1. <chemistry> A variety of iron intermediate in composition and properties between wrought iron and cast iron (containing between one half of one per cent and one and a half per cent of carbon), and consisting of an alloy of iron with an iron carbide. Steel, unlike wrought iron, can be tempered, and retains magnetism. Its malleability decreases, and fusibility increases, with an increase in carbon.

2. An instrument or implement made of steel; as:

A weapon, as a sword, dagger, etc. "Brave Macbeth . . . With his brandished steel." "While doubting thus he stood, Received the steel bathed in his brother's blood." (Dryden)

An instrument of steel (usually a round rod) for sharpening knives.

A piece of steel for striking sparks from flint.

3. Anything of extreme hardness; that which is characterised by sternness or rigor. "Heads of steel." . "Manhood's heart of steel." .

4. <medicine> A chalybeate medicine.

Steel is often used in the formation of compounds, generally of obvious meaning; as, steel-clad, steel-girt, steel-hearted, steel-plated, steel-pointed, etc.

<medicine> Bessemer steel, a variety of steel containing a small amount of tungsten, and noted for its tenacity and hardness, as well as for its malleability and tempering qualities. It is also noted for its magnetic properties.

Origin: AS. Stel, steel, steele; akin to D. Staal, G. Stahl, OHG. Stahal, Icel. Stal, Dan. Staal, Sw. Stal, Old Prussian stakla.

1. To overlay, point, or edge with steel; as, to steel a razor; to steel an ax.

2. To make hard or strong; hence, to make insensible or obdurate. "Lies well steeled with weighty arguments." (Shak) "O God of battles! steel my soldier's hearts." (Shak) "Why will you fight against so sweet a passion, And steel your heart to such a world of charms?" (Addison)

3. To cause to resemble steel, as in smoothness, polish, or other qualities. "These waters, steeled By breezeless air to smoothest polish." (Wordsworth)

4. <physics> To cover, as an electrotype plate, with a thin layer of iron by electrolysis. The iron thus deposited is very hard, like steel.

Origin: AS. Stlan: cf. Icel. Staela. See Steel.

(01 Mar 1998)