Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Family ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Family
Category: Family and Home > Families
Asked by: stressmathers-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 09 May 2004 19:48 PDT
Expires: 08 Jun 2004 19:48 PDT
Question ID: 343790
As in regard to the the words "step-mother", "step-child", "step-etc."
 Where did the "step" originate from and what exactly does it pertain
to.  My guess would just be that is means removed from....but I'm not
Subject: Re: Family
Answered By: justaskscott-ga on 09 May 2004 20:08 PDT
Hi stressmathers,

As one etymology page puts it, "I think you're going to be surprised
by the etymology of stepmother/stepfather" etc.  That page, as well as
others, explains that "step" originally meant "bereaved" (close to
"removed from", I suppose), or in combination with other words,
"orphan".  Thus, etymologically, a step-parent is one who becomes
parent to an orphan child, while a step-child is an orphan who becomes
a son or daughter by a parent's remarriage.

"Issue 9" (September 28, 1998) (scroll down to "From Sarah and Warren:")
Take Our Word for It

"Words to the Wise" (Issue 188, page 2)
Take Our Word for It

"ETYMOLOGY Stap-Sti" (entry for "step-")
Online Etymology Dictionary

- justaskscott

Search terms used on Google:

etymology step stepmother
There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy