a. Hot water vapor produced especially by boiling liquid water.
b. Hot, pressurized water vapor used for heating, cooking, or to provide mechanical power.
a. Power generated by the expansion of boiling water as it turns to vapor: an engine at full steam.
b. Steam heating.
3. Condensed water vapor in the form of a mist or cloud: the steam from the teakettle; the steam of the oxen's breath in the cold air.
4. Power; energy: The fundraising effort ran out of steam.
v. steamed, steam·ing, steams
1. To produce or emit steam: The kettle is steaming. Let's make tea.
2. To become or rise up as steam: The rain steamed off the hot pavement.
3. To become misted or covered with steam: The bathroom mirror steamed over.
4. To move by means of steam power.
5. Informal To become very angry; fume.
1. To expose to steam, as in cooking.
2. To cover or mist with steam: The windows are steamed up.
3. Informal To make angry: His laziness really steams me.
[Middle English steme, from Old English stēam.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.