1. the arched upper surface of the human foot between the toes and the ankle.
  2. the part of a shoe, stocking, etc., covering this surface.
  3. the front of the hind leg of a horse, cow, etc., between the hock and the pastern joint; cannon.

Origin of instep

1520–30; apparently in-1 + step Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for in-steps


  1. the middle section of the human foot, forming the arch between the ankle and toes
  2. the part of a shoe, stocking, etc, covering this

Word Origin for instep

C16: probably from in- ² + step
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

Word Origin and History for in-steps



mid-15c., apparently from in + step, "though this hardly makes sense" [Weekley]. An Old English word for "instep" was fotwelm. Middle English also had a verb instep "to track, trace" (c.1400).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

in-steps in Medicine


  1. The arched middle part of the foot between toes and ankle.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.