Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun In phytogeography, xerophilous grassland. This formation as met, with at high elevations is distinguished as alpine steppe.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • noun (Far.) See Rinderpest.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[German, from Russian step'.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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’).

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