- to guide the course of (something in motion) by a rudder, helm, wheel, etc.: to steer a bicycle.
- to follow or pursue (a particular course).
- to direct the course of; guide: I can steer you to the best restaurant in town.
- to direct the course of a vessel, vehicle, airplane, or the like, by the use of a rudder or other means.
- to pursue a course of action.
- (of a vessel, vehicle, airplane, etc.) to be steered or guided in a particular direction or manner.
- Informal. a suggestion about a course of action; tip: He got a good steer about finding the right job.
- steer clear of, to stay away from purposely; avoid: She steered clear of any deep emotional involvements.
Origin of steer1
- to direct the course of (a vehicle or vessel) with a steering wheel, rudder, etc
- (tr) to guide with tuitionhis teachers steered him through his exams
- (tr) to direct the movements or course of (a person, conversation, etc)
- to pursue (a specified course)
- (intr) (of a vessel, vehicle, etc) to admit of being guided in a specified fashionthis boat does not steer properly
- steer clear of to keep away from; shun
- mainly US information; guidance (esp in the phrase a bum steer)
- a castrated male ox or bull; bullock
Word Origin and History for steer clear of
"guide the course of a vehicle," Old English steran (Mercian), stieran (West Saxon), from Proto-Germanic *steurijanan (cf. Old Norse styra, Old Frisian stiora, Dutch sturen, Old High German stiuren, German steuern "to steer," Gothic stiurjan "to establish, assert"), related to *steuro "a rudder, a steering" (cf. Old English steor "helm, rudder," German Steuer and first element in starboard), from PIE *steu-ro- (cf. Greek stauros "stake, pole"), from root *sta- "to stand" (see stet).
The notion is of a stiff, upright pillar or post used in steering. To steer clear of in the figurative sense of "to avoid completely" is recorded from 1723. Related: Steered; steering. Steering committee in the U.S. political sense is recorded from 1887.
"young ox," Old English steor "bullock," from Proto-Germanic *steuraz (cf. Old Saxon stior, Old Norse stjorr, Swedish tjur, Danish tyr, Middle Dutch, Dutch, German stier, Gothic stiur "bull"), perhaps from PIE *steu-ro-, a root denoting "strength, sturdiness" (see taurus).
Idioms and Phrases with steer clear of
steer clear of
Stay away from, avoid, as in Dad warned us to steer clear of Dr. Smith and his poor advice. This idiom alludes to guiding a vessel away from some obstacle. Its figurative use was first recorded in 1723.
In addition to the idiom beginning with steer
- steer clear of
- bum steer