stand·​by | \ ˈstan(d)-ˌbī How to pronounce standby (audio) \
plural standbys\ ˈstan(d)-​ˌbīz How to pronounce standbys (audio) \

Definition of standby

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : one to be relied on especially in emergencies
b : a favorite or reliable choice or resource
2 : one that is held in reserve ready for use : substitute
on standby
: ready or available for immediate action or use



Definition of standby (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : held near at hand and ready for use a standby power plant standby equipment
2 : relating to the act or condition of standing by standby duty a standby period
3 : of, relating to, or traveling by an airline service in which the passenger must wait for an available unreserved seat standby passengers a standby ticket



Definition of standby (Entry 3 of 4)

: on a standby basis fly standby

stand by

stood by; standing by; stands by

Definition of stand by (Entry 4 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : to be present also : to remain apart or aloof
2 : to be or to get ready to act an ambulance was standing by

transitive verb

: to remain loyal or faithful to : defend stood by his decision

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Synonyms & Antonyms for standby

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of standby in a Sentence

Noun More police officers were sent as standbys. We bought an electric generator as a standby. Verb no matter how much people object, I will stand by my decision
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Florida's National Guard has activated 175 members to prepare for search and rescue operations, with 30 foot high water vehicles on standby for use if needed, according to a tweet from the Division of Emergency Management. Hollie Silverman, CNN, "Hurricane Sally strengthens to Category 2 as it nears landfall, bringing life-threatening flooding," 16 Sep. 2020 Residents on standby include those in Stayton, Sublimity, Aumsville, Silverton, Highway 213 west of Mt. Angel and Silverton to Drakes Crossing. oregonlive, "‘Unprecedented’ wildfires continue to rage across Oregon as thousands are forced to flee (live updates)," 9 Sep. 2020 United’s new feature comes as the airline eliminated most change fees on domestic flights and committed to allowing all customers to fly same-day standby for free on both domestic and international flights. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "United Launches Interactive Map Showing U.S. Travel Restrictions," 8 Sep. 2020 Starting in January 2021, customers can also get same-day standby for free–which previously cost $75. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, "United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines Are Permanently Getting Rid of Domestic Flight Change Fees," 1 Sep. 2020 United previously charged a $200 change fee for domestic travel, and $75 for standby. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "United Airlines Eliminates Change Fees on All Domestic Flights," 31 Aug. 2020 Otherwise, a meal outside the French standby in Georgetown feels blissfully normal. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "These three restaurants can help you keep date night on your to-do list," 21 Aug. 2020 Battery life lasts up to 18 hours, with 200 hours on standby. Popular Science, "Four Bluetooth headphones that protect your kids’ ears," 16 July 2020 Backup, or standby, generators are usually large generators kept at home to power up appliances when your home loses electricity for whatever reason. The Editors, Field & Stream, "Five Things to Consider Before Buying A Generator," 19 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective About 6,500 utility workers were stationed in Louisiana to turn power back on after the storm, and another 7,000 were on standby outside of the state, Edwards said. Bryn Stole And Andrea Gallo | Staff Writers,, "As Hurricane Delta menaces region scarred by Laura, residents weigh difficult choices," 9 Oct. 2020 Pilots are also facing schedules with more standby time, said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for Allied Pilots Association, which represents American’s pilots. Dallas News, "What happens after Oct. 1? Airlines and passengers face new reality as stimulus draws to an end," 30 Sep. 2020 My standby routine has always started with a lip scrub to clear away dry skin and ensure a smooth application process, followed by a balm for moisture and a few flicks of gloss for extra sheen and subtle sexiness. Akili King, Vogue, "Feels Like a Steal: Why I Swapped My Lip Gloss Collection for This One Do-It-All Formula," 25 Sep. 2020 In the immediate aftermath of the coup, Ecowas activated its standby force and insisted on Keita’s reinstatement. Yinka Ibukun,, "Nigeria Presses Regional Leaders to Secure Mali After Coup," 29 Aug. 2020 Once, while outside of the David Letterman show trying to get standby tickets, Letterman picked her to go on air for a celebrity challenge. Sharon Coolidge, The Enquirer, "Angenette Levy leaving Local 12: 'I'm not leaving the news business'," 24 Sep. 2020 Most home standby generators can run anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 