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[sit-doun] /ˈsɪtˌdaʊn/
done or accomplished while sitting down:
sit-down meetings between the two party leaders.
(of a meal or food) served to or intended for persons seated at a table:
a sit-down dinner.
Informal. a period or instance of sitting, as to relax, talk, or the like:
They had a profitable sit-down together.
a protest demonstration whereby participants refuse to move from a public place.
Informal. a meal, especially a dinner, served to persons who are seated at a table.
Origin of sit-down
First recorded in 1830-40; adj. and noun use of verb phrase sit down


[sit] /sɪt/
verb (used without object), sat or (Archaic) sate; sat or (Archaic) sitten; sitting.
to rest with the body supported by the buttocks or thighs; be seated.
to be located or situated:
The house sits well up on the slope.
to rest or lie (usually followed by on or upon):
An aura of greatness sits easily upon him.
to place oneself in position for an artist, photographer, etc.; pose:
to sit for a portrait.
to remain quiet or inactive:
They let the matter sit.
(of a bird) to perch or roost.
(of a hen) to cover eggs to hatch them; brood.
to fit, rest, or hang, as a garment:
The jacket sits well on your shoulders.
to occupy a place or have a seat in an official assembly or in an official capacity, as a legislator, judge, or bishop.
to be convened or in session, as an assembly.
to act as a baby-sitter.
(of wind) to blow from the indicated direction:
The wind sits in the west tonight.
to be accepted or considered in the way indicated:
Something about his looks just didn't sit right with me.
Informal. to be acceptable to the stomach:
Something I ate for breakfast didn't sit too well.
Chiefly British. to take a test or examination:
I’m studying now, and I plan to sit in June.
verb (used with object), sat or (Archaic) sate; sat or (Archaic) sitten; sitting.
to cause to sit; seat (often followed by down):
Sit yourself down. He sat me near him.
to sit astride or keep one's seat on (a horse or other animal):
She sits her horse gracefully.
to provide seating accommodations or seating room for; seat:
Our dining-room table only sits six people.
Informal. to serve as baby-sitter for:
A neighbor can sit the children while you go out.
Chiefly British. to take (a test or examination):
She finally received permission to sit the exam at a later date.
Verb phrases
sit down,
  1. to take a seat.
  2. to descend to a sitting position; alight.
  3. to take up a position, as to encamp or besiege:
    The military forces sat down at the approaches to the city.
sit in,
  1. to attend or take part as a visitor or temporary participant:
    to sit in at a bridge game; to sit in for the band's regular pianist.
  2. to take part in a sit-in.
sit in on, to be a spectator, observer, or visitor at:
to sit in on classes.
sit on/upon,
  1. to inquire into or deliberate over:
    A coroner's jury was called to sit on the case.
  2. Informal. to suppress; silence:
    They sat on the bad news as long as they could.
  3. Informal. to check or rebuke; squelch:
    I'll sit on him if he tries to interrupt me.
sit out,
  1. to stay to the end of:
    Though bored, we sat out the play.
  2. to surpass in endurance:
    He sat out his tormentors.
  3. to keep one's seat during (a dance, competition, etc.); fail to participate in:
    We sat out all the Latin-American numbers.
sit up,
  1. to rise from a supine to a sitting position.
  2. to delay the hour of retiring beyond the usual time.
  3. to sit upright; hold oneself erect.
  4. Informal. to become interested or astonished:
    We all sat up when the holiday was announced.
sit on one's hands,
  1. to fail to applaud.
  2. to fail to take appropriate action.
sit pretty, Informal. to be in a comfortable situation:
He's been sitting pretty ever since he got that new job.
sit tight, to bide one's time; take no action:
I'm going to sit tight till I hear from you.
before 900; Middle English sitten, Old English sittan; cognate with Dutch zitten, German sitzen, Old Norse sitja; akin to Gothic sitan, Latin sedēre, Greek hézesthai (base hed-); cf. set, sedate, cathedral, nest
Can be confused
set, sit (see usage note at set)
10. meet, assemble, convene, gather.
Usage note
See set. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sit down
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She could not ask him to sit down, but she must understand how he had got into the house.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • "Come and sit down," she said, and she drew her towards one of the low cushions.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • He waited until he saw her sit down at the desk and take up a pen.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • But Rico did not sit down at once: he kept looking towards the doorway.

