American English

Definition of step noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] the act of lifting your foot and putting it down in order to walk or move somewhere; the sound this makes a baby's first steps He took a step toward the door. We heard steps outside. see also footstep, goose step
  2. way of walking
  3. 2[countable, usually singular] the way that someone walks He walked with a quick light step. There was a smile on her face and a spring in her step.
  4. distance
  5. 3[countable] the distance that you cover when you take a step It's only a few steps further. He turned around and retraced his steps (= went back the way he had come). She moved a step closer to me. The hotel is only a few steps from the beach.
  6. in series/process
  7. 4[countable] one of a series of things that you do in order to achieve something This was a first step toward merging the two unions. It's a big step giving up your job and moving halfway across the world. We are taking steps to prevent pollution. This won't solve the problem, but it's a step in the right direction. The new drug is a major step forward in the treatment of the disease. Closing the factory would be a retrograde step. Thesaurusactionmeasure step act moveThese are all words for a thing that someone does.action a thing that someone does:Her quick action saved the child's life.measure an official action that is done in order to achieve a particular aim:The government introduced tougher security measures last summer.step one of a series of things that you do in order to achieve something:This work is a first step towards our eventual goal.act a thing that someone does:an act of kindnessaction or act?These two words have the same meaning but are used in different patterns. An act is usually followed by of and/or used with an adjective. Action is not usually used with of but is often used with his, her, etc.:a heroic act of bravery a heroic action of bravery her heroic actions/acts during the war.Action often combines with take but act does not:We will take whatever action is necessary. We will take whatever acts are necessary.move (used especially in journalism) an action that you do or need to do to achieve something:They are waiting for the results of the opinion polls before deciding their next move.Patterns to take action/measures/steps to make a move a heroic/brave/daring action/step/act/move
  8. 5[countable] one of a series of things that someone does or that happen, which forms part of a process synonym stage Having completed the first stage, you can move on to step 2. I'd like to take this idea a step further. This was a big step up (= to a better position) in his career. I'll explain it to you step by step. a step-by-step guide to building your own home
  9. stair
  10. 6 [countable] a surface that you put your foot on in order to walk to a higher or lower level, especially one of a series She was sitting on the bottom step of the staircase. We walked down some stone steps to the beach. A short flight of steps led up to the door.
  11. in dance
  12. 7[countable, usually plural] a series of movements that you make with your feet, that form a dance Do you know the steps of this dance? see also quickstep
  13. exercise
  14. 8[uncountable] (often in compounds) a type of exercise that you do by stepping on and off a raised piece of equipment step aerobics a step class
  15. in music
  16. 9[countable] the interval between two notes that are next to each other in a scale compare tone
  17. Idioms to change the way you are walking so that you do not walk in the same rhythm as the people you are walking or marching with The soldiers turned without once breaking step.
    fall into step (beside/with somebody)
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    to change the way you are walking so that you start walking in the same rhythm as the person you are walking with He caught up with her and fell into step beside her.
      in/out of step (with somebody/something)
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    1. 1putting your feet on the ground in the right/wrong way, according to the rhythm of the music or the people you are moving with
    2. 2having ideas that are the same as or different from other people's She was out of step with her colleagues.
    one step forward, two steps back (saying)
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    used to say that every time you make progress, something bad happens that makes the situation worse than before
    a/one step ahead (of somebody/something)
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    when you are one step ahead of someone or something, you manage to avoid them or to achieve something more quickly than they do
    a/one step at a time
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    when you do something one step at a time, you do it slowly and gradually
      watch your step
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    1. 1to walk carefully
    2. 2to behave in a careful and sensible way You'd better watch your step with him if you don't want trouble.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: step