or step·up

[ step-uhp ]
/ ˈstɛpˌʌp /


effecting an increase.
Electricity. serving to increase voltage: a step-up transformer.
(of a lease) allowing for gradual rent increases to the highest amount permissible.


an increase or rise in the rate or quantity of something.

Nearby words

  1. step-down,
  2. step-in,
  3. step-off,
  4. step-on,
  5. step-parent,
  6. stepanakert,
  7. stepbrother,
  8. stepchair,
  9. stepchild,
  10. stepdame

Origin of step-up

First recorded in 1890–95; adj., noun use of verb phrase step up

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 up

step up

verb (adverb) informal

(tr) to increase or raise by stages; accelerate
(intr) to make progress or effect an advancement; be promoted
step up to the plate US
  1. baseball to move into batting position
  2. to come forward and take responsibility for something

adjective step-up (prenominal)

(of a transformer) increasing a low voltage applied to the primary winding to a higher voltage on the secondary windingCompare step down (def. 4)
informal involving a rise by stages

noun step-up

informal an increment in quantity, size, etc


/ (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 up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with step up

step up


Increase, especially in stages, as in We've got to step up production. [Early 1900s] Also see step down, def. 2.


Come forward, as in Step up to the podium, folks, and I'll show you how it works. [Mid-1600s]


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.