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’
    • ‘There was some falling and some grabbing at us, but pretty quickly he'd managed to take a couple of successful steps.’
    • ‘He took short shuffling steps and shook his considerable bulk with each one.’
    • ‘He then proceeded taking the few steps towards the massive front doors of the palace, which slowly opened, as he got nearer.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He took a slow step backward, and then fell flat onto his back.’
    • ‘The waiter took a short step backwards, the cheese bowl clattered on the table’
    • ‘I took a couple of tentative steps inside, when the door suddenly slammed behind me.’
    • ‘Then retrace your steps for a short distance and turn left.’
    • ‘She made her way across the massive Headmaster's office, taking slow, calm steps to the door.’
    • ‘Clip it on, and then track steps taken, miles covered, and calories burned.’
    • ‘She closed the distance in a few steps and turned around.’
    • ‘By 1946 he could only get around by taking taxi rides, a few steps would make him short of breath.’
    • ‘Slowly, he strolls away from his house in the direction of Third Street, turning his head every couple of steps.’
    • ‘And she doesn't even have to move much, just a quick twist or a step away is all she needs.’
    • ‘May took her arm, and they began to walk with small steps towards the exit.’
    • ‘Chad made it to the door in a few short and choppy steps, and yanked it open.’
    • ‘Make your advances and retreats take as little time as possible, even if this means taking shorter steps.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘Her entire body shaking, feet suddenly heavy, she struggled to walk the few steps to the front of the house.’
      • ‘We have a man always on the scene, never, never more than a step away from instantaneously covering a story.’
      • ‘This isn't really a weblog, but it's only a couple of steps removed from one.’
      • ‘The effect is so unsettling that I stumble back a couple of steps.’
      • ‘We were overwhelmed and forced a couple of steps backwards as the hordes flooded past us.’
      • ‘Gradually move the starting distances back a couple of steps at a time.’
      • ‘Maggie looked over at Jen and got up, quickly covering the few steps to gently embrace her daughter.’
      • ‘The person was made to carry a bag on his or her back a certain distance, sometimes three steps or across three thresholds.’
      • ‘I was only a couple of steps away, but something below me, at about waist level, was blocking my way.’
      • ‘Michael managed to shuffle a couple of steps to his right and get one arm back inside the building.’
      • ‘I would walk three big steps towards the mat, and then jump as high as I could.’
      • ‘These are used to determine trip lengths in time and distance in subsequent steps.’
      • ‘De Vere backed up several steps toward the side staircase.’
      • ‘Moving back a few steps, Christian geared himself up and made a run for the door, hitting it against his shoulder.’
      • ‘He stopped just a few steps short of leaving this apartment, possibly forever.’
    2. 1.2[usually in singular] A person's particular way of walking.
      ‘she left the room with a springy 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.’
      • ‘Life had to be faced head-on and, that too with a spring in the step!’
      • ‘It was not just the prospect of receiving a spanking-new car that put a spring in the step.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To me he appeared to have grown less springy of step, heavier in body, less keen of eye.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Men whose step has slowed are thinking of boys they knew when they were boys together.’
      • ‘You get an air of invincibility about you and that, as much as any training, puts a spring back 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.’
      • ‘Between the milk and the caffeine it puts a spring in your step.’
      • ‘There is a spring in the step as the city grooves to a new beat.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is not a recipe for a sunny visage and a spring in the step.’
      • ‘The floor was covered in thick, burgundy carpet, which seemed to add an extra spring to one's step.’
      • ‘As I walked up the stairs I slowed my steps, smiling at the echo of the staircase.’
      • ‘They were not long in coming, and the quick light step of Mel was followed by the slow tread of Bridget.’
      gait, walk, way of walking, tread, bearing, carriage
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 One of the sequences of movement of the feet that make up a dance.
      • ‘In a technical and physical challenge, the dancers perform Peking opera gestures and movements at the same time as they dance ballet steps.’
      • ‘Learning hula steps and motions and dancing every day is a great way to keep a body flexible while enjoying Hawaiian music.’
