Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A vast semiarid grass-covered plain, as found in southeast Europe, Siberia, and central North America.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The grasslands of Eastern Europe and Asia. Similar to (US) prairie and (African) savannah.
  • n. More properly, the name given vast cold, dry grass-plains.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of the vast plains in Southeastern Europe and in Asia, generally elevated, and free from wood, analogous to many of the prairies in Western North America. See savanna.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A more or less level tract devoid of trees: a name given to certain parts of European and Asiatic Russia, of which the most characteristic feature is the absence of forests.
  • n. In phytogeography, xerophilous grassland. This formation as met, with at high elevations is distinguished as alpine steppe.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. extensive plain without trees (associated with eastern Russia and Siberia)

Etymologies

German, from Russian step'.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1671. From German or French, in turn from Russian степь (step’, "flat grassy plain") or Ukrainian степ (step). There is no generally accepted earlier etymology, but there is a speculative Old East Slavic reconstruction *сътепь (sъtep’), related to топот (tópot), топтать (toptát’). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • With its famous black soil, the Ukrainian steppe is one of the most fertile regions in world but the legacy of Soviet collectivisation means agriculture is not as efficient as in other countries.

    Grain oligarch says grain price rises 'hysterical'

  • The word steppe, or step, is Russian, and not Tartarian.

    Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America, During the Year 1799-1804 — Volume 2

  • Generally, the steppe is a transitional belt surrounding the desert and separating it from humid climates beyond.

    Dry Domain (Bailey)

  • The steppe was a vast plain that shone with ponds and corkscrew rivers and evoked a wistful sadness.

    Wolves Eat Dogs

  • It is a great chalky plateau, and might almost be called a steppe or prairie.

    Expositions of Holy Scripture

  • The one major geographic feature other than the steppe are the Tien Shan mountains, a range that divides Central Asia from South Asia and China.

    Webmaster Forum

  • The collembolan Vertagopus brevicaudus a "steppe" species; bbizonal steppe and tundra species; cthis group characterizes the southern tundra subzone; dthis group is relatively small, but is valuable in subdividing the tundra zone into subzones.

    Implications of current species distributions for future biotic change in the Arctic

  • The potential natural vegetation is mostly sagebrush steppe which is distinct from that of the surrounding ecoregions.

    Ecoregions of Montana (EPA)

  • On the higher plateau, the vegetation comprises different steppe types depending on edaphic factors, such as steppe of Stipa tenacissima in the sides of the Atlas and glacis with argilo-sandy soils; steppe of Artemisia "Herba alba" in the glacis and depressions that are silty; steppe of Lygeum spartum which follows sandy accumulations.

    Mediterranean dry woodlands and steppe

  • Evidence suggests that a kind of steppe-forest with scattered trees and more extensive grasses may have once occupied much of this area, but centuries of grazing and fuel-wood collection have changed its ecological character.

    Middle East steppe

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