hours. Gabrielle Hondorp, Popular Mechanics, "These 5 Best Standby Generators Can Help You Weather Any Storm," 21 Sep. 2020 Some are even offering same-day standby changes for free. Melissa Yeager, The Arizona Republic, "Should you book a winter holiday flight now? Here are 3 reasons to do it, 1 reason to wait," 4 Sep. 2020 Customers who want to switch flights will be able to add themselves to the standby list no later than 30 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and one hour before departure on international flights. Marcy De Luna, Houston Chronicle, "United Airlines permanently eliminates change fees," 31 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Alaska Airlines only allows certain tickets to fly standby, including refundable main cabin tickets and first class tickets. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "Major U.S. Airlines Have Dropped Their Change Fees, but Not All Policies Are the Same — What to Know," 18 Sep. 2020 Allied Pilots Association spokesman Dennis Tajer said there is also an unusually high number of pilots working standby in recent months. Kyle Arnold,, "American Airlines chops 83,000 flights from its October schedule," 3 Sep. 2020 Currently, travelers must pay a $75 fee to fly standby. Susan Glaser, cleveland, "United Airlines permanently drops pricey change fee for most fliers," 31 Aug. 2020 According to the JetBlue website, customers with travel planned between September 5 and September 17 can rebook or travel standby without paying additional fees. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Satellite Image Shows Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Katia in One Powerful Portrait," 7 Sep. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Eventually, the movie descends into the thorny question of what really happened to Maxim's first missus, her relationship to the oily Jack Favell (Sam Riley), and the new bride's determination to stand by her man, no matter the consequences. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'Rebecca' offers a pretty but uninspired remake of the Hitchcock classic," 21 Oct. 2020 Parliament has been warned to stand by for a special session on Monday. Muktita Suhartono, New York Times, "‘We Have to Speak Out’: Thai Students Defy Protest Ban," 18 Oct. 2020 Amid the backlash against him, two people who chose to stand by Larson were Michelle and Anthony Martin, co-founders of Philadelphia's Urban Youth Racing School, an organization Larson had been involved in for years. CBS News, "NASCAR driver Kyle Larson hopes to make a comeback after being fired for using n-word: "It's not my word to use"," 16 Oct. 2020 Some of the most powerful gatekeepers of political speech are simply shutting down inconvenient stories while journalists stand by and cheer. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Twitter’s Un-American Censorship of the New York Post," 15 Oct. 2020 Then, police and social workers stand by as cleaning crews in full hazmat garb, including white jumpsuits, toss tents, mattresses, soiled blankets and other debris into the back of trucks. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Homeless camps spread to parks during coronavirus lockdown. Now Dallas is clearing them," 12 Oct. 2020 Failure by Washington to stand by Taiwan would potentially unravel the American alliance system in the region, and destroy American power along with it. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, "Taiwan Is the Next Front in the U.S.-China Standoff," 10 Oct. 2020 Shortly after the debate, the Proud Boys released a new logo with Trump's words strung across it: stand back and stand by. Britni De La Cretaz,, "Trump Wants To End Anti-Racism Training Because He Thinks It’s “Insane”," 30 Sep. 2020 More recently, Warren has had to defend Energy Transfer’s decision to stand by the MLP model even as its peers adopt more traditional structures following a series of tax changes. Rachel Adams-heard,, "Pipeline Mogul Follows Playbook, Stepping Down But Staying," 9 Oct. 2020

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

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First Known Use of standby


1796, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1872, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1971, in the meaning defined above


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

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Time Traveler for standby

Time Traveler

The first known use of standby was in the 13th century

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Statistics for standby

Last Updated

21 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Standby.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for standby


How to pronounce stand by (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of standby

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person or thing that is available especially in emergencies



English Language Learners Definition of standby (Entry 2 of 2)

: relating to or traveling by an airline service in which the passenger must wait for an available seat

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