by·​stand·​er | \ ˈbī-ˌstan-dər \

Definition of bystander

: one who is present but not taking part in a situation or event : a chance spectator innocent bystanders who were injured in the shooting

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of bystander in a Sentence

Two innocent bystanders were injured in the shooting. bystanders rushed to help the victim of the mugging

Recent Examples on the Web

The bystander suffered non-life threatening injuries, Jones said. Jonathan J. Cooper, The Seattle Times, "Northern California deputy killed by gunfire, second wounded," 17 Sep. 2018 Some bystanders may also fear becoming the target of violence. Darcel Rockett,, "Familiar questions about ‘bystander effect’ arise after man berates woman for Puerto Rico shirt," 12 July 2018 Last week, Onofri said investigators were collecting ballistic evidence that may help determine which bullets struck the bystanders. Robert Moran,, "'Shots fired! Shots fired! … Everybody out!' Terror and chaos at Trenton arts festival," 27 June 2018 But to echo the unseen bystander, why did police have to get involved in the first place? Breanna Edwards, The Root, "#GoingToTheMoviesWhileBlack: Parents Say Movie Theater Manager Called Cops on Them After They Tried to Retrieve Kids from Cinema," 26 June 2018 In a way, the Supreme Court simply takes on this conversation for itself, and leaves the citizenry as bystanders. Sean Illing, Vox, "The case for abolishing the Supreme Court," 12 Oct. 2018 Because attendees have been inundated with messaging, bystander intervention is common: many report helping victims themselves, whether intervening in an argument or helping someone who appears overly intoxicated. Bridget Read, Vogue, "At Burning Man, #MeToo Is More Complicated Than You Think," 28 Aug. 2018 Talking into a microphone, Lee spoke positively about the June 12 meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in Singapore and urged bystanders to put aside their political biases to support a peace treaty. Jacob Geanous,, "Korean-Americans call for peace treaty to end family separation," 30 June 2018 Vernon doesn’t care about Russell, who’s just another bystander to him. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Netflix’s Hold the Dark throws Jeffrey Wright to the wolves," 28 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bystander.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of bystander

1584, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bystander

Dictionary Entries near bystander





by step



Statistics for bystander

Last Updated

10 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bystander

The first known use of bystander was in 1584

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bystander



English Language Learners Definition of bystander

: a person who is standing near but not taking part in what is happening


by·​stand·​er | \ ˈbī-ˌstan-dər \

Kids Definition of bystander

: a person present or standing near but taking no part in what is going on

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on bystander

What made you want to look up bystander? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!