Definition of steel in English:



  • 1A hard, strong, gray or bluish-gray alloy of iron with carbon and usually other elements, used extensively as a structural and fabricating material.

    • ‘The roof had a sandwich panel structure, with two layers of steel surrounding a polystyrene-type material.’
    • ‘He went on to remind me that China consumes more steel, copper and iron ore than any other country in the world.’
    • ‘The primary use of zinc is in galvanizing other metals, especially iron and steel.’
    • ‘As I stood there, I reached out and took my father's hand, and stared at all the boxes of steel, iron and brass.’
    • ‘Iron and steel are highest, copper and aluminum are lowest, brass and the like are in the middle.’
    • ‘Their cycles have been rejected by many countries in the west as they are not made of steel but an alloy which is not very strong.’
    • ‘This shining metal was not raw iron but hard steel, which bent the softer wrought-iron blades of the Gauls.’
    • ‘As is the case with steel, titanium is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength.’
    • ‘The main weakness of steel, as a structural material, is its tendency to corrode.’
    • ‘Iron alloyed with carbon is steel and this steel can be alloyed with a variety of ferro alloys to modify its properties.’
    • ‘Carbon steel is an alloy of iron with small amounts of Mn, S, P, and Si. Alloy steels are carbon steels with other additives such as nickel, chromium, vanadium, etc.’
    • ‘It was a hulking grey structure of steel, with some massive boilers at one end.’
    • ‘Because they were made of iron rather than blue steel, they quickly rusted out.’
    • ‘However, the full effect of nitriding will not be realized unless alloy steel is selected.’
    • ‘It is drawn in much the same way as the brass we know, but the idea that steel is hard often interpreted to mean bad.’
    • ‘A magnet is the device that attracts certain types of metals, like iron or steel.’
    • ‘Adding carbon to iron to make steel does make it stronger and tougher, up to a point.’
    • ‘Its blade was strong steel, the handle gold with a jewel set on each side of the handle.’
    • ‘They will be used in interpreting the mechanical behavior of the ferritic steels used as structural materials in existing nuclear fission plants, as well as those proposed for future fusion plants.’
    • ‘Alloy steel, copper, lead, zinc and base metals are basic raw materials used in a variety of industries.’
    1. 1.1Used as a symbol or embodiment of strength and firmness.
      ‘nerves of steel’
      [as modifier] ‘a steel will’
      • ‘Tristan grabbed me right back from him and anchored me to his side with the strength of steel.’
      • ‘It takes nerves of steel to bite your tongue and say nothing because we'd rather be paid than end up having an argument for nothing.’
      • ‘You need nerves of steel and a large dose of blind faith to pull off a party in a disused, underground tube station.’
      • ‘What takes nerves of steel is becoming a politician with a message these days.’
      • ‘There are British athletes with nerves of steel who can get up there and deliver.’
      • ‘Daredevils with nerves of steel are being sought for the ultimate charity challenge.’
      • ‘What has particularly impressed Pauw, who won 87 caps for Holland, is the steel and resolve of her side.’
      • ‘Candidates need nerves of steel - and that's just to get through the selection procedure.’
      • ‘It is this determination that keeps the daredevil mountaineers with nerves of steel on the go.’
      • ‘The big Castlewellan player showed nerves of steel to hammer the ball through the uprights and square the match.’
      • ‘Golf requires nerves of steel, great skill but not a hell of a lot of fitness.’
      • ‘It's all very well playing great football but you also need a bit of strength and steel about you to make sure you don't concede goals like that.’
      • ‘It takes guts and nerves of steel to do it, because millions can be made or lost in seconds.’
      • ‘Ian Holmes showed nerves of steel as he comfortably tucked away the penalty kick.’
      • ‘Taking the most damaging pictures requires precision timing and nerves of steel.’
      • ‘I suppose at half time it looked very poor for us and the only thing we could do was get a bit of the courage and the steel in the previous games but it wasn't to be.’
      • ‘Requiring nerves of steel, speed sky diving involves plummeting from a plane at more than 300 mph.’
      • ‘It is just not true that you need nerves of steel to invest in this economic climate.’
      • ‘They were right, it was dangerous, don't be tempted unless you have a head for heights, nerves of steel or no common sense at all.’
      • ‘Except this time, the competition does not involve steely shots on the fairways, but nerves of steel on the property market.’
    2. 1.2A rod of roughened steel on which knives are sharpened.
      • ‘With it I demonstrate that it is impossible to cut yourself when sharpening on a steel as long as you use Neville knives.’


  • Mentally prepare (oneself) to do or face something difficult.

    ‘I speak quickly, steeling myself for a mean reply’
    • ‘Stiffening, his hand gravitating to his sword hilt, Ikeda steeled himself, preparing for any situation.’
    • ‘We desperately want to see him home again, but we are steeling ourselves for the worst.’
    • ‘Nursery school supporters in Middleton are steeling themselves for the next round in their fight to keep Sunny Brow open as a ‘stand-alone’ pre-school facility.’
    • ‘Ready for the off he travelled downstream and steeled himself as he approached the edge of the drop.’
    • ‘I was doing well that day, having gotten up early and steeled myself to give the eulogy.’
    • ‘This Sunday would have been her 22nd birthday, and the family are steeling themselves what they know will be a very difficult day.’
    • ‘Wilkie is steeling himself, though, for the prospect of being left out of the closing games of the season by Duffy as the manager tries out the central-defensive pairing he could employ in the final.’
    • ‘He wheeled round to face me and I steeled myself for a confrontation.’
    • ‘Even though she had steeled herself before coming, she wasn't prepared for what she saw.’
    • ‘Ministers are steeling themselves for a tough battle over the Government's plans for identity cards as the legislation providing for a national scheme heads towards a vital Commons vote.’
    • ‘It's all because I'm mentally steeling myself in preparation for next Monday.’
    • ‘The Allied high command anticipated that a successful landing would cost 10,000 dead and perhaps 30,000 wounded, but were steeling themselves for much heavier casualties.’
    • ‘Another glass of wine was downed as I steeled myself to approach a group of rather important-looking men and women.’
    • ‘It will be Dyson's third appearance in the Open and he feels he will be far better equipped to cope with the pressure after steeling himself to tournament play over the past four years.’
    • ‘The mauve glow of the sky outside tugged at Danielle's heart even as she steeled herself.’
    • ‘I still remember steeling myself to down the glass of the vile red stuff like a sailor knocks back a jigger of rot gut and then shakes all over at the horror of the liquid landing on his stomach.’
    • ‘When that was confirmed I realised I had actually been steeling myself in preparation.’
    • ‘I thought it was a protest over something or other and steeled myself for a list of complaints.’
    • ‘Some nations have steeled themselves and forbidden parents from hitting their children.’
    • ‘Though he had steeled himself for this moment, Charlton was not prepared for what he saw.’
    brace oneself, nerve oneself, gather muster one's courage, gather up one's courage, screw muster one's courage, screw up one's courage, summon muster one's courage, summon up one's courage, screw one's courage to the sticking place, gear oneself up, prepare oneself, get in the right frame of mind, make up one's mind
    fortify oneself, harden oneself, bolster oneself
    psych oneself up
    gird one's loins, gird up one's loins
    View synonyms


Old English stȳle, stēli, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch staal, German Stahl, also to stay. The verb dates from the late 16th century.