The Meaning of Steep: What It Is and How To Use It

This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word steep, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word steep mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Vocabulary, the word steep (pronounced stiːp) can be used as either an adjective or a verb. As an adjective, the word steep can be used to mean lofty or high, as well as inclining at a large angle, high gradient, ascent or vertical slope. This can also be used in reference to cost, meaning that something is very expensive. As a verb, this word means to soak something in a liquid. This is commonly used in reference to tea; a tea bag might have a set of instructions telling you to steep the tea leaves in boiling water for a certain amount of time, or the malting of alcohol. One might find steep cliffs on the side of a mountain, a steep barometric gradient, or a steep ascent on a hike, or one might notice how a steep roof sheds snow in the winter. This is a very versatile word and can be used in many different contexts and settings. Make sure that you provide the listener with the proper context so that they can infer the correct intended meaning of the word steep. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean steep. You may notice that some of these words look quite similar to each other. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that look, sound, and mean the same thing across languages. Cognates are often formed when two words have the same root of language of origin. This list of translations for the word steep is provided by Word Sense

  • Dutch: steil‎
  • Turkish: dik‎
  • Czech: prudký‎ (masc.)
  • Polish: stromy‎
  • Swedish: brant‎
  • Georgian: ფრიალო‎, ციცაბო‎
  • Finnish: jyrkkä‎
  • Portuguese: íngreme‎, íngrime‎
  • German: steil‎
  • Italian: scosceso‎, ripido‎, erto‎
  • Romanian: abrupt‎
  • Catalan: escarpat‎
  • Cyrillic: стрмо‎ (neut.)
  • Maori: tākau‎, tāheke‎
  • Norman: raide‎ (masc.) (fem.)
  • Hungarian: meredek‎
  • Latin: praeruptus‎ (masc.)
  • Sorani: لێژ‎
  • Russian: круто́й‎
  • Esperanto: kruta‎
  • Slovene: strm‎ (masc.), strmo‎ (neut.)
  • Norwegian: bratt‎
  • Occitan: escarpat‎, abrupt‎, escalabrós‎
  • Roman: strmo‎ (neut.)
  • Greek: απότομος‎
  • Spanish: inclinado‎, escarpado‎, empinado‎, acantilado‎, precipitoso‎, abrupto‎
  • Bashkir: текә‎
  • Icelandic: brattur‎ (masc.), hallur‎ (masc.), (very steep) snarbrattur‎ (masc.)
  • Korean: 가파르다‎ (gapareuda)
  • Malay: cerun‎, curam‎
  • Hebrew: תלול‎ (masc.)
  • French: escarpé‎, abrupt‎

How can the word steep be used in a sentence?

The word steep can be used in many different contexts since it has multiple definitions, including unconscionable spending or a sharp slope. First, the word steep will be used to describe something that inclines at a high angle. 

Friend 1: Wow, that’s quite a steep incline we have ahead of us.

Friend 2: Yes, the mountain does look quite steep, but the trail is actually pretty gradual. Don’t worry, we’ll take lots of breaks. 

Next, it will be used to mean a high price.

Son: Dad, could I have some money to take Linny to the movies on Friday?

Dad: Sure, how much is it?

Son: Like fifty bucks with popcorn and everything.

Dad: Wow! Movie prices are steep these days. 

Finally, the word steep will be used as a verb to mean to soak in a liquid for a certain period of time.

Woman 1: Hey hon, I’m going to hop in the shower. When the kettle goes off could you pour it into my mug and let it steep for four minutes?

Woman 2: Of course!

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word steep?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word steep. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Synonyms are an easy way to expand your vocabulary and they can also help you avoid repeating the same word over and over again. This list of synonyms for the word steep is provided by Thesaurus

  • raised
  • soaring
  • sharp
  • sky-high
  • lofty
  • alpine
  • uprisen
  • long
  • large
  • aerial
  • high
  • formidable
  • gigantic
  • colossal
  • eminent
  • flying
  • upraised
  • uplifted
  • straight-up
  • hilly
  • prerupt
  • big
  • tremendous
  • stately
  • grand
  • high rise
  • declivitous
  • immense
  • altitudinous
  • tall
  • hovering
  • upheaved
  • sheer
  • headlong
  • precipitate
  • precipitous
  • elevated
  • erect
  • steep
  • high-rise
  • great
  • giant
  • sky-scraping
  • perpendicular
  • breakneck
  • lifted
  • towering
  • arduous
  • high-reaching
  • huge
  • abrupt

There are also numerous different words and phrases that mean the opposite of the word steep. These are called antonyms, which are another quick and simple way to expand your English vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word steep is also provided by Thesaurus

  • progressive
  • reposeful
  • mild
  • graduate
  • slow
  • cool
  • step-by-step
  • waveless
  • gentle
  • restful
  • hushed
  • moderation
  • gradient
  • unruffled
  • windless
  • low-key
  • by degrees
  • steady
  • quiescent
  • smooth
  • tranquil
  • continuous
  • bland
  • creeping
  • regular
  • undisturbed
  • bit-by-bit
  • soothing
  • in order
  • harmonious
  • bucolic
  • inactive
  • breathless
  • at a standstill
  • pacific
  • at peace
  • still
  • serene
  • piecemeal
  • motionless
  • moderate
  • even
  • pastoral
  • rural
  • unhurried
  • placid
  • slow
  • reposing
  • halcyon
  • stormless
  • breezeless
  • successive

What is the origin of the word steep?

According to Etymonline, the word steep comes from the Old English steep and Olr English ​stēap and Old English ​stēpan meaning high or lofty. This comes from the Middle-English stepe, from the Proto-Germanic staupa, which also formed the Middle Dutch stōp and Swedish stöpa, from the Proto-Indo-European root steup, from steu meaning to push or beat. This word has been used to mean precipitous since the year 1200, as as a slang word for having a high price since 1856. Related words include the adverb steeply and the noun steepness. The word steep has been used as a verb meaning to soak in a liquid since the early 14th century, which is of unknown origin. It is possible that it is related to the Old Norse steypa meaning to pour or throw out. This might be from the Proto-Germanic staupijanan. Related words include steepen, steeple, stink, stock, stoop, stub, study, stupid, stutter, and type. 

Overall, the word steep can be used as an adjective or a verb. As an adjective, this word can mean lofty or high, inclining at a steep angle and having a big increase in its vertical gradient, or having a high price, such as exorbitant rent or other extortionate prices or an outrageous amount outside the bounds of reason. As a verb, this word means to soak in a liquid, such as the germination of seeds in a fertilizing liquid. Try using this word of the day or other new words in a sentence today! 

Sources:

  1. https://www.wordsense.eu/steep/
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/steep
  3. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/steep
  4. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/steep
  5. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/gradual
  6. https://www.etymonline.com/word/steep