Definition of step noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//step//
    ; NAmE NAmE//step//
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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 towards the door. We heard steps outside. see also footstep, goose-step
  2. way of walking
  3. 2[countable, usually singular] the way that somebody 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 short step 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 towards a united Europe. 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. Synonymsactionmeasure step act moveThese are all words for a thing that somebody does.action a thing that somebody does:Her quick action saved the child’s life.measure an official action that is done in order to achieve a particular aim:Tougher measures against racism are needed.step one of a series of things that you do in order to achieve something:This was a first step towards a united Europe.act a thing that somebody 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 his heroic actions/​acts during the war. Action often combines with take but act does not:We shall 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 step/​move a heroic/​brave/​daring action/​step/​act/​move
  8. 5  [countable] one of a series of things that somebody 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. see also doorstep
  11. in dance
  12. 7[countable, usually plural] a series of movements that you make with your feet and which form a dance Do you know the steps of this dance? see also quickstep Wordfinderballet, ballroom, band, choreograph, dance, floor, folk dance, music, partner, step
  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 See related entries: Exercise
  15. ladder
  16. 9steps [plural] (British English) a stepladder a pair of steps We need the steps to get into the attic.
  17. in music
  18. 10[countable] (North American English) the interval between two notes that are next to each other in a scale compare tone, semitone
  19. Word OriginOld English stæpe, stepe (noun), stæppan, steppan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch steppen and German stapfen.Extra examples Greece moved a step closer to the final with last night’s win. He executed some dance steps for the judges. He executed some jive steps on the pavement. He grew fainter with every step. He lagged a few steps behind. He took a hesitant step towards her. He was out of step with the music. He’d only gone a few steps when he realized he’d left his keys behind. I gasped and took an involuntary step back. I had a spring in my step when I walked into that office for the last time. I shall take immediate steps to have this matter put right. If he goes one step further with this crazy idea, I’ll resign. If you follow all the steps, nothing will go wrong. It suddenly struck her that having a baby was an irrevocable step. It’s only a short step from disorder to complete chaos. Mind the step! One false step could mean disaster. She had trouble keeping in step with the others. She paused on the top step. She was only a step away from the cliff edge. She went up a flight of steps to the side entrance. She’s always one step ahead of the competition. The front steps lead to an enormous terrace. The move was a first step in establishing a union. The new law is seen by many as a backward step. The new speed limit does not solve the problem, but it is a step in the right direction. The offer constitutes a considerable step forward. The talks mark a step towards peace. There are three steps down to the garden. They have taken their first tentative steps towards democracy. This can only be seen as a step backward. We shall take all necessary steps to prevent public disorder. We’ve moved a step closer to independence. What’s the next step? You have to go up four flights of steps to get up to the roof. You might find your ticket if you retrace your steps back to the car. a step-by-step guide to setting up an aquarium He turned and retraced his steps. I could hear his steps coming closer. I quickened my step. I recognized her quick light step. I was growing more and more nervous with every step. I’d like to take this idea a step further. I’ll explain it to you step by step. Keep on moving—it’s only a few steps further. Take two steps forward and one step back. The promotion was a big step up in his career. There was a new spring in his step. This won’t solve the problem but it’s a step in the right direction. What I need is a step-by-step guide to building your own home. the baby’s first stepsIdioms 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 her up 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.
    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.
    one step forward, two steps back
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    (saying) used to say that every time you make progress, something bad happens that means that the situation is worse than before
    a/one step ahead (of somebody/something)
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    when you are one step ahead of somebody/something, you manage to avoid them or to achieve something more quickly than they do
    when you do something one step at a time you do it slowly and gradually
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: step