[ step-in ]
/ ˈstɛpˌɪn /


(of garments, shoes, etc.) put on by being stepped into.


step-ins, panties, especially bias-cut panties with wide legs worn by women in the 1920s and 1930s.
any step-in garment.

Nearby words

  1. step up,
  2. step-,
  3. step-and-repeat,
  4. step-by-step,
  5. step-down,
  6. step-off,
  7. step-on,
  8. step-parent,
  9. step-up,
  10. stepanakert

Origin of step-in

First recorded in 1920–25; adj., noun use of verb phrase step in

Origin of step

before 900; (v.) Middle English steppen, Old English steppan; cognate with Old High German stepfen; akin to stamp; (noun) Middle English; Old English stepe

Related forms
Can be confusedstep steppe Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for step in

step in


(intr, adverb) informal to intervene or involve oneself, esp dramatically or at a senior level

adjective step-in

(prenominal) (of garments, etc) put on by being stepped into; without fastenings
(of a ski binding) engaging automatically when the boot is positioned on the ski

noun step-in

(often plural) a step-in garment, esp underwear


/ (stɛp) /


verb steps, stepping or stepped

Derived Formssteplike, adjective

Word Origin for step

Old English stepe, stæpe; related to Old Frisian stap, stepe, Old High German stapfo (German Stapfe footprint), Old Norse stapi high rock


/ (stɛp) /


  1. a set of aerobic exercises designed to improve the cardiovascular system, which consists of stepping on and off a special box of adjustable height
  2. (as modifier)Step aerobics


/ (stɛp) /

n acronym for

Special Temporary Employment Programme
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 step in
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with step in

step in

Enter into an activity or situation; also, intervene. For example, The business was doing poorly until Stan stepped in, or They are going to make a mess of the mailing unless someone steps in and shows them what to do. [Late 1400s] Also see step into.


In addition to the idioms beginning with step

  • step aside
  • step by step
  • step down
  • step in
  • step in the right direction, a
  • step into
  • step into someone's shoes
  • step on it
  • step on someone's toes
  • step out
  • step out of line
  • step up

also see:

  • false step
  • in step
  • (step) out of line
  • take steps
  • watch one's step
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.