something propelled or operated by steam, as a steamship.
a person or thing that steams.
a device, pot, or container in which something is steamed.

verb (used without object)

to travel by steamship.

Origin of steamer

First recorded in 1805–15; steam + -er1




water in the form of an invisible gas or vapor.
water changed to this form by boiling, extensively used for the generation of mechanical power, for heating purposes, etc.
the mist formed when the gas or vapor from boiling water condenses in the air.
an exhalation of a vapor or mist.
Informal. power or energy.

verb (used without object)

to emit or give off steam or vapor.
to rise or pass off in the form of steam or vapor.
to become covered with condensed steam, as a window or other surface (often followed by up).
to generate or produce steam, as in a boiler.
to move or travel by the agency of steam.
to move rapidly or evenly: He steamed out of the room.
Informal. to be angry or show anger: Fans are still steaming from Monday night’s sloppy 5-4 loss.

verb (used with object)

to expose to or treat with steam, as in order to heat, cook, soften, renovate, or the like.
to emit or exhale (steam or vapor).
Informal. to cause to become irked or angry (often followed by up).
to convey by the agency of steam: to steam the ship safely into port.


heated by or heating with steam: a steam radiator.
propelled by or propelling with a steam engine.
operated by steam.
conducting steam: a steam line.
bathed with or affected by steam.
of or relating to steam.

Origin of steam

before 1000; Middle English steme, Old English stēam; cognate with Dutch stoom
Related formssteam·less, adjectiveout·steam, verb (used with object)pre·steam, adjective, verb (used with object)un·steamed, adjectiveun·steam·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for steamer

Contemporary Examples of steamer

Historical Examples of steamer

  • Wrap in a strip of gauze or cheesecloth and place in a steamer.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 3

    Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences

  • The daily paper would mean the daily steamer or the daily train.

  • And you were going home that night we made you miss your steamer!

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Yet he was conscious that his will was weakening; that he did not mean to go down to the steamer just yet.

  • The steamer's deck was covered with ice, over which sand had been strewn.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

British Dictionary definitions for steamer



a boat or ship driven by steam engines
Also called: steam box an apparatus for steaming wooden beams and planks to make them pliable for shipbuilding
a vessel used to cook food by steam
Australian slang a clash of sporting teams characterized by rough play



the gas or vapour into which water is changed when boiled
the mist formed when such gas or vapour condenses in the atmosphere
any vaporous exhalation
informal power, energy, or speed
get up steam
  1. (of a ship, etc) to work up a sufficient head of steam in a boiler to drive an engine
  2. informalto go quickly
let off steam informal to release pent-up energy or emotions
under one's own steam without the assistance of others
Australian slang cheap wine
(modifier) driven, operated, heated, powered, etc, by steama steam radiator
(modifier) treated by steamsteam ironed; steam cleaning
(modifier) jocular old-fashioned; outmodedsteam radio


to emit or be emitted as steam
(intr) to generate steam, as a boiler, etc
(intr) to move or travel by steam power, as a ship, etc
(intr) informal to proceed quickly and sometimes forcefully
to cook or be cooked in steam
(tr) to treat with steam or apply steam to, as in cleaning, pressing clothes, etc
See also steam up

Word Origin for steam

Old English; related to Dutch stoom steam, perhaps to Old High German stioban to raise dust, Gothic stubjus dust
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 steamer

1814 in the cookery sense, agent noun from steam (v.). From 1825 as "a vessel propelled by steam," hence steamer trunk (1885), one that carries the essentials for a voyage.



Old English steam "vapor, fume," from Proto-Germanic *staumaz (cf. Dutch stoom), of unknown origin. Steam age first attested 1941. Steam heat as a method of temperature control recorded from 1904.



Old English stemen, stymen "to emit a scent or odor," from the root of steam (n.). Slang meaning "to make angry" is from 1922. Related: Steamed; steaming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

steamer in Science



Water in its gaseous state, especially at a temperature above the boiling point of water (above 100°C, or 212°F, at sea level). See Note at vapor.
A mist of condensed water vapor.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with steamer


see blow off steam; full speed (steam) ahead; get up steam; run out of steam; under one's own steam.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.