- a movement made by lifting the foot and setting it down again in a new position, accompanied by a shifting of the weight of the body in the direction of the new position, as in walking, running, or dancing.
- such a movement followed by a movement of equal distance of the other foot: The soldier took one step forward and stood at attention.
- the space passed over or the distance measured by one such movement of the foot.
- the sound made by the foot in making such a movement.
- a mark or impression made by the foot on the ground; footprint.
- the manner of walking; gait; stride.
- pace in marching: double-quick step.
- a pace uniform with that of another or others, or in time with music.
- steps, movements or course in walking or running: to retrace one's steps.
- a move, act, or proceeding, as toward some end or in the general course of some action; stage, measure, or period: the five steps to success.
- rank, degree, or grade, as on a vertical scale.
- a support for the foot in ascending or descending: a step of a ladder; a stair of 14 steps.
- a very short distance: She was never more than a step away from her children.
- a repeated pattern or unit of movement in a dance formed by a combination of foot and body motions.
- step aerobics.
- steps, British. a stepladder.
- an offset part of anything.
- Nautical. a socket, frame, or platform for supporting the lower end of a mast.
- Mining. a flat-topped ledge on the face of a quarry or a mine working.
- to move, go, etc., by lifting the foot and setting it down again in a new position, or by using the feet alternately in this manner: to step forward.
- to walk, or go on foot, especially for a few strides or a short distance: Step over to the bar.
- to move with measured steps, as in a dance.
- to go briskly or fast, as a horse.
- to obtain, find, win, come upon, etc., something easily and naturally, as if by a mere step of the foot: to step into a good business opportunity.
- to put the foot down; tread by intention or accident: to step on a cat's tail.
- to press with the foot, as on a lever, spring, or the like, in order to operate some mechanism.
- to take (a step, pace, stride, etc.).
- to go through or perform the steps of (a dance).
- to move or set (the foot) in taking a step.
- to measure (a distance, ground, etc.) by steps (sometimes followed by off or out).
- to make or arrange in the manner of a series of steps.
- Nautical. to fix (a mast) in its step.
- step down,
- to lower or decrease by degrees.
- to relinquish one's authority or control; resign: Although he was past retirement age, he refused to step down and let his son take over the business.
- step in, to become involved; intervene, as in a quarrel or fight: The brawl was well under way by the time the police stepped in.
- step out,
- to leave a place, especially for a brief period of time.
- to walk or march at a more rapid pace.
- to go out to a social gathering or on a date: We're stepping out tonight.
- step up,
- to raise or increase by degrees: to step up production.
- to be promoted; advance.
- to make progress; improve.
- break step, to interrupt or cease walking or marching in step: The marching units were allowed to break step after they had passed the reviewing stand.
- in step,
- moving in time to a rhythm or with the corresponding step of others.
- in harmony or conformity with: They are not in step with the times.
- keep step, to keep pace; stay in step: The construction of classrooms and the training of teachers have not kept step with population growth.
- out of step,
- not in time to a rhythm or corresponding to the step of others.
- not in harmony or conformity with: They are out of step with the others in their group.
- step by step,
- from one stage to the next in sequence.
- gradually and steadily: We were shown the steelmaking process step by step.
- step on it, Informal. to hasten one's activity or steps; hurry up: If we don't step on it, we'll miss the show.
- take steps, to set about putting something into operation; begin to act: I will take steps to see that your application is processed.
- watch one's step, to proceed with caution; behave prudently: If she doesn't watch her step, she will be fired from her job.
Origin of step
- the act of motion brought about by raising the foot and setting it down again in coordination with the transference of the weight of the body
- the distance or space covered by such a motion
- the sound made by such a movement
- the impression made by such movement of the foot; footprint
- the manner of walking or moving the feet; gaithe received his prize with a proud step
- a sequence of foot movements that make up a particular dance or part of a danceI have mastered the steps of the waltz
- any of several paces or rhythmic movements in marching, dancing, etcthe goose step
- (plural) a course followed by a person in walking or as walkingthey followed in their leader's steps
- one of a sequence of separate consecutive stages in the progression towards some goalanother step towards socialism
- a rank or grade in a series or scalehe was always a step behind
- an object or device that offers support for the foot when ascending or descending
- (plural) a flight of stairs, esp out of doors
- (plural) another name for stepladder
- a very short easily walked distanceit is only a step to my place
- music a melodic interval of a secondSee whole tone, half-step
- an offset or change in the level of a surface similar to the step of a stair
- a strong block or frame bolted onto the keel of a vessel and fitted to receive the base of a mast
- a ledge cut in mining or quarrying excavations
- break step to cease to march in step
- in step
- marching, dancing, etc, in conformity with a specified pace or moving in unison with others
- informalin agreement or harmony
- keep step to remain walking, marching, dancing, etc, in unison or in a specified rhythm
- out of step
- not moving in conformity with a specified pace or in accordance with others
- informalnot in agreement; out of harmony
- step by step with care and deliberation; gradually
- take steps to undertake measures (to do something) with a view to the attainment of some end
- watch one's step
- informalto conduct oneself with caution and good behaviour
- to walk or move carefully
- (intr) to move by raising the foot and then setting it down in a different position, transferring the weight of the body to this foot and repeating the process with the other foot
- (intr; often foll by in, out, etc) to move or go on foot, esp for a short distancestep this way, ladies
- (intr) informal, mainly US to move, often in an attractive graceful manner, as in dancinghe can really step around
- (intr; usually foll by on or upon) to place or press the foot; treadto step on the accelerator
- (intr usually foll by into) to enter (into a situation) apparently with easeshe stepped into a life of luxury
- (tr) to walk or take (a number of paces, etc)to step ten paces
- (tr) to perform the steps ofthey step the tango well
- (tr) to set or place (the foot)
- (tr; usually foll by off or out) to measure (some distance of ground) by stepping
- (tr) to arrange in or supply with a series of steps so as to avoid coincidence or symmetry
- (tr) to raise (a mast) and fit it into its step
- a set of aerobic exercises designed to improve the cardiovascular system, which consists of stepping on and off a special box of adjustable height
- (as modifier)Step aerobics
- Special Temporary Employment Programme
Word Origin and History for watch one's step
Old English steppan (Anglian), stæppan (West Saxon) "take a step," from West Germanic *stap- "tread" (cf. Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Dutch stap, Old High German stapfo, German stapfe "footstep"), from PIE root *stebh- "to tread, step" (cf. Old Church Slavonic stopa "step, pace," stepeni "step, degree"). Originally strong (past tense stop, past participle bestapen); weak forms emerged 13c., universal from 16c. Stepping stone first recorded early 14c.; in the figurative sense 1650s. Step on it "hurry up" is 1923, from notion of gas pedal; step out (v.) is from 1907.
Old English steppa (Mercian), stæpe, stepe (West Saxon) "stair, act of stepping," from the source of step (v.). Meaning "action which leads toward a result" is recorded from 1540s. Warning phrase watch your step is attested from 1934. Step-dancing first recorded 1886.
Idioms and Phrases with watch one's step
watch one's step
Exercise caution, as in You'd better watch your step talking to them about a merger. Often put as an admonition, this phrase transfers taking care in walking to other kinds of caution. [First half of 1900s]