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

Messi was often isolated, transparent, a bystander against France, visible only because of his luminous green shoes. Jon Leicester,, "The World Cup delivers unforgiving verdict for Lionel Messi," 30 June 2018 Squad members used two Jet Skis to return the swimmers to shore, while a bystander on a surfboard took one of the swimmers to the beach, officials said. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "NY man dies after getting caught in rip currents with other swimmers off the NC coast," 28 June 2018 At trial, Abu Khattala's attorneys said he was drawn to the scene as a bystander and that others were responsible for the attack. Spencer S. Hsu,, "Libyan militia leader gets 22-year sentence in Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. ambassador," 27 June 2018 Prosecutors told Florida Today the teens could not be prosecuted because there is no state law that requires a bystander to help or get assistance for someone who is in danger. CBS News, "5 Florida teens who mocked and recorded drowning man avoid charges," 24 June 2018 The encounter with authorities grabbed attention after a bystander shot video of the waning seconds of Martinez’s arrest as well as that of his father, who was taken into custody at the same time. Teri Figueroa,, "Vista man whose rough arrest was recorded to face trial for domestic violence," 12 June 2018 Then the man draped his arm over the shoulder of a bystander, while still holding the knife, Sieczkowski said. Aimee Green,, "Police officers describe 'pandemonium' during fatal homeless shelter shooting," 11 June 2018 Reed stumbled and fell into the bushes along the trail, and a bystander called 911 from an emergency phone on the trail, the Medical Examiner's Office said. City News Service, Ramona Sentinel, "Lemon Grove woman, 20, dies during Three Sisters Falls hike," 7 June 2018 Burgess jumped into the water and handed his daughter to a bystander who also had jumped in to help. Marisa Kwiatkowski, Indianapolis Star, "Family sues General Motors after Indy man dies saving 3-year-old daughter from pond," 5 May 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

18 Apr 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).


having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!