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half step

Music. semitone.
Military. a step 15 inches (38 cm) long in quick time and 18 inches (46 cm) long in double time.
Origin of half step
First recorded in 1900-05 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for half-step
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He turned around with incredible speed and took a half-step in our direction.

    The Telenizer Don Thompson
  • Johnnie took a half-step forward, when Hull pressed him back.

    House of Torment

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • He makes a half-step towards the burly mass of flesh, still shaking with laughter.

    Somehow Good William de Morgan
  • We have also just seen that in order to represent the trot the marcher at the back had to anticipate by a half-step.

  • It is necessary to adopt here another method of looking at it, and to regard the preceding as being but a half-step.

  • The steel robot took a half-step toward him, and Burckhardt involuntarily checked his stride.

  • To the ear of the author the pitch varies through an interval somewhat less than a half-step.

    Unwritten Literature of Hawaii Nathaniel Bright Emerson
  • The interval between the two tones may therefore be either a half-step or a whole-step.

  • The half-step is usually defined as "the smallest usable interval between two tones."

British Dictionary definitions for half-step


(music, US & Canadian) another word for semitone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for half-step



  1. To act tough but then back down when challenged
  2. To do something halfway, insufficiently, or incompetently
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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