• synonyms


  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.
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Origin of instep

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

Examples from the Web for instep

Historical Examples

  • He rose with the blow; all his energy, from wrist to instep, was in that lifting drive.

    Way of the Lawless

    Max Brand

  • No tree has so fair a bole and so handsome an instep as the beech.

  • All at once he noticed a rent in his trousers, between the knee and the instep.

  • He seized it, heel in one hand, instep in the other, and gyrated it.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • Her slippers were of the same colour, with black bows at the instep.

    The Arrow of Gold

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for instep


  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
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Word Origin

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 instep


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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

instep in Medicine


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