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[steel] /stil/
any of various modified forms of iron, artificially produced, having a carbon content less than that of pig iron and more than that of wrought iron, and having qualities of hardness, elasticity, and strength varying according to composition and heat treatment: generally categorized as having a high, medium, or low-carbon content.
a thing or things made of this metal.
a flat strip of this metal used for stiffening, especially in corsets; stay.
a bar of this metal that has one end formed to hold a bit for driving through rock.
steels, stocks or bonds of companies producing this metal.
a sword.
a rounded rod of ridged steel, fitted with a handle and used especially for sharpening knives.
pertaining to or made of steel.
like steel in color, hardness, or strength.
verb (used with object)
to fit with steel, as by pointing, edging, or overlaying.
to cause to resemble steel in some way.
to render insensible, inflexible, unyielding, determined, etc.:
He steeled himself to perform the dangerous task.
Origin of steel
before 900; (noun) Middle English stele, Old English (north) stēle; cognate with Dutch staal, German Stahl, Old Norse stāl; (v.) Middle English stelen, Old English styled edged with steel, derivative of the noun
Related forms
steellike, adjective
presteel, noun, adjective
Can be confused
steal, steel, stele. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for steels
Historical Examples
  • And it was more inspiriting than the champagne to feel that no fresh annoyance was likely to befall the steels through him.

    The Shadow of the Rope E. W. Hornung
  • All are expectant She wavers again, and steels herself to resolution.

    Theft Jack London
  • steels may contain all the way from one tenth to one and a half per cent.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • That's his idea, and he is busy on a model made out of the steels of his wife's stays.

    The Stark Munro Letters J. Stark Munro
  • It's kitchen-day, and I do my steels and brasses before breakfast.

    Dimbie and I--and Amelia Mabel Barnes-Grundy
  • Before you white people came with your flints and steels, we had it.

    With the Indians in the Rockies James Willard Schultz
  • At first both flint and steel were very crudely made, but later on, some of the steels were very ornamental.

  • But when he smote on Trenchefer the steels rang sharp; the blow was turned.

    God Wills It! William Stearns Davis
  • These steels then normally consist of γ-iron, modified by the large amount of nickel or manganese with which it is alloyed.

  • The best of the steels had their elastic limits; there was none that did not finally snap.

    The Cup of Fury Rupert Hughes
British Dictionary definitions for steels


plural noun
(stock exchange) shares and bonds of steel companies


  1. any of various alloys based on iron containing carbon (usually 0.1–1.7 per cent) and often small quantities of other elements such as phosphorus, sulphur, manganese, chromium, and nickel. Steels exhibit a variety of properties, such as strength, machinability, malleability, etc, depending on their composition and the way they have been treated
  2. (as modifier): steel girders See also stainless steel
something that is made of steel
a steel stiffener in a corset, etc
a ridged steel rod with a handle used for sharpening knives
the quality of hardness, esp with regard to a person's character or attitudes
(stock exchange) the quotation for steel shares See also steels
(modifier) resembling steel: steel determination
verb (transitive)
to fit, plate, edge, or point with steel
to make hard and unfeeling: he steeled his heart against her sorrow, he steeled himself for the blow
Derived Forms
steely, adjective
steeliness, noun
Word Origin
Old English stēli; related to Old High German stehli, Middle Dutch stael


Danielle, full name Danielle Fernande Schüelein-Steel. born 1950, US writer of romantic fiction
Baron David (Martin Scott). born 1938, British politician; leader of the Liberal Party (1976–88); Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament (1999–2003)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for steels



Old English style, from West Germanic adjective *stakhlijan "made of steel" (cf. Old Saxon stehli, Old Norse, Middle Low German stal, Danish staal, Swedish stål, Middle Dutch stael, Dutch staal, Old High German stahal, German Stahl), related to *stakhla "standing fast," from PIE *stek-lo-, from root *stak- "to stand, place, be firm" (see stay (n.1)). No corresponding word exists outside Germanic except those likely borrowed from Germanic languages. Steel wool is attested from 1896.


"make hard or strong like steel," 1580s, figurative, from steel (n.). Related: Steeled; steeling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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steels in Science
Any of various hard, strong, flexible alloys of iron and carbon. Often, other metals are added to give steel a particular property, such as chromium and nickel to make it stainless. Steel is widely used in many kinds of tools and as a structural material in building.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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steels in the Bible

The "bow of steel" in (A.V.) 2 Sam. 22:35; Job 20:24; Ps. 18:34 is in the Revised Version "bow of brass" (Heb. kesheth-nehushah). In Jer. 15:12 the same word is used, and is also rendered in the Revised Version "brass." But more correctly it is copper (q.v.), as brass in the ordinary sense of the word (an alloy of copper and zinc) was not known to the ancients.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with steels


In addition to the idiom beginning with steel also see: mind like a steel trap
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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