Definition of steel in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /stēl/


1A hard, strong, gray or bluish-gray alloy of iron with carbon and usually other elements, used extensively as a structural and fabricating material.
Example sentences
  • This shining metal was not raw iron but hard steel, which bent the softer wrought-iron blades of the Gauls.
  • Adding carbon to iron to make steel does make it stronger and tougher, up to a point.
  • Carbon steel is an alloy of iron with small amounts of Mn, S, P, and Si. Alloy steels are carbon steels with other additives such as nickel, chromium, vanadium, etc.
1.1Used as a symbol or embodiment of strength and firmness: nerves of steel [as modifier]: a steel will
More example sentences
  • The big Castlewellan player showed nerves of steel to hammer the ball through the uprights and square the match.
  • It's all very well playing great football but you also need a bit of strength and steel about you to make sure you don't concede goals like that.
  • Tristan grabbed me right back from him and anchored me to his side with the strength of steel.
1.2A rod of roughened steel on which knives are sharpened.
Example sentences
  • With it I demonstrate that it is impossible to cut yourself when sharpening on a steel as long as you use Neville knives.


[with object]
Mentally prepare (oneself) to do or face something difficult: I speak quickly, steeling myself for a mean reply
More example sentences
  • It's all because I'm mentally steeling myself in preparation for next Monday.
  • Stiffening, his hand gravitating to his sword hilt, Ikeda steeled himself, preparing for any situation.
  • When that was confirmed I realised I had actually been steeling myself in preparation.
brace oneself, nerve oneself, summon (up) one's courage, screw up one's courage, gear oneself up, prepare oneself, get in the right frame of mind;
fortify oneself, harden oneself
informal psych oneself up
literary gird (up) one's loins


Old English stȳle, stēli, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch staal, German Stahl, also to stay2. The verb dates from the late 16th century.

Words that rhyme with steel

allele, anele, anneal, appeal, Bastille, Beale, Castile, chenille, cochineal, cockatiel, conceal, congeal, creel, deal, eel, Emile, feel, freewheel, genteel, Guayaquil, heal, heel, he'll, keel, Kiel, kneel, leal, Lille, Lucille, manchineel, meal, misdeal, Neil, O'Neill, ordeal, peal, peel, reel, schlemiel, seal, seel, she'll, spiel, squeal, steal, Steele, teal, underseal, veal, weal, we'll, wheel, zeal

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: steel

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.