or stand-by


noun, plural stand·bys.

a staunch supporter or adherent; one who can be relied upon.
something upon which one can rely and therefore choose or use regularly.
something or someone held ready to serve as a substitute, especially a radio or television program used as a filler in case of cancellation of a regularly scheduled program.
a traveler who is waiting for last-minute accommodations to become available on a plane, train, or other transport as a result of a cancellation.



    on standby, in a state of readiness to act, respond, or be used immediately when needed.

Origin of standby

First recorded in 1790–1800; noun, adj. use of verb phrase stand by



verb (used without object), stood, stand·ing.

(of a person) to be in an upright position on the feet.
to rise to one's feet (often followed by up).
to have a specified height when in this position: a basketball player who stands six feet seven inches.
to stop or remain motionless or steady on the feet.
to take a position or place as indicated: to stand aside.
to remain firm or steadfast, as in a cause.
to take up or maintain a position or attitude with respect to a person, issue, or the like: to stand as sponsor for a person.
to have or adopt a certain policy, course, or attitude, as of adherence, support, opposition, or resistance: He stands for free trade.
(of things) to be in an upright or vertical position, be set on end, or rest on or as on a support.
to be set, placed, fixed, located, or situated: The building stands at 34th Street and 5th Avenue.
(of an account, score, etc.) to show, be, or remain as indicated; show the specified position of the parties concerned: The score stood 18 to 14 at the half.
to remain erect or whole; resist change, decay, or destruction (often followed by up): The ruins still stand. The old building stood up well.
to continue in force or remain valid: The agreement stands as signed.
to remain still, stationary, or unused: The bicycle stood in the basement all winter.
to be or become stagnant, as water.
(of persons or things) to be or remain in a specified state, condition, relation, relative position, etc.: He stood in jeopardy of losing his license.
to have the possibility or likelihood: He stands to gain a sizable profit through the sale of the house.
Chiefly British. to become or be a candidate, as for public office (usually followed by for).
  1. to take or hold a particular course at sea.
  2. to move in a certain direction: to stand offshore.
(of a male domestic animal, especially a stud) to be available as a sire, usually for a fee: Three Derby winners are now standing in Kentucky.

verb (used with object), stood, stand·ing.

to cause to stand; set upright; set: Stand the chair by the lamp.
to face or encounter: to stand an assault.
to undergo or submit to: to stand trial.
to endure or undergo without harm or damage or without giving way: His eyes are strong enough to stand the glare.
to endure or tolerate: She can't stand her father.
to treat or pay for: I'll stand you to a drink when the manuscript is in.
to perform the duty of or participate in as part of one's job or duty: to stand watch aboard ship.

noun, plural stands for 28–49, stands or, esp. after a numeral, stand for 50.

the act of standing; an assuming of or a remaining in an upright position.
a cessation of motion; halt or stop.
a determined effort for or against something, especially a final defensive effort: Custer's last stand.
a determined policy, position, attitude, etc., taken or maintained: We must take a stand on political issues.
the place in which a person or thing stands; station.
a raised platform, as for a speaker, a band, or the like.
stands, a raised section of seats for spectators; grandstand.
a framework on or in which articles are placed for support, exhibition, etc.: a hat stand.
a piece of furniture of various forms, on or in which to put articles (often used in combination): a nightstand; a washstand.
a small, light table.
a stall, booth, counter, or the like, where articles are displayed for sale or where some business is carried on: a fruit stand.
newsstand: The papers usually hit the stands at 5 a.m.
a site or location for business: After 20 years the ice-cream vendor was still at the same stand.
a place or station occupied by vehicles available for hire: a taxicab stand.
the vehicles occupying such a place.
the growing trees, or those of a particular species or grade, in a given area.
a standing growth, as of grass, wheat, etc.
a halt of a theatrical company on tour, to give a performance or performances: a series of one-night stands on the strawhat trail.
the town at which a touring theatrical company gives a performance.
Metalworking. a rolling unit in a rolling mill.
Chiefly British. a complete set of arms or accoutrements for one soldier.

