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’
    • ‘He then proceeded taking the few steps towards the massive front doors of the palace, which slowly opened, as he got nearer.’
    • ‘He took a slow step backward, and then fell flat onto his back.’
    • ‘Make your advances and retreats take as little time as possible, even if this means taking shorter steps.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then retrace your steps for a short distance and turn left.’
    • ‘But when I walk out from the shore, tiny purple crabs run for cover at my first step.’
    • ‘May took her arm, and they began to walk with small steps towards the exit.’
    • ‘Slowly, he strolls away from his house in the direction of Third Street, turning his head every couple of steps.’
    • ‘There was some falling and some grabbing at us, but pretty quickly he'd managed to take a couple of successful steps.’
    • ‘The pigeon took a couple of steps to the side, and then turned himself round to look behind him.’
    • ‘Chad made it to the door in a few short and choppy steps, and yanked it open.’
    • ‘And she doesn't even have to move much, just a quick twist or a step away is all she needs.’
    • ‘By 1946 he could only get around by taking taxi rides, a few steps would make him short of breath.’
    • ‘She made her way across the massive Headmaster's office, taking slow, calm steps to the door.’
    • ‘The waiter took a short step backwards, the cheese bowl clattered on the table’
    • ‘She closed the distance in a few steps and turned around.’
    • ‘The bleachers echoed in the distance from our rough steps.’
    • ‘Clip it on, and then track steps taken, miles covered, and calories burned.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘Moving back a few steps, Christian geared himself up and made a run for the door, hitting it against his shoulder.’
      • ‘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 person was made to carry a bag on his or her back a certain distance, sometimes three steps or across three thresholds.’
      • ‘Michael managed to shuffle a couple of steps to his right and get one arm back inside the building.’
      • ‘These are used to determine trip lengths in time and distance in subsequent steps.’
      • ‘Maggie looked over at Jen and got up, quickly covering the few steps to gently embrace her daughter.’
      • ‘The effect is so unsettling that I stumble back a couple of steps.’
      • ‘I would walk three big steps towards the mat, and then jump as high as I could.’
      • ‘We were overwhelmed and forced a couple of steps backwards as the hordes flooded past us.’
      • ‘I was only a couple of steps away, but something below me, at about waist level, was blocking my way.’
      • ‘Gradually move the starting distances back a couple of steps at a time.’
      • ‘Her entire body shaking, feet suddenly heavy, she struggled to walk the few steps to the front of the house.’
      • ‘De Vere backed up several steps toward the side staircase.’
      • ‘He stopped just a few steps short of leaving this apartment, possibly forever.’
    2. 1.2usually in singular A person's particular way of walking.
      ‘she left the room with a springy step’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The second half had to be better and thankfully there was an extra spring in City's step when they came out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They were not long in coming, and the quick light step of Mel was followed by the slow tread of Bridget.’
      • ‘This is not a recipe for a sunny visage and a spring in the step.’
      • ‘It was not just the prospect of receiving a spanking-new car that put a spring in the step.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As I walked up the stairs I slowed my steps, smiling at the echo of the staircase.’
      • ‘Nowadays, there is a new spring in the step of Clare folk, new talk of a new team, a new manager, a new era.’
      • ‘Men whose step has slowed are thinking of boys they knew when they were boys together.’
      • ‘There is a definite spring in the step of Jim as he continues his canvass of the constituency.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Life had to be faced head-on and, that too with a spring in the step!’
      • ‘To me he appeared to have grown less springy of step, heavier in body, less keen of eye.’
      • ‘We set off with a springing step - me particularly - as I had left most of the contents of my small pack at the hut.’
      • ‘The floor was covered in thick, burgundy carpet, which seemed to add an extra spring to one's step.’
      • ‘Whatever it is, it works beautifully and is sure to put a spring in anyone's step.’
      • ‘Between the milk and the caffeine it puts a spring in your step.’
      • ‘There was a spring in the step of mums and their toddlers at a Bexleyheath playgroup.’
      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.
      • ‘Learning hula steps and motions and dancing every day is a great way to keep a body flexible while enjoying Hawaiian music.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You cannot experience the dance just by knowing the sequence of steps.’
      • ‘She has even mastered some ballroom dance steps, which form part of the choreographed routines for the show.’
      • ‘The choir holds dance workshops and steps are choreographed as a group.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At first, the image of Astaire trying to acclimate to the unusual steps of Indian dance is humorous.’
      • ‘On the other hand, she notes that the women are now doing her steps, her choreography.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are imitating the complex dance steps and hand jives that the group perform in their videos.’
      • ‘While Williams made her way brilliantly through its forest of steps, the dance was more demanding than affecting.’
      • ‘I have monitored the progress of modern dance steps over the past three decades.’
      • ‘In a technical and physical challenge, the dancers perform Peking opera gestures and movements at the same time as they dance ballet steps.’
      • ‘After that, they chose and combined the movements with modern dance steps.’
      • ‘The pace is fast and the choreography can be tricky, with steps and arm movements often deliberately at odds with each other.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He has also written concert music that's spacious and flows without a step being danced to it.’
      metre, cadence, rhythm, foot
      View synonyms
    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’
    • ‘The sound of someone moving noisily up the steps attracted Margaret's attention.’
    • ‘They walked up the steps and paused in front of a wooden door that appeared, to Justin at least, very menacing and inhibiting.’
    • ‘This is fitted with wall to wall wardrobes and is also partially split level, with steps leading to the en suite shower room.’
    • ‘Before James got suspicious, I got out of the car and walked up towards the front steps as the last bus rolled away.’
    • ‘Amanda nervously walked up the front steps of the twins' large house.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Wendy saw Dr. Maddox out of the corner of her eye at the bottom step of a stairway leading to a second floor.’
    • ‘Milo moved in for one last kiss, then he turned and walked down the porch steps, moving towards his car.’
