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 The National Guard, the Highway Patrol and other high-water rescue teams were on standby, Reeves said. NBC News, "Mississippi braces for 'historic, unprecedented' flooding around its capital," 15 Feb. 2020 An additional 50 missiles are maintained on standby. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Space Force Conducts Its Very First Missile Test," 5 Feb. 2020 Two fever testing areas have been constructed at Bole International Airport and two hospitals in Addis Ababa remain on standby for potential cases. Alexandria Williams, Quartz Africa, "African airports and health bodies ready for China’s coronavirus’ as first suspected cases appear," 28 Jan. 2020 Those in the virtual standby lines are not guaranteed to get on the attraction. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Here's what's new at Disneyland in 2020: Star Wars, Spider-Man and Marvel superheroes," 30 Dec. 2019 The 44th annual parade in 2020 will feature a new flyover from local aviators along with old standbys such as the Leinie’s beer wagon. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Watch goats marching and people in toilet bowls in these unique Wisconsin parades," 27 Nov. 2019 Rescue teams from neighboring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, working in the dark with floodlights in the freezing cold, and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help. Washington Post, "At least 18 dead, hundreds hurt as quake hits eastern Turkey," 25 Jan. 2020 Rescue teams from neighboring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, working in the dark with floodlights, and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help. Suzan Fraser, Anchorage Daily News, "At least 14 dead, hundreds hurt as 6.8 quake hits eastern Turkey," 24 Jan. 2020 Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters troops were on standby if needed. NBC News, "Four dead after 6.8-magnitude earthquake strikes Turkey," 24 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Many portable generators cost $1,000 or more, and permanent standby generators cost at least $2,000, with an installation price tag that can cost $10,000 or more, according to Consumer Reports. Washington Post, "California power outages highlight economic disparity," 13 Oct. 2019 Expect the 85-seat restaurant to open this spring at 12577 S.W. First St., adding to the city’s already solid ramen options, including the standby Yuzu and the newer (and now underrated?) Shizuki. Michael Russell, oregonlive, "One of Portland’s best ramen shops heads for the ‘burbs, plus all the other big restaurant news for January 2020," 8 Jan. 2020 The new Ryzen chips do support LPDDR4X RAM which should greatly help the platform’s performance with greater memory bandwidth, better battery life, and improved standby times. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "AMD's 7nm Ryzen 4000 laptop CPUs aim to steal Intel's performance crown," 6 Jan. 2020 Disneyland officials have not revealed whether a standby queue will be used for its Rise of the Resistance. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Here's what's new at Disneyland in 2020: Star Wars, Spider-Man and Marvel superheroes," 30 Dec. 2019 As quickly as spots have been snapped up at Disney World, officials there have started a virtual standby line, offering guests a time to visit should any slots be open. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Here's what's new at Disneyland in 2020: Star Wars, Spider-Man and Marvel superheroes," 30 Dec. 2019 These have become essential, as it’s been reported that Disney reserves 80% of ride capacity for Fastpass holders (meaning that at peak times, four Fastpass holders ride an attraction for every one guest in the standby line). Scott Craven, azcentral, "Visiting Disneyland for Christmas? Avoid making these 10 common mistakes," 20 Nov. 2019 Seating is general admission and ticket holders must be seated by 7:30 p.m., as remaining seats will be released to the standby line at that time. Emily Sorensen, Pomerado News, "Marine Corps band to perform in Escondido on Oct. 25," 18 Oct. 2019 All the showings are sold out, but the standby lines might answer your prayers. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "Around the Movie World in 17 Days at the New York Film Festival," 26 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb 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 Yet Kerry voted for the Iraq invasion, and stood by his vote throughout the campaign. Jasper Craven, The New Republic, "Pete Buttigieg and the Democrats’ Veteran Problem," 11 Feb. 2020 Rena Anderson, the community engagement director for Huntsville City Schools, stood by the post. al, "Alabama lawmaker wants longer summers, school boards push back," 5 Feb. 2020 The only Republican in the chamber was Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who came in a few minutes late and stood by his desk just gazing at Romney. NBC News, "Dem senator gets emotional, thanks Romney after speech," 5 Feb. 2020 The Indiana Department of Education has stood by the new test. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana General Assembly gives schools a two-year reprieve from ILEARN penalties," 3 Feb. 2020 Wawa stood by its claim Wednesday that CVV numbers were not exposed. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, "Wawa customer data exposed during hack now sold on dark web," 29 Jan. 2020 President Donald Trump has condemned the killing, but he's stood by the 34-year-old crown prince and defended U.S.-Saudi ties. Arkansas Online, "Saudis sentence 5 to death for Jamal Khashoggi's killing," 23 Dec. 2019 Clay Doss, a Navy spokesman, stood by the assertion that the navigation system did not play a major role in the accident. T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, "The Navy installed touch-screen steering systems to save money.," 20 Dec. 2019 The work, which is on loan from the Gemäldegalerie museum in Berlin, depicts a bonnet-wearing woman standing by an open window and weighing money at a low table. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "New Exhibition Leads to Discovery of Dutch Painter’s Signature and Fingerprint," 2 Dec. 2019

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

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Standby.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on standby

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for standby

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with standby

Spanish Central: Translation of standby

Nglish: Translation of standby for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of standby for Arabic Speakers

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