      • ‘He has also written concert music that's spacious and flows without a step being danced to it.’
      • ‘She has even mastered some ballroom dance steps, which form part of the choreographed routines for the show.’
      • ‘They did this all in slow motion, slowly and carefully, as if learning all the steps to a dance routine.’
      • ‘It hadn't taken Todd long to pick up on the dance steps; to Rachel's surprise Todd had a knack for dancing.’
      • ‘They are imitating the complex dance steps and hand jives that the group perform in their videos.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You cannot experience the dance just by knowing the sequence of steps.’
      • ‘The pace is fast and the choreography can be tricky, with steps and arm movements often deliberately at odds with each other.’
      • ‘At first, the image of Astaire trying to acclimate to the unusual steps of Indian dance is humorous.’
      • ‘While Williams made her way brilliantly through its forest of steps, the dance was more demanding than affecting.’
      • ‘On the other hand, she notes that the women are now doing her steps, her choreography.’
      • ‘The choir holds dance workshops and steps are choreographed as a group.’
      • ‘I have monitored the progress of modern dance steps over the past three decades.’
      • ‘Importantly, during her explanation, she demonstrates dance steps that convey events in the narrative.’
      • ‘My ladies and I were having a wonderful afternoon, practicing dance steps.’
      • ‘He coped well with his large assortment of jumping steps, as well as multiple pirouettes which were all danced with ease.’
      • ‘A ‘hyperactive’ only child, she would spend her time milking her parents' cows and practising her ballet steps.’
    4. 1.4 A short or easily walked distance.
      ‘the market is only a short step from the end of 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’
    • ‘They walked up the steps and paused in front of a wooden door that appeared, to Justin at least, very menacing and inhibiting.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Aidan was the first to climb up the small steps to the upper level.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Cut into the granite is a steep, gradually narrowing staircase, with some steps almost one foot high.’
    • ‘At exactly six-thirty that evening, I walked up the steps of Lydia's front porch to ring her doorbell.’
    • ‘Wendy saw Dr. Maddox out of the corner of her eye at the bottom step of a stairway leading to a second floor.’
    • ‘The café is on two levels separated by shallow steps.’
    • ‘My pool had steps instead of ladders, so you didn't really have to climb.’
    • ‘Ahead, at the end of the path, steps led up to double doors standing open.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There is an extensive lawn to the rear laid out over two levels with steps leading up to a hard tennis court.’
    • ‘This is fitted with wall to wall wardrobes and is also partially split level, with steps leading to the en suite shower room.’
    • ‘When I opened the door, Kay was sitting on the bottom step of the grand staircase.’
    • ‘Before James got suspicious, I got out of the car and walked up towards the front steps as the last bus rolled away.’
    • ‘Milo moved in for one last kiss, then he turned and walked down the porch steps, moving towards his car.’
    • ‘The sound of someone moving noisily up the steps attracted Margaret's attention.’
    • ‘I walked up the front steps to our house, carrying my bag behind me.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Amanda nervously walked up the front steps of the twins' large house.’
    stair, tread, tread board
    View synonyms
    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.
      • ‘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. 2.4Mountaineering A foothold cut in a slope of ice.
    5. 2.5 A block, typically fixed to the vessel's keel, on which the base of a mast is seated.
      • ‘The hull was modified in 1995 to include two ventilated steps, a keel pad and notched transom.’
    6. 2.6Physics An abrupt change in the value of a quantity, especially voltage.
      • ‘Single channel responses to voltage steps were simulated using the Noise Simulation program.’
      • ‘The ionization step needed to create an ultracold plasma is performed using nanosecond laser pulses.’
      • ‘Excitation of a suspension of such vesicles with a flash of light generated a voltage step across the membrane.’
      • ‘It is possible that each of two generators produces a spark at the same time during a voltage step.’
      • ‘At 0 mV, sparks appeared at the beginning of the voltage step with a probability of unity.’
  • 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’
    • ‘So for a president contemplating his place in American history, there is currently no strong pressure to take bold steps.’
