[ step-wahyz ]
/ ˈstɛpˌwaɪz /


in a steplike arrangement.
Music. from one adjacent tone to another: The melody ascends stepwise.


Music. moving from one adjacent tone to another: stepwise melodic progression.

Origin of stepwise

First recorded in 1885–90; step + -wise Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for stepwise

  • Remember that it is easiest to leap from one register to a higher, a stepwise ascent being an insidious snare.

    The Boy's Voice|J. Spencer Curwen
  • So at a definite, measurable rate this stepwise disintegration proceeds.

    A Brief Account of Radio-activity|Francis Preston Venable
  • When the syncopated note belongs to the harmony of the measure, it may be left by a skip or stepwise progression.

  • When the music moves about stepwise in close proximity above and below the breaks, we have another cause of flattening.

    The Boy's Voice|J. Spencer Curwen

British Dictionary definitions for stepwise

/ (ˈstɛpˌwaɪz) /


arranged in the manner of or resembling steps
music, US proceeding by melodic intervals of a second


with the form or appearance of steps; step by step
music, US in a stepwise motion
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