Verb Phrases

stand by,
  1. to uphold; support: She stood by him whenever he was in trouble.
  2. to adhere to (an agreement, promise, etc.); affirm: She stood by her decision despite her sister's arguments.
  3. to stand ready; wait: Please stand by while I fix this antenna.
  4. to get ready to speak, act, etc., as at the beginning of a radio or television program.
  5. to be ready to board a plane, train, or other transport if accommodations become available at the last minute.
stand down,
  1. leave the witness stand.
  2. to step aside; withdraw, as from a competition: I agreed to stand down so that she could run for the nomination unopposed.
  3. to leave or take out of active work or service: to stand down some of the ships in the fleet.
stand for,
  1. to represent; symbolize: P.S. stands for “postscript.”
  2. to advocate; favor: He stands for both freedom and justice.
  3. tolerate; allow: I won't stand for any nonsense!
stand in with,
  1. to be in association or conspiracy with.
  2. to enjoy the favor of; be on friendly terms with.
stand off,
  1. to keep or stay at a distance.
  2. to put off; evade.
stand on,
  1. to depend on; rest on: The case stands on his testimony.
  2. to be particular about; demand: to stand on ceremony.
  3. maintain a course and speed.
stand out,
  1. to project; protrude: The piers stand out from the harbor wall.
  2. to be conspicuous or prominent: She stands out in a crowd.
  3. to persist in opposition or resistance; be inflexible.
  4. maintain a course away from shore.
stand over,
  1. to supervise very closely; watch constantly: He won't work unless someone stands over him.
  2. to put aside temporarily; postpone: to let a project stand over until the following year.
stand to,
  1. to continue to hold; persist in: to stand to one's statement.
  2. to keep at steadily: Stand to your rowing, men!
  3. to wait in readiness; stand by: Stand to for action.
stand up,
  1. to come to or remain in a standing position: to stand up when being introduced.
  2. to remain strong, convincing, or durable: The case will never stand up in court. Wool stands up better than silk.
  3. fail to keep an appointment with (someone, especially a sweetheart or date): I waited for Kim for an hour before I realized I'd been stood up.
stand up for,
  1. to defend the cause of; support: No one could understand why he stood up for an incorrigible criminal.
  2. to serve a bridegroom or bride, as best man or maid (matron) of honor.
stand up to, to meet or deal with fearlessly; confront: to stand up to a bully.

Origin of stand

before 900; Middle English standen (v.), Old English standan; cognate with Old Saxon standan, Middle Dutch standen, Old High German stantan, standa, standan; akin to Latin stāre to stand, sistere, Greek histánai to make stand, Sanskrit sthā to stand, Old Irish at-tá (he) is

Synonyms for stand

25. abide, stomach.

Synonym study

25. See bear1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for stand by

stand by


(intr, adverb) to be available and ready to act if needed or called upon
(intr, adverb) to be present as an onlooker or without taking any actionhe stood by at the accident
(intr, preposition) to be faithful toto stand by one's principles
(tr, adverb) English law (of the Crown) to challenge (a juror) without needing to show cause

noun stand-by

  1. a person or thing that is ready for use or can be relied on in an emergency
  2. (as modifier)stand-by provisions
on stand-by in a state of readiness for action or use


(of an airline passenger, fare, or seat) not booked in advance but awaiting or subject to availability


verb stands, standing or stood (mainly intr)

(also tr) to be or cause to be in an erect or upright position
to rise to, assume, or maintain an upright position
(copula) to have a specified height when standingto stand six feet
to be situated or locatedthe house stands in the square
to be or exist in a specified state or conditionto stand in awe of someone
to adopt or remain in a resolute position or attitude
(may take an infinitive) to be in a specified positionI stand to lose money in this venture; he stands high in the president's favour
to remain in force or continue in effectwhatever the difficulties, my orders stand
to come to a stop or halt, esp temporarily
(of water, etc) to collect and remain without flowing
(often foll by at) (of a score, account, etc) to indicate the specified position of the parties involvedthe score stands at 20 to 1
(also tr ; when intr , foll by for) to tolerate or bearI won't stand for your nonsense any longer; I can't stand spiders
(tr) to resist; surviveto stand the test of time
(tr) to submit toto stand trial
(often foll by for) mainly British to be or become a candidatewill he stand for Parliament?
to navigate in a specified directionwe were standing for Madeira when the storm broke
(of a gun dog) to point at game
to halt, esp to give action, repel attack, or disrupt an enemy advance when retreating
(of a male domestic animal, esp a stallion) to be available as a stud
(also tr) printing to keep (type that has been set) or (of such type) to be kept, for possible use in future printings
(tr) informal to bear the cost of; pay forto stand someone a drink
stand a chance to have a hope or likelihood of winning, succeeding, etc
stand fast to maintain one's position firmly
stand one's ground to maintain a stance or position in the face of opposition
stand still
  1. to remain motionless
  2. (foll by for) USto tolerateI won't stand still for your threats
stand to someone Irish informal to be useful to someoneyour knowledge of English will stand to you


