standby

noun
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

standby

adjective

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

standby

adverb

Definition of standby (Entry 3 of 4)

: on a standby basis fly standby

stand by

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for standby

Synonyms: Noun

anchor, buttress, dependence (also dependance), mainstay, pillar, reliance

Synonyms: Verb

adhere (to), cling (to), hew (to), keep (to), stick (to or with)

Antonyms: Verb

defect (from)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Craft beer snobs and rubes alike will rejoice at the selection, ranging from basic Chicago standbys to selections from national and international breweries. Emma Krupp, RedEye Chicago, "Neighborhood guide: What to eat, drink and do in Ravenswood," 12 Apr. 2018 European ports of entry dominated this year's list, with a few Asian and Middle Eastern standbys in the mix. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Airports in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 The boat was still waiting for instructions from authorities and on standby in international waters, SOS Mediterranee said. Jeannette Neumann, WSJ, "Spain Offers to End Standoff Between Italy and Malta Over Migrant Boat," 11 June 2018 Emergency services have issued a red alert, placing extra services such as medical staff and firefighters on standby through Sunday. Fox News, "The Latest: More risk of wildfires in scorched Sweden," 3 Aug. 2018 Opened only last year, the Lower East Side hot spot has already become a local standby, and the upstairs lounges are crowded with creatives in various attitudes of hip—an unlikely setting for a sexagenarian Swiss in business attire. Ian Volner, WSJ, "Swiss Architecture Firm Herzog & De Meuron Celebrates 40 Years," 4 Nov. 2018 One menu standby — and its best — is its Northern Italian Maltagliati pasta with braised rabbit meat and carrots, herbaceous and brimming with a rich white-wine-and-butter sauce. Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times, "The best dinner-for-two deal in Seattle: a bottle of wine and 2 pasta entrees for $35," 18 Sep. 2018 The National Guard has helicopters on standby, just in case. Carter Evans, CBS News, "Lava flow from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano blocking escape routes," 31 May 2018 Despite Tarkowski being the only defender on standby, TalkSPORT commentator Nigel Adderley claimed Southgate has no plans of replacing the Premier League defender. SI.com, "Burnley's James Tarkowski Withdraws From England Standby List Ahead of Groin Surgery," 27 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Installing a standby generator is no DIY project, either. David Agrell, Popular Mechanics, "Should You Buy a Standby Generator?," 11 Sep. 2018 Carolina Herrera is one of the royals' standby designers; earlier this week, Meghan Markle wore a Herrera gown for a formal meeting with the King of Morocco. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Gets Sporty in a Barbour Jacket, Ralph Lauren Sweater, and Sneakers," 27 Feb. 2019 In the half-century since Fontana slashed his paintings, any number of artists have followed his lead in deconstructing that old standby art object, the painting made on a piece of canvas stretched over a rectangular frame. Peter Plagens, WSJ, "‘Lucio Fontana: On the Threshold’ Review: Creativity That Cuts Against the Grain," 22 Jan. 2019 For those unable to snag one of the free tickets (though there is a standby line), milelongopera.com offers 360-degree videos. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘The Mile-Long Opera: A Biography of 7 O’Clock’ Review: A Theme-Park Performance," 8 Oct. 2018 This chip will be aimed at ultra-mobile systems with the processor measuring 12×12×1mm and having a standby power of 2mW. Intel's not the only one to want to use different processes for different bits of a processor. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Intel introduces Foveros: 3D die stacking for more than just memory," 12 Dec. 2018 He’s squeezed the ole standby lying-to-investigators plea out of a few targets. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "Doubling Down on Mueller," 15 Nov. 2018 With PlayFab, developers need only pay for the server resources actually in use, plus a little extra for some standby capacity. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft wants Azure to be the multiplayer server solution for every platform," 14 Nov. 2018 Get in the standby line during the last hour the park is open. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Get on Any Disney World Ride in 30 Minutes or Less," 8 Nov. 2018

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

Farmers are standing by Bayer AG’s Roundup herbicide despite rulings from two juries that the world’s most widely used weedkiller caused cancer in plaintiffs. Jacob Bunge, WSJ, "Despite Rulings, Farmers Remain Loyal to Bayer’s Roundup," 21 Mar. 2019 Despite the out roar against the film, Kathy is standing by it. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything to Know About Zac Efron's New Ted Bundy Movie "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile"," 29 Jan. 2019 For her part, writer Nina Burleigh is standing by her piece. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "British Paper Agrees to Pay Melania Trump "Substantial Damages" Over "False Statements"," 28 Jan. 2019 The White House and leading Republicans are standing by Kavanaugh—for now. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "A Second Sexual Misconduct Allegation and a Possible Delay—The Latest in Brett Kavanaugh's Nomination," 24 Sep. 2018 President Donald Trump and Jordan’s conservative allies in Congress are standing by him. Eliza Collins, USA TODAY, "Ex-OSU coach defends Jordan in abuse scandal but says team doctor made athletes 'uncomfortable'," 10 July 2018 Gretchen Carlson is standing by the Miss America board of directors following backlash over major changes made to the contest in recent months. Jodi Guglielmi, PEOPLE.com, "Gretchen Carlson Defends Miss America Changes Amid Mounting Criticism: 'Change Is Difficult'," 9 July 2018 Bill Neely is standing by right now in Chiang Rai, Thailand. NBC News, "Meet the Press - July 8, 2018," 8 July 2018 But the call center is standing by if things go wrong anyway. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Talking to Google Duplex: Google’s human-like phone AI feels revolutionary," 27 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of standby

Noun

1796, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1872, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

1971, in the meaning defined above

Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about standby

Statistics for standby

Last Updated

7 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for standby

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for standby

standby

noun

English Language Learners Definition of standby

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person or thing that is available especially in emergencies

standby

adjective

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on standby

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with standby

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for standby

Spanish Central: Translation of standby

Nglish: Translation of standby for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of standby for Arabic Speakers

Comments on standby

What made you want to look up standby? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

something valued as if it were money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!