    • ‘The next step is to add milk but milk is dangerous and the date stamps are often confusing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After such an emergency you would want to ensure steps were taken to cover such emergencies in future.’
    • ‘U.S. presidents knew about UFO crash retrievals right from the start and took steps to cover up the evidence.’
    • ‘The unit have now provided employers with information about how to carry out assessments and practical steps to reduce sound levels.’
    • ‘Once you have identified slow code, the next step is to address those issues.’
    • ‘We extend best wishes this week to a local couple taking the big step.’
    • ‘However, council bosses stressed that year-on-year benefits processing was improving thanks to the steps taken by management.’
    • ‘For the author whose literary career began on a slow train to Manchester, it was a huge step.’
    • ‘The lender should also be ashamed that it took no effective steps to help the couple.’
    • ‘The first step was to level the area where the gazebo would be located and set the support columns in concrete.’
    • ‘He checks his high blood sugar level daily and takes steps to control it, using insulin injections, diet and exercise.’
    • ‘My plan was moving a little quicker than anticipated so I decided to take things slow after the next step.’
    • ‘He said he was pleased the officers had taken steps to protect shoppers who spend hard-earned cash on poor-quality fakes.’
    • ‘But people are taking steps beyond moving cows or horses out of harms way.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was at this point that he took the bold step of moving to Iwama.’
    • ‘He said the company was currently investigating whether steps could be taken to inform former members of staff of the situation.’
    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’
      • ‘It felt like the first step on a slippery slope to mounting debt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It surely didn't happen overnight, and as near as I can determine, it came in several, very gradual steps.’
      • ‘They want it over and done with so that they can get on with the next step of their rebuilding process.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Myself, I believe that legalising cannabis will be just another step closer to losing the battle with class A drug abuse.’
      • ‘Campaigners claim the final deal will actually mark a step backwards from the position before the summit started.’
      • ‘The next step is for the horse to learn how to go slower and collect from the leg - and thus truly accept the leg.’
      • ‘Therefore, the government will proceed with the next step of the recall process.’
      • ‘Purists, however, might regard arranging a Schubert string quartet for chamber orchestra as a step too far.’
      • ‘They determine the steps of the interaction process that are supposed to lead to consensus between the agents.’
      • ‘We can do finer and finer grain experiments, but at each step of the way, is not our best model one which is digital?’
      • ‘The next step involves the external fitting of the safety, beavertail and mainspring housing.’
      • ‘Strike action on Scotland's railways came a step closer yesterday after the main union rejected an above inflation pay rise.’
      • ‘Once their physical wounds are healed, the next logical step for the women will be justice.’
      • ‘I'm always a step ahead of the musicians - I'm showing them where the music needs to go and why.’
      • ‘Using several drugs to block HIV at different steps of its life cycle is more effective than any one medication.’
      • ‘If this is true, then we expect to find traces of intermediate steps of this turnover process within these regions.’
      • ‘Today Britain's railways are a step closer to being run by and for the nation.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2 A particular position or grade on an ascending or hierarchical scale.
      ‘the first step on the managerial ladder’
      • ‘At least I knew and understood where I stood with men; namely several steps further down the ladder.’
      • ‘But you can't rest on your laurels - you must create your CV to get yourself on the next step of the ladder.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I also met with scores of Iraqis from all steps of the socioeconomic ladder and all of the major ethnic and religious groups.’
      • ‘Indeed, in many cultures to be a musician is just a few steps above a beggar.’
      • ‘The spiralling cost of property has also meant that, for young families, this is usually the first step on the property ladder.’
      • ‘I had good management, good coaching, it improved my game and put me on the first step on the ladder I suppose.’
      • ‘Her successor says beatification, the step just short of sainthood, will be important not just for her order.’
      • ‘The fact is, every mentally capable person looks at entry-level jobs as a first step on the economic ladder.’
      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.’
  • 5Step aerobics.