the act or an instance of standing
an opinion, esp a resolutely held onehe took a stand on capital punishment
a halt or standstill
a place where a person or thing stands
Australian and NZ
  1. a position on the floor of a shearing shed allocated to one shearer
  2. the shearing equipment belonging to such a position
a structure, usually of wood, on which people can sit or stand
a frame or rack on which such articles as coats and hats may be hung
a small table or piece of furniture where articles may be placed or storeda music stand
a supporting framework, esp for a tool or instrument
a stall, booth, or counter from which goods may be sold
an exhibition area in a trade fair
a halt to give action, etc, esp one taken during a retreat and having some duration or some success
cricket an extended period at the wicket by two batsmen
a growth of plants in a particular area, esp trees in a forest or a crop in a field
a stop made by a touring theatrical company, pop group, etc, to give a performance (esp in the phrase one-night stand)
Southern African a plot or site earmarked for the erection of a building
(of a gun dog) the act of pointing at game
a complete set, esp of arms or armour for one man
military the flags of a regiment
Derived Formsstander, noun

Word Origin for stand

Old English standan; related to Old Norse standa, Old High German stantan, Latin stāre to stand; see stead
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

Word Origin and History for stand by



Old English standan (class VI strong verb; past tense stod, past participle standen), from Proto-Germanic *sta-n-d- (cf. Old Norse standa, Old Saxon and Gothic standan, Old High German stantan, Swedish stå, Dutch staan, German stehen), from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet).

Sense of "to exist, be present" is attested from c.1300. Meaning "to pay for as a treat" is from 1821. Phrase stands to reason (1620) is from earlier stands (is constant) with reason. Phrase stand pat is originally from poker (1882); stand down in the military sense of "go off duty" is first recorded 1916. Standing ovation attested by 1968; standing army is from c.1600.



"pause, delay," Old English, from the root of stand (v.). Meaning "place of standing, position" is from c.1300; figurative sense is from 1590s. Sense of "action of standing or coming to a position" is attested from late 14c., especially in reference to fighting. Meaning "raised platform for a hunter or sportsman" is attested from c.1400.

Sense of "stall or booth" is first recorded c.1500. Military meaning "complete set" (of arms, colors, etc.) is from 1721, often a collective singular. Sense of "standing growth of trees" is 1868, American English. Theatrical sense of "each stop made on a performance tour" is from 1896. The word was formerly also slang for "an erection" (1867).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with stand by

stand by


Be ready or available to act, as in I'm almost ready for you to carve the turkey, so please stand by. [Mid-1200s]


Wait for something to resume, as in We are all standing by until the power is restored. Also see on standby.


Be present but remain uninvolved, refrain from acting, as in I can't stand by and see these kids shoplifting. [Late 1300s]


Remain loyal, as in She's my friend and I'll stand by her, no matter what. [Early 1500s] Also see stick by.


Adhere to, abide by, as in I'm going to stand by what I said yesterday. [Late 1300s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with stand

  • stand a chance
  • stand at ease
  • stand by
  • stand corrected
  • stand down
  • stand fast
  • stand for
  • stand guard
  • stand in awe
  • stand in for
  • standing joke
  • standing on one's head
  • stand in good stead
  • standing order
  • stand off
  • stand on
  • stand one's ground
  • stand on one's own feet
  • stand out
  • stand over
  • stand pat
  • stand still for
  • stand the gaff
  • stand the sight of
  • stand to reason
  • stand up
  • stand up and be counted
  • stand up for
  • stand up to
  • stand up with

also see:

  • can't stand the sight of
  • heart misses a beat (stands still)
  • (stand) in awe of
  • it stands to reason
  • know where one stands
  • make a stand
  • make one's hair stand on end
  • not have (stand) an earthly chance
  • take a stand
  • without a leg to stand on
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.