    • ‘Cut into the granite is a steep, gradually narrowing staircase, with some steps almost one foot high.’
    • ‘The café is on two levels separated by shallow steps.’
    • ‘Aidan was the first to climb up the small steps to the upper level.’
    • ‘When I opened the door, Kay was sitting on the bottom step of the grand staircase.’
    • ‘There is an extensive lawn to the rear laid out over two levels with steps leading up to a hard tennis court.’
    • ‘I walked up the front steps to our house, carrying my bag behind me.’
    • ‘At exactly six-thirty that evening, I walked up the steps of Lydia's front porch to ring her doorbell.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ahead, at the end of the path, steps led up to double doors standing open.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My pool had steps instead of ladders, so you didn't really have to climb.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.’
      • ‘She screeched as she held on to one of the steps of the steel ladder.’
      • ‘He jumps down, missing the last three steps of the ladder and landing right behind her.’
      rung, tread
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3British A stepladder.
      • ‘He raced to the home of Mrs Caulfield's sister where he also found Mr Caulfield collapsed under a pair of steps.’
      • ‘He listed a couple of folding camp chairs, a pair of steps, and a number of coats hanging up.’
    4. 2.4 Step aerobics.
      as modifier ‘a step class’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In a step class, the calorie burn correlates in part with step height.’
      • ‘We have had special step classes put on so we could get the hang of it all quicker!’
      • ‘The Tuesday class is step and abdominals while the Thursday class is a total body workout.’
      • ‘While increasing the tempo in your step class may augment intensity, it can also increase the risk of injury.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This works well with all kinds of group exercise classes, not just step.’
      • ‘I frequently see women at my gym take two spinning or step classes in a row.’
      • ‘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 toning and Thursdays class will be a total body workout.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You might want to try putting a few days between your strength training and step workouts.’
    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’
    • ‘The next step is to add milk but milk is dangerous and the date stamps are often confusing.’
    • ‘Once you have identified slow code, the next step is to address those issues.’
    • ‘He said the company was currently investigating whether steps could be taken to inform former members of staff of the situation.’
    • ‘We extend best wishes this week to a local couple taking the big step.’
    • ‘It was at this point that he took the bold step of moving to Iwama.’
    • ‘The first step was to level the area where the gazebo would be located and set the support columns in concrete.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Such reports have declined in recent years as industry has taken steps to reduce formaldehyde levels.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The lender should also be ashamed that it took no effective steps to help the couple.’
    • ‘He checks his high blood sugar level daily and takes steps to control it, using insulin injections, diet and exercise.’
    • ‘However, council bosses stressed that year-on-year benefits processing was improving thanks to the steps taken by management.’
    • ‘So for a president contemplating his place in American history, there is currently no strong pressure to take bold steps.’
    • ‘The unit have now provided employers with information about how to carry out assessments and practical steps to reduce sound levels.’
    • ‘For the author whose literary career began on a slow train to Manchester, it was a huge step.’
    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 surely didn't happen overnight, and as near as I can determine, it came in several, very gradual steps.’
      • ‘Purists, however, might regard arranging a Schubert string quartet for chamber orchestra as a step too far.’
      • ‘The next step involves the external fitting of the safety, beavertail and mainspring housing.’
      • ‘They determine the steps of the interaction process that are supposed to lead to consensus between the agents.’
      • ‘I'm always a step ahead of the musicians - I'm showing them where the music needs to go and why.’
      • ‘Today Britain's railways are a step closer to being run by and for the nation.’
      • ‘They want it over and done with so that they can get on with the next step of their rebuilding process.’
      • ‘Using several drugs to block HIV at different steps of its life cycle is more effective than any one medication.’
      • ‘It felt like the first step on a slippery slope to mounting debt.’
      • ‘If this is true, then we expect to find traces of intermediate steps of this turnover process within these regions.’
      • ‘Once their physical wounds are healed, the next logical step for the women will be justice.’
      • ‘Myself, I believe that legalising cannabis will be just another step closer to losing the battle with class A drug abuse.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Therefore, the government will proceed with the next step of the recall process.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Strike action on Scotland's railways came a step closer yesterday after the main union rejected an above inflation pay rise.’
      • ‘The main purpose of our work was to study the initial alignment of cell membranes to foreign surfaces as an early step of adhesion.’
      • ‘The next step is for the horse to learn how to go slower and collect from the leg - and thus truly accept the leg.’
      • ‘We can do finer and finer grain experiments, but at each step of the way, is not our best model one which is digital?’
      • ‘Campaigners claim the final deal will actually mark a step backwards from the position before the summit started.’
      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’
      • ‘No-one was sponsoring me for this race and it is merely the first step on the ladder to the big one.’
      • ‘Second, clerical work no longer served as the first step on the ladder into management.’
      • ‘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 spiralling cost of property has also meant that, for young families, this is usually the first step on the property ladder.’
      • ‘The fact is, every mentally capable person looks at entry-level jobs as a first step on the economic ladder.’
      • ‘Indeed, in many cultures to be a musician is just a few steps above a beggar.’
      • ‘Her successor says beatification, the step just short of sainthood, will be important not just for her order.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He eventually reached Premier One division, just a step below professional level.’
      • ‘At least I knew and understood where I stood with men; namely several steps further down the ladder.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I had good management, good coaching, it improved my game and put me on the first step on the ladder I suppose.’
      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.

