Definition of stand by in US English:

stand by

phrasal verb

  • 1Be present while something bad is happening but fail to take any action to stop it.

    ‘he was beaten to the ground as onlookers stood by’
    • ‘I have told her she is destroying her life and I can't stand by and watch it happen.’
    • ‘In just 100 days an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered while the rest of the world stood by.’
    • ‘Yet only now is the world beginning to wake up to what happened, having stood by at the height of the bloodshed.’
    • ‘And the police stood by and let it happen because it was peaceful.’
    • ‘It was surprising that Stewart stood by and watched this happen.’
    • ‘And not the least of the horror is that the rest of the world stood by and let it happen.’
    • ‘We aren't prepared to stand by and watch that happen.’
    • ‘Although they have the means to avert it, Western governments and transnational companies are standing by and letting it happen.’
    • ‘As a local representative there is no way on earth I'm going to stand by and watch this happen.’
    • ‘Police stood by and did nothing to stop the massacres, often participated themselves.’
  • 2Support or remain loyal to (someone), typically in a time of need.

    ‘she had stood by him during his years in prison’
    • ‘You knew when doing it, though, that a lot of your friends, and supporters and people who stood by you would be outraged.’
    • ‘Dan says he has had further support from his two kids and his mother who with their unwavering support have stood by him.’
    • ‘‘We love Barry, support him and stand by him without reservation,’ the family said after his arrest.’
    • ‘Paula has asked me to convey her heartfelt thanks to all those who stood by her and support her.’
    • ‘You believe in someone, you have faith in them, you expect them to be there for you, support you, stand by you.’
    • ‘I just want to thank everyone who stood by me.’
    • ‘Most football supporters have stood by him in his adversity, and greeted him with warm applause on match days despite his falling from grace so publicly.’
    • ‘My question is this - will you continue to support her and stand by her for the next 40 years?’
    • ‘Do you have any suggestions on how I can stand by her and support her?’
    • ‘Thanking all his friends and supporters for standing by him, he said his case had raised important questions about householders' rights.’
    be loyal to, remain loyal to, stand up for, support, give one's support to, be supportive of, back, back up, give one's backing to, uphold, defend, come to the defence of, stick up for, champion, take someone's part, take the side of, side with
    be loyal to, remain loyal to, stand by, support, give one's support to, be supportive of, back, back up, give one's backing to, uphold, defend, come to the defence of, stick up for, champion, take someone's part, take the side of, side with
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    1. 2.1 Adhere to or abide by (something promised, stated, or decided)
      ‘the government must stand by its pledges’
      • ‘Does the Prime Minister stand by the baby bonus policy and promise that it won't be abolished?’
      • ‘Why can't its adherents stand by their principles?’
      • ‘If it introduces a firm policy of that sort, it must stand by it.’
      • ‘He said he stood by his support for Britain joining the Euro, which sparked the tabloid newspaper's attack on him.’
      • ‘Does he stand by his pledge that no beneficiary will be worse off financially as a result of changes announced in the Budget?’
      • ‘However, the former world junior champion is standing by his claims.’
      • ‘Fewer and fewer Democrats today are willing to stand by that position and support trade bills that are good for American workers.’
      • ‘Remember, if you make it a rule, you must stand by it.’
      • ‘He said his members want to go back to work as quickly as possible, but the Government had to stand by its promises first.’
      • ‘The Tory leader stood by his pledge to cut taxes by £4bn.’
      abide by, keep, keep to, adhere to, hold to, stick to, observe, heed, comply with, act in accordance with
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  • 3Be ready to deal or assist with something.

    ‘two battalions were on their way, and a third was standing by’
    • ‘The area was sealed off by police as engineers went in to investigate - with fire fighters standing by until they declared it safe.’
    • ‘British Royal Marines and US Marines are standing by to assist with evacuations of UK and US citizens if needed.’
    • ‘The jets sit fueled and ready on the tarmac, and pilots stand by around the clock ready to scramble them into the air on a moment's notice.’
    • ‘Officers there had to put out several small fires, believed to have been started deliberately, while four fire engines stood by in case they were needed.’
    • ‘They had a medical officer standing by to assist with the survivor.’
    • ‘Two crews from Clacton Fire Station and paramedics stood by.’
    • ‘An ambulance stood by during the fire fighting operation in case there were any casualties but was not needed.’
    • ‘We assisted with extra air bottles and stood by in case of emergency.’
    • ‘A lifeboat attended, but because of the falling tide, decided to stand by until the boat floated clear.’
    • ‘The jet made an emergency landing at Manchester Airport with fire and ambulance crews standing by.’
    wait, be prepared, be in readiness, be in a state of readiness, be ready for action, be on full alert, be at battle stations, wait in the wings
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