    Rico and Wiseli Johanna Spyri
  • "sit down," said the professor sharply, speaking for the first time.

British Dictionary definitions for sit down

sit down

verb (adverb)
to adopt or cause (oneself or another) to adopt a sitting posture
(intransitive) foll by under. to suffer (insults, etc) without protests or resistance
a form of civil disobedience in which demonstrators sit down in a public place as a protest or to draw attention to a cause
(of a meal, etc) eaten while sitting down at a table


stay in touch


verb (mainly intransitive) sits, sitting, sat
(also transitive; when intr, often foll by down, in, or on) to adopt or rest in a posture in which the body is supported on the buttocks and thighs and the torso is more or less upright: to sit on a chair, sit a horse
(transitive) to cause to adopt such a posture
(of an animal) to adopt or rest in a posture with the hindquarters lowered to the ground
(of a bird) to perch or roost
(of a hen or other bird) to cover eggs to hatch them; brood
to be situated or located
(of the wind) to blow from the direction specified
to adopt and maintain a posture for one's portrait to be painted, etc
to occupy or be entitled to a seat in some official capacity, as a judge, elected representative, etc
(of a deliberative body) to be convened or in session
to remain inactive or unused: his car sat in the garage for a year
to rest or lie as specified: the nut was sitting so awkwardly that he couldn't turn it
(of a garment) to fit or hang as specified: that dress sits well on you
to weigh, rest, or lie as specified: greatness sits easily on him
(transitive) (mainly Brit) to take (an examination): he's sitting his bar finals
(usually foll by for) (mainly Brit) to be a candidate (for a qualification): he's sitting for a BA
(intransitive; in combination) to look after a specified person or thing for someone else: granny-sit
(transitive) to have seating capacity for
(informal) sitting pretty, well placed or established financially, socially, etc
sit tight
  1. to wait patiently; bide one's time
  2. to maintain one's position, stand, or opinion firmly
Word Origin
Old English sittan; related to Old Norse sitja, Gothic sitan, Old High German sizzen, Latin sedēre to sit, Sanskrit sīdati he sits
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 sit down



Old English sittan "to occupy a seat, be seated, sit down, seat oneself; remain, continue; settle, encamp, occupy; lie in wait; besiege" (class V strong verb; past tense sæt, past participle seten), from Proto-Germanic *setjan (cf. Old Saxon sittian, Old Norse sitja, Danish sidde, Old Frisian sitta, Middle Dutch sitten, Dutch zitten, Old High German sizzan, German sitzen, Gothic sitan), from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit" (see sedentary).

With past tense sat, formerly also set, now restricted to dialect, and sate, now archaic; and past participle sat, formerly sitten. In reference to a legislative assembly, from 1510s. Meaning "to baby-sit" is recorded from 1966.

To sit back "be inactive" is from 1943. To sit on one's hands was originally "to withhold applause" (1926); later, "to do nothing" (1959). To sit around "be idle, do nothing" is 1915, American English. To sit out "not take part" is from 1650s. Sitting pretty is from 1916.



1836 of meals, 1936 of strikes, from verbal phrase (c.1200), from sit (v.) + down (adv.); as a noun, sit-down "act of sitting down" is from 1861.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sit down



To take care of; attend and watch over: Who'll sit your house while you're gone? (1945+)

Related Terms

baby-sit, house-sit



  1. A meal, usually a free one, eaten at a table (1919+ Hoboes)
  2. A settling for a chat; meeting; schmooze: The voice suggested that we have a little ''sit-down'' over lunch at Chianti/ Zilber was supposed to go to a sit-down with Pagano in Brooklyn (1861+)
  3. (also sit-down strike) A strike in which the workers occupy their job sites but do not work (1936+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with sit down

sit down

Take a seat, as in Won't you sit down? I won't be long. [ c. 1200 ]
sit down to. Prepare to eat a meal, as in At six we all sat down to dinner. [ Late 1500s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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