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It sounds like some sort of an idiom, but I haven't found it in any dictionary. Maybe, it means 'lose one's pace', doesn't it? The context suggests it.

Don’t lose your step

Now we’re almost there

Go wash your face and comb your hair

(an excerpt from the song My Love for Evermore by the band Hillbilly Moon Explosion)

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    Yeah - basically 'Don't falter now' – Smock Dec 18 '19 at 14:21
  • It's not a particularly common idiomatic use with the sense of losing one's momentum, willingness / ability (to continue) - i.e. Don't give up. Most written instances of Don't lose your step actually carry the sense more often expressed by Don't lose your footing (be careful not to slip / trip over). But song lyrics often feature "unusual" phrasing, and it's not always important that everyone should understand the exact same meaning for any given expression (if they even bother thinking to that level of detail anyway). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 18 '19 at 15:06
  • I think it comes out of group dancing. To "keep one's step" would mean to keep putting your feet (your step) where the dance pattern indicates. So it means, keep up with what you are meant to be doing, in correct time and in the correct order. – puppetsock Dec 18 '19 at 15:16
  • @puppetsockreinstateMonica: I'd have thought that would normally be to keep in step. But I'm not from the land of the line-dancers (the US), so I wouldn't really know. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 18 '19 at 15:18
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica To "keep in step" would be more like to stay in formation in marching. That is, a group of soldiers march "in lock step." – puppetsock Dec 18 '19 at 19:52
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To "lose one's step" generally means to break the rhythm of one's walking, usually unintentionally. So, as an example, if you're walking along normally and suddenly hit a patch of slippery ground which causes you to have to stop and regain your stability (but not actually fall), you would have lost your step.

As @Smock commented, it is similar to "falter", although "falter" often has implications that your progress has been broken because you are hesitant or reluctant about something, and can also suggest that it is a more significant or enduring situation, whereas "losing one's step" does not really imply any hesitancy, just that something made you break your normal stride for a moment.

Usually, losing one's step is due to losing stable footing in some way, but not always (you could lose your step because something startled you, for example). If you trip over something, or stumble in some way, that could also be described as losing your step (though in many cases, I suspect people would choose to use the more explicit "trip" or "stumble" instead). It is generally not said when something actually makes one fall down, or if you have to stop walking because something is in your way, etc. It also generally implies that the condition is something that can be quickly recovered from (though it doesn't necessarily mean that it was recovered from quickly, just that it normally could have been).

You are correct that "lose one's pace" is very similar. I think the only real distinction between the two is that "losing one's step" implies a quickly recoverable condition (i.e. only one of your steps was out of place, but the next one could be normal again), whereas "losing one's pace" implies that your rhythm has been disrupted in a way that stays disrupted for at least some time (i.e. it's not easy to get your pace back to normal).

In the context of the quoted song lyrics, I think the phrase has pretty much the same meaning as usual, basically "don't stumble / falter / etc".

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In that precise case, the meaning would be similar to "lose oneself" (figuratively, of course) or, indeed, to "lose one's pace".

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  • To the extent that pace is used with this general sense, it's more often attached to the definite article - drop / increase / force / slacken / maintain / set / step up / slow the pace (where lose isn't at all common). But the possessive is certainly much more natural with Don't lose your step. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 18 '19 at 15:14

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