Etymology: Middle English stem, from Old English stēam; akin to Dutch stoom steam
Date: before 12th century
1. a vapor arising from a heated substance
a. the invisible vapor into which water is converted when heated to the boiling point
b. the mist formed by the condensation on cooling of water vapor
a. water vapor kept under pressure so as to supply energy for heating, cooking, or mechanical work; also the power so generated
b. active force ; power, momentum <got there under his own steam> <sales began to pick up steam>; also normal force <at full steam> c. pent-up emotional tension <needed to let off a little steam> 4. a. steamer 2a b. travel by or a trip in a steamer II. verb Date: 15th century transitive verb 1. to give out as fumes ; exhale 2. to apply steam to; especially to expose to the action of steam (as for softening or cooking) intransitive verb 1. to rise or pass off as vapor 2. to give off steam or vapor 3. a. to move or travel by the agency of steam b. to move or proceed with energy or force 4. to be angry ; boil <steaming over the insult>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.