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

Phrases

  • break step

    • Stop walking or marching in step with others.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Then they break step and disperse over Southwark Bridge, chatting and slouching.’
      • ‘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 fell into step beside me and we walked on in silence.’
      • ‘He fell into step beside me and took my hand as we walked to our classes.’
      • ‘I started walking back up along the trail, and Butler fell into step beside me.’
      • ‘Nick waited for the rest of them to walk past him and fell into step with Crystal.’
      • ‘Maria nodded slowly, and then fell into step beside us.’
      • ‘‘Hey Jen,’ he says with a smile, and falls into step beside me as I walk down the hall to Calculus.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He slowly opened his eyes as he walked forward, falling into step beside his sister.’
      • ‘Christie nodded, and I fell into step beside her as we walked down the hallway.’
  • 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.

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

    • Remain walking, marching, or dancing in step.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What's more, the tomography must be able to keep step with the production cycle.’
      • ‘We have to change the interpretation of the rules to keep step with market forces.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Weak as my limbs were I managed to keep step with Nick, though I believe he purposely slowed his pace to accommodate me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And he definitely didn't notice the figure keeping step with him, watching him curiously.’
      • ‘With the regimentation of battle tactics and the increasing importance of the need to keep step, drummers became an essential part of European armies.’
      • ‘I started to speed up my step as well and Ben in turn tried to keep step with me.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Wherever I go, church-wise, I always seem to be one step ahead in vision or desire of where the church is at.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was also a race to keep one step ahead of the game.’
      • ‘In the good old days, organised crime figures in the United States were cagey, one step ahead of the law at every turn.’
      • ‘At the end of the day, in our attempt to go one step ahead, we have ended up two steps behind.’
      • ‘Julie, a trainee nurse, is already one step ahead of her husband, having taken part in a similar ladies-only event.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Now in a step by step guide, I'll show you how I can achieve this.’
      • ‘They followed this step by step guide to equipment and software applications at their own speed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He guides you step by step through comprehensive and easy to follow instructions.’
      • ‘She loved pranks, but they had to be carefully planned out, step by step, whereas he just did it.’
      • ‘And it lays out step by step what was done to assemble this bomb and deliver this bomb.’
      • ‘Pat got right down to business, taking the group step by step through the fundamentals of writing poetry.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
  • step into someone's shoes

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

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As soon as my father was gone, Nick stepped into his shoes.’
      • ‘Who has the authority, the sheer gravitas, to step 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.’
      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.