    [as modifier] ‘a step class’
    • ‘I frequently see women at my gym take two spinning or step classes in a row.’
    • ‘The Tuesday class is step and toning and Thursdays class will be a total body workout.’
    • ‘This class is for ladies only and includes step aerobics, weights, stretching, etc.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In a step class, the calorie burn correlates in part with step height.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This works well with all kinds of group exercise classes, not just step.’
    • ‘We have had special step classes put on so we could get the hang of it all quicker!’
    • ‘You might want to try putting a few days between your strength training and step workouts.’
    • ‘The Tuesday class is step and abdominals while the Thursday class is a total body workout.’
    • ‘Gyms schedule tai chi and yoga instruction in addition to the more traditional aerobics and step classes.’
    • ‘He indulged in boxing and martial arts, taught aerobics and step classes, and enjoyed running.’
    • ‘With just a few months to go, Annie is preparing for the trip by walking and taking up step classes at her local gym.’

verb

  • 1[no object] 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’
    • ‘John moved across the small area slowly, occasionally stepping on her feet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A young man stepped into the firelight, his face partly obscured by tumbles of dark brown hair.’
    • ‘Wendy had just lifted her foot to step over to the next joist, and the sudden noise made her startle badly.’
    • ‘I suppose everyone who worked with horses will have had their foot accidentally stepped on.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When I stepped on his foot, not accidentally, he winced in pain and let go of me.’
    • ‘I had recently injured my foot by stepping on a laptop plug.’
    • ‘Running his hands through his hair, Guy approaches the ladder and steps onto the bottom rung.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The young man quickly stepped away from the door, pulling it open for his fellow student.’
    • ‘He swooped down and plucked me off my feet, stepping onto the porch.’
    • ‘When I open the door so she can take a breather she very seldom steps over the sill.’
    • ‘I scale the stairs quickly as possible, stepping over sitting persons, avoiding an obstacle course of beer bottles.’
    • ‘Moments later the door swung open and a young military nurse stepped into the room.’
    • ‘The young man stepped closer and Lane caught a better look at him.’
    • ‘If they are successful, the men will step ashore for the first time in four months when they reach the coast of California.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2step itdated Perform a dance.
      ‘they stepped it down the room between the lines of dancers’
      • ‘Hearing of my trophy for ballroom dancing, the ladies present asked me to step it out with them.’
      • ‘The happy couple took to the maple floor and were at peace as they stepped it out and danced to their hearts content.’
      • ‘Here's the girl, clueless at how to begin stepping it with the dance partner.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3 Take a particular course of action.
      ‘young men have temporarily stepped out of the labor market’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He has held pop concerts across China in the shortest period after stepping into stardom.’
  • 2Nautical
    [with object] Set up (a mast) in its step.

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

Phrases

  • break step

    • Stop walking or marching in step with others.

      • ‘Then they break step and disperse over Southwark Bridge, chatting and slouching.’
      • ‘They were all of different heights and strides yet they never broke step.’
      • ‘Passers-by in this northern suburb in the foothills of Iran's Elborz Mountains are few, and most walk past without breaking 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.

      • ‘He slowly opened his eyes as he walked forward, falling into step beside his sister.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘He fell into step beside me and took my hand as we walked to our classes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Maria nodded slowly, and then fell into step beside us.’
      • ‘After school, he came up to me as I was walking home, and fell into step beside me.’
      • ‘Interested, I fell into step behind them as they walked.’
      • ‘Nick waited for the rest of them to walk past him and fell into step with Crystal.’
  • 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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Twenty-one young children from the local schools marched in step, each child carrying a rose.’
      • ‘Nowadays, players are slouching, walking out of step, and passing around water bottles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Protectively placing an arm around his mother's shoulders, Michael walks in step with her to the drawing room.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At one point, young Erin hurried forward to march in step with the Captain.’
      1. 1.1Conforming (or not conforming) to what others are doing or thinking.
        ‘the party is clearly out of step with voters’
        • ‘Are they going to boot him out of office if he doesn't march in step?’
        • ‘That's where art was heading, so he was a little out of step with the intellectual movement.’
        • ‘The problem with that, of course, is that those opposition parties are out of step with 82 percent of New Zealanders.’
        • ‘At present, they are all out of step with the vast majority of British people.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The ordinary American continues to be splendidly out of step with the Chattering Classes.’
        • ‘For too long Glasgow has been out of step with the rest of Scotland which complies far more readily with copyright law.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘The ethnic make-up of Woolwich will certainly put that shop out of step with the local community.’
        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.
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
  • keep step

    • Remain walking, marching, or dancing in step.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We have to change the interpretation of the rules to keep step with market forces.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Weak as my limbs were I managed to keep step with Nick, though I believe he purposely slowed his pace to accommodate me.’
      • ‘And he definitely didn't notice the figure keeping step with him, watching him curiously.’
      • ‘What's more, the tomography must be able to keep step with the production cycle.’
      • ‘With the regimentation of battle tactics and the increasing importance of the need to keep step, drummers became an essential part of European armies.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Julie, a trainee nurse, is already one step ahead of her husband, having taken part in a similar ladies-only event.’
      • ‘That policy is all part of his drive to stay one step ahead.’
      • ‘At the end of the day, in our attempt to go one step ahead, we have ended up two steps behind.’
      • ‘It was also a race to keep one step ahead of the game.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Wherever I go, church-wise, I always seem to be one step ahead in vision or desire of where the church is at.’
      • ‘We need to be proactive, one step ahead of the competition - an international leader.’
      • ‘In the good old days, organised crime figures in the United States were cagey, one step ahead of the law at every turn.’
  • 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 adjective] ‘a step-by-step guide’
      • ‘She loved pranks, but they had to be carefully planned out, step by step, whereas he just did it.’
      • ‘Now in a step by step guide, I'll show you how I can achieve this.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Pat got right down to business, taking the group step by step through the fundamentals of writing poetry.’
      • ‘The software contains lesson plans, which enable the teacher to cover each of these elements step by step.’
      • ‘The exhibits suggested ways and means to reduce weight step by step.’
      • ‘He guides you step by step through comprehensive and easy to follow instructions.’
      • ‘They followed this step by step guide to equipment and software applications at their own speed.’
      • ‘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.’
      one step at a time, bit by bit, gradually, in stages, by degrees, slowly, steadily, slowly but surely
      gradatim
      View synonyms
  • step into the breach

