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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Veterinarians are on standby to perform necropsies, determining exactly what killed the cows deemed less than edible. Lizzy Saxe, Forbes, 18 May 2022 Some board members inquired whether the advisory group would consider what policing model to use in schools — such as whether officers should be present in the hallways or be on standby outside the schools. Washington Post, 22 Apr. 2022 According to Playbill, Parker will perform opposite Broderick’s standby, Tony winner Michael McGrath. Trilby Beresford, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Apr. 2022 With guns in hand and police dog on standby, officers make their way up the stairs to the suspect and handcuff him. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Apr. 2022 Red Cross volunteers have been put on standby and are ready to help if an overnight shelter is needed, said Sharon Hudson, executive director of the Eastern Tennessee chapter. Liz Kellar, USA TODAY, 31 Mar. 2022 Each kit can treat 30,000 people for one month and Project Hope has seven kits on standby whenever governments request them. Mary Kekatos, ABC News, 2 Mar. 2022 In the last weeks, Allies from North America and Europe have deployed thousands of more troops to the eastern part of the Alliance and placed more on standby. Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY, 24 Feb. 2022 With wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick on reserve/COVID-19, Williams came up from the practice squad – and not just for duty as an emergency standby. Mark Inabinett |, al, 3 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective General admission: free; special exhibition pricing: $12, $18, free for ages 17 and under; advance timed-entry tickets required; no on-site standby line. Los Angeles Times, 29 Apr. 2022 The response to the event has been intense: Tickets were quickly snapped up, with nearly 500 people on a standby list to get one. Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2022 One good bourbon standby that pairs well with a variety of cigars, Kimberl said, is Four Rose Yellow Label. Dana Mcmahan, The Courier-Journal, 3 May 2022 But that same logic would permit the president to appoint slates of standby justices in case his party loses the Senate in the midterms. Daniel Huff, WSJ, 10 Apr. 2022 Broderick's standby Michael McGrath performed in the actor's absence, per Playbill. Charmaine Patterson,, 7 Apr. 2022 The new Wanna Get Away Plus fare, which will be available late in the second quarter of 2022, will allow travelers to take advantage of same-day changes and standby flights as well as earn 8 times the Rapid Rewards points, according to Southwest. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, 25 Mar. 2022 About 15 people were evacuated Monday night and about 30 more were on standby in Old Bisbee due to the Locklin Fire, a wildfire reported in the area. Angela Cordoba Perez, The Arizona Republic, 26 Apr. 2022 Free; advance registration recommended; standby line available. Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Once, while flying standby back from Europe, I was bumped off a flight 41 times in a row. Apologies. Chuck Wilcoxen, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Nov. 2021 Flying standby on the same day and putting frequent flier miles back into loyalty accounts are becoming free benefits, too. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, 14 Dec. 2020 Alaska Airlines only allows certain tickets to fly standby, including refundable main cabin tickets and first class tickets. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, 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,, 3 Sep. 2020 Currently, travelers must pay a $75 fee to fly standby. Susan Glaser, cleveland, 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, 7 Sep. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Florida Department of Education on Friday disputed an Orlando Sentinel/South Florida Sun Sentinel story about what math textbook reviewers found in the books, but the newspapers stand by their work. Leslie Postal, Orlando Sentinel, 6 May 2022 There are friends, but then there are friends that stand the test of time and that stand by your side. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 3 May 2022 World leaders must stand up and stand by Ukrainians now … those who are fighting and those who have fled … and stand with refugees everywhere who have been forced from their homes and their lands. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 9 Apr. 2022 Yet prosecutors stand by the mistaken identity theory, and Ortiz is reluctant to criticize them. Globe Staff,, 19 Mar. 2022 Leave the bark in place and stand by to see how the tree leafs out over the next couple of weeks. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, 18 Mar. 2022 Now, Sanam is confronted with an impossible choice: look the other way or stand by her principles and accept the consequences? Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 13 Mar. 2022 Some volunteers stand by to carry passengers’ luggage to the platform, where others hand out hot drinks and biscuits. Isabel Coles, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2022 Make two princes or princesses fall in love onscreen and stand by that story. David Oliver, USA TODAY, 9 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near standby

stand between


stand by

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Statistics for standby

Last Updated

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Standby.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on standby

Nglish: Translation of standby for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of standby for Arabic Speakers


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