      • ‘The driver seemed to be really stepping on it as the bus gained speed very fast.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms
  • step out of line

    • Behave inappropriately or disobediently.

      • ‘They taught me to let people know when they step out of line.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If your boy steps out of line, do not reason or cajole.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If a player steps out of line then he gets hauled over the coals.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There would have been a massive fine if anyone was found to have stepped out of line in the way of drinking and fighting.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘They're great Americans and they're stepping up to the plate.’
      • ‘I've really stepped up to the plate on this album.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Make sure your congressman steps up to the plate.’
      • ‘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 space program is in complete disarray and no one is stepping up to the plate and trying to find a solution.’
      • ‘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 president has boldly stepped 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.

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

    • Withdraw or resign from an important position or office.

      ‘Mr. Krenz stepped down as party leader a week ago’
      • ‘Last night he decided to step down from his position rather than follow his party's line.’
      • ‘He stepped down from office in May this year, ending his second spell as Tory group leader on Doncaster Council.’
      • ‘James has since said he would be stepping down later this year from his position.’
      • ‘I remember the day he told me that he was stepping down from that position.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He announced he was stepping down to accept a law school position in California.’
      • ‘He had to step down from the position because of the closure of the shipyards.’
      • ‘They have been sounded but refused to step down from their respective offices.’
      • ‘The real test of a democracy is when an office holder loses an election and steps down.’
      • ‘Over the next few days he will have to step down from his various positions on SFA committees.’
      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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And even if mains electricity was used, the voltage would be stepped down to battery-levels.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘Unless a major business steps forward in the future, the carnival could also be in jeopardy.’
      • ‘To the coaches and co-ordinators - thanks for stepping forward when we came asking.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Government sanction has enabled the East Midlands Development Agency to offer allowances for parties stepping forward to help fund the race.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At press time no student had stepped forward offering to cover the substantial deficit.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's just a case of being confident, stepping forward and accepting responsibility like a man.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘But Priya steps in and starts encouraging him and insists that he should cure her of her problem.’
      • ‘We are too global now to not have a world body that seeks to prevent wars and steps in when they occur.’
      • ‘The victim had become involved in a fight outside the pub and Miss Ward stepped in.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘By Saturday of last week local African Caribbean churches had stepped in to try to calm the situation down.’
      • ‘It really is time that city hall stepped in to try and salvage the situation!’
      • ‘Bradford is proving that pupils' exam grades go up when business steps in to help failing local education authorities.’
      • ‘Thus, government steps in and subsidizes premiums to encourage more farmers to join.’
      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’
        • ‘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 for a short time.

      • ‘He had to step out of the room for a moment when the rule was being voted on.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 was attacked after the class nanny stepped out of the room to change another baby's nappy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    • 2Go out to have a good time.

      ‘he was stepping out with a redheaded waitress’
      • ‘He even switched camps, stepping out with a member of Kylie's troop, no less.’
      • ‘He was a member of a failed boyband and has been stepping out with young Samantha for three years now.’
      • ‘She has since begun stepping out with Josh, probably the coolest rock star around.’
      • ‘I'm constantly amazed at the number of gorgeous women who prefer being with a fatty to stepping out with an Adonis.’
      • ‘Sarah Reid ponders the new round of rumours suggesting he's stepping out with Sophie Dahl’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She's now stepping out with a gentleman.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    • 3Walk with long or vigorous steps.

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

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

      ‘police decided to step up security plans for the game’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Security patrols have been stepped up in the border area.’
      • ‘The visitors were stepping up their game and it was no surprise when they went further ahead in the 59th minute.’
      • ‘And as the government steps up its efforts to join the euro we can expect more traders sell sterling in anticipation.’
      • ‘Rowdy revellers and arsonists could see their antics crushed as a drive to tackle residents' worries steps up a gear.’
      • ‘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

/stɛp//step/