    • Replace someone who is suddenly unable to do a job or task.

      • ‘But he's disappeared, for now, so I'm stepping into the breach.’
      • ‘But last week it was announced that the town's jazz society was stepping into the breach and the show would go on for just £6,000.’
      • ‘Our thanks must go to them for stepping into the breach.’
      • ‘He suggested that if the Rivers Agency did not have the manpower to complete the task then the Council would be more than happy to step into the breach.’
      • ‘The little guys have reached the breaking point and are taking matters into their own hands - stepping into the breach with the one-two punch of proxy resolutions and lawsuits.’
      • ‘Well, not if - I would echo what Jonah says - not if someone else steps into the breach.’
      • ‘Critics will say NGOs aren't simply gallantly stepping into the breach, rather they actually seek to perpetuate their power in crises like this.’
      • ‘Perhaps now that society doesn't reward the maternal instinct in the way it once did there is a gap to fill and men, newly emasculated, are stepping into the breach.’
      • ‘So the worker who appears to be extremely diligent and hard working, can in fact perhaps be trying to cover up their tracks and make sure there's no opportunity for anyone to step into the breach and uncover their fraudulent acts?’
      • ‘However, if the US consumer, the mainstay of much of the US's positive economic performance until September 11, decides to cool off for a while, the manufacturing sector is showing signs of stepping into the breach for a change.’
      • ‘The job is currently vacant at the moment, which is fun for all concerned - so I have bravely stepped into the breach, much to the relief of the lovely-sounding head librarian at the school.’
      • ‘Others argue that it is extremely unlikely that the Scottish Executive or Westminster would suddenly step into the breach and come to the rescue with a potful of cash.’
      • ‘A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said: ‘It is good news that someone is stepping into the breach, not just for the holidaymaker but for all those who have second homes in northern France.’’
      • ‘The National Heritage Memorial Fund stepped into the breach and handed over £1 million to cover the work.’
      • ‘Eventually he is unable to call the numbers, so Bobby steps into the breach and becomes an overnight hit.’
      • ‘So, in the interest of returning some level of sanity to public discourse, I am stepping into the breach.’
      • ‘Principals and deputy principals stepped into the breach after Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland members withdrew from the work over a year ago.’
      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 into someone's shoes

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

      • ‘As soon as my father was gone, Nick stepped into his shoes.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘But this week, the majority of those drivers returned to their posts and learner drivers did not step into their shoes as intended.’
      • ‘He has already stepped into Kenyon 's shoes once before, replacing him as deputy chief executive three years ago.’
      • ‘The man stepping into his shoes, however, is no shadowy unknown.’
      • ‘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 stepped into her shoes once before, when she had to pull out due to family crises.’
      • ‘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 (or step on the gas)

    • informal Go faster, typically in a motor vehicle.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      hurry up, get a move on, speed up, go faster, be quick
      get cracking, get moving, step on the gas, rattle one's dags
      get one's skates on, stir one's stumps
      get a wiggle on
      put foot
      make haste
      View synonyms
  • step out of line

    • Behave inappropriately or disobediently.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There would have been a massive fine if anyone was found to have stepped out of line in the way of drinking and fighting.’
      • ‘They taught me to let people know when they step 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.’
      • ‘Now at least we will all know if she steps out of line and how to take action.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If your boy steps out of line, do not reason or cajole.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If a player steps out of line then he gets hauled over the coals.’
  • step up to the plate

    • Take action in response to an opportunity or crisis.

      • ‘The federal authorities need to step up to the plate and face their responsibility.’
      • ‘I've really stepped up to the plate on this album.’
      • ‘They're great Americans and they're stepping up to the plate.’
      • ‘Make sure your congressman steps up to the plate.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The president has boldly stepped up to the plate.’
      • ‘And we want people stepping up to the plate to be vaccinated if they're in a priority group.’
      • ‘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.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • step aside

  • step back

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

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

    • Withdraw or resign from an important position or office.

