by·​stand·​er | \ ˈbī-ˌstan-dər How to pronounce bystander (audio) \

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

Instruct supervisors to attempt to obtain and review all audio and video recordings from police as well as bystanders, security cameras and other sources of information. Talis Shelbourne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New use-of-force policies aim to change first aid treatment, handling of suicidal civilians and more," 6 June 2019 Canavan said the crash resulted in an exposed wire starting a small fire, which was put out by a bystander using a dry chemical extinguisher. Debra Bleile, Pomerado News, "Solo crash knocks out power in Poway," 6 June 2019 Video taken by a bystander shows Carter slip out of the grip of one officer and attempt to walk away. Tess Sheets,, "Noel Carter files excessive force lawsuit against Orlando police for 2015 arrest captured on video," 4 June 2019 The release said that several bystanders, including an off-duty Cicero auxiliary police officer and an off-duty DuPage County Forest Preserve police officer, quickly dove into the water to try to save the woman. Linda Girardi, Aurora Beacon-News, "95-year-old woman who drove into Aurora retention pond has died, authorities say," 5 May 2018 The woman pleads for help from bystanders, but is largely ignored. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Video shows Tempe officer dragging woman from car," 5 July 2018 The audacity to profile and verbally assault innocent bystanders and customers in a public commercial location is a violation of our civil society.’’ Material from the Washington Post was used in this report. Aimee Ortiz,, "Aaron Schlossberg once called a Mass. native ‘an ugly [expletive] foreigner’," 18 May 2018 Head to Le Marais for people watching and a late morning coffee; be sure to grab a seat on the outskirts of any outdoor seating area to avoid onlookers, bystanders and fellow coffee sippers stepping on your train. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Can You Wear Haute Couture In Real Life?," 7 Aug. 2017 To be effective bystanders, Warnick trains people pay attention to cues, identify harassment, and develop methods of intervention. Greta Moran, Teen Vogue, "The Culture of Sexual Harassment at Music Festivals Like Coachella Could Be Changing," 3 May 2019

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

13 Jun 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 How to pronounce bystander (audio) \

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).


a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!