lifted her foot to step over to the next joist, and the sudden noise made her startle badly.’
    • ‘I had recently injured my foot by stepping on a laptop plug.’
    • ‘If they are successful, the men will step ashore for the first time in four months when they reach the coast of California.’
    • ‘I scale the stairs quickly as possible, stepping over sitting persons, avoiding an obstacle course of beer bottles.’
    • ‘The young man quickly stepped away from the door, pulling it open for his fellow student.’
    • ‘At the back of the church, people stepped over a well-dressed young man who seemed unconscious.’
    walk, move, tread, pace, stride
    tread, stamp, trample, tramp
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[as imperative] Used as a polite or deferential way of asking someone to walk a short distance for a particular purpose:
      ‘please step this way’
      • ‘Well now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, would you mind stepping into my office?’
      • ‘Calmly but firmly insist on stepping into a private office or conference room where you will attend to his concerns.’
      • ‘Just shy of an hour after I got in, my manager came in and asked me to step into his office when I had a chance.’
    2. 1.2step itdated Perform a dance:
      ‘they stepped it down the room between the lines of dancers’
      • ‘Here's the girl, clueless at how to begin stepping it with the dance partner.’
      • ‘Hearing of my trophy for ballroom dancing, the ladies present asked me to step it out with them.’
      • ‘Teresa Dunne and her very talented step dancing group will also be stepping it out on the boards.’
      • ‘It was then time for more dancing and the gathering took to the floor and stepped it out to strains of Sean Wisley and his band.’
      • ‘The happy couple took to the maple floor and were at peace as they stepped it out and danced to their hearts content.’
    3. 1.3 Take a particular course of action:
      ‘he stepped out of retirement to answer an SOS call from his old club’
      • ‘He has held pop concerts across China in the shortest period after stepping into stardom.’
      • ‘In doing so, this set of articles steps squarely into the current debate.’
      • ‘He plays a lawyer who must step beyond the office and mounting files.’
      • ‘At 28 he's young enough to make some impact on the division but unless he steps outside Thailand he'll never get it done.’
  • 2Nautical
    [with object] Set up (a mast) in its step.

    • ‘The cruiser fleet was refloated at the club slipway on Good Friday last and the masts were stepped on Saturday morning.’
    • ‘With the ship in the water, its time now to step the mast and attend to the rigging.’
    • ‘In our first trials we found that the mast could be safely stepped on a single standard frame.’
    • ‘Gotheborg will remain alongside fitting out and stepping her masts and rigging before starting sea trials in early 2004.’