      ‘Mr. Krenz stepped down as party leader a week ago’
      • ‘They have been sounded but refused to step down from their respective offices.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I remember the day he told me that he was stepping down from that position.’
      • ‘He announced he was stepping down to accept a law school position in California.’
      • ‘Last night he decided to step down from his position rather than follow his party's line.’
      • ‘Over the next few days he will have to step down from his various positions on SFA committees.’
      • ‘The real test of a democracy is when an office holder loses an election and steps down.’
      • ‘James has since said he would be stepping down later this year from his position.’
      • ‘He had to step down from the position because of the closure of the shipyards.’
      • ‘He stepped down from office in May this year, ending his second spell as Tory group leader on Doncaster Council.’
      resign, stand down, give up one's job, give up one's post, bow out
      retire, abdicate
      quit, call it a day
      View synonyms
  • step something down

    • Decrease voltage by using a transformer.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And even if mains electricity was used, the voltage would be stepped down to battery-levels.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • step forward

    • Offer one's help or services.

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

    • 1Become involved in a difficult or problematic situation, especially in order to help or prevent something from happening.

      • ‘A while ago I was involved in an incident where I stepped in to help someone who was being spat at by a racist.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The victim had become involved in a fight outside the pub and Miss Ward stepped in.’
      • ‘We are too global now to not have a world body that seeks to prevent wars and steps in when they occur.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It really is time that city hall stepped in to try and salvage the situation!’
      • ‘By Saturday of last week local African Caribbean churches had stepped in to try to calm the situation down.’
      • ‘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.’
      intervene, intercede, become involved, get involved, act, take action, take measures, take a hand
      mediate, arbitrate, intermediate
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Act as a substitute for someone.
        ‘Lucy stepped in at very short notice to take Joan's place’
        • ‘Blindside flanker Jim Nicholson is out through injury, so natural replacement Duncan Phillips steps in.’
        • ‘Neither bothered to turn up and the business editor stepped in to do an admirable job as a late substitute.’
  • step out

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

      • ‘He had to step out of the room for a moment when the rule was being voted on.’
      • ‘Once Alex is washed she steps out into the main room with her shirt done up loosely.’
      • ‘I stepped out of the room to grab a couple of beers from the kitchen.’
      • ‘He was attacked after the class nanny stepped out of the room to change another baby's nappy.’
      • ‘He steps out of the room and returns a few minutes later after consulting his manager.’
      • ‘He thinks a moment, and then steps out of the room.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    • 2Go out to have a good time.

      ‘he was stepping out with a redheaded waitress’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I'm constantly amazed at the number of gorgeous women who prefer being with a fatty to stepping out with an Adonis.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Turns out he's been snapped stepping out with Star Wars action figurine Natalie Portman and the winsome Winona Ryder.’
      • ‘Sarah Reid ponders the new round of rumours suggesting he's stepping out with Sophie Dahl’
      • ‘She's now stepping out with a gentleman.’
      • ‘It seems Rupert's been stepping out with some rich vixen.’
      • ‘He was a member of a failed boyband and has been stepping out with young Samantha for three years now.’
      • ‘He even switched camps, stepping out with a member of Kylie's troop, no less.’
      • ‘She has since begun stepping out with Josh, probably the coolest rock star around.’
    • 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 something up

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

      ‘police decided to step up security plans for the game’
      • ‘This quality threshold is likely to be raised as the organisation steps up its activities as it moves into the private sector.’
      • ‘Police are stepping up their war on anti-social behaviour on an estate.’
      • ‘Police are stepping up their fight against illicit drugs with a pioneering new piece of computer technology.’
      • ‘Rowdy revellers and arsonists could see their antics crushed as a drive to tackle residents' worries steps up a gear.’
      • ‘Security patrols have been stepped up in the border area.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The visitors were stepping up their game and it was no surprise when they went further ahead in the 59th minute.’
      • ‘They are stepping up ticketing to clamp down on the vehicles using double yellow lines to park in Southampton city centre.’
      increase, intensify, strengthen, augment, escalate, scale up, boost
      speed up, increase, accelerate, quicken, hasten
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Increase voltage using a transformer.
        • ‘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%.’
        • ‘European machines, which operate on electrical standards different from those of U.S. machines, require transformers to step voltages up or down.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation:

step

/step/