Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

stand by - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theystand by
he/she/itstands by
present participlestanding by
past tensestood by
past participlestood by
  1. 1
    [intransitive] [often progressive] to be ready to do something

    A boat will be standing by in case of emergency.

  2. 2
    [intransitive] to not take action when you should

    We can’t just stand by and watch her die.

  3. 3
    [transitive] stand by someone to be loyal to someone who is in a difficult situation

    We knew they would stand by us no matter what we’d done.

  4. 4
    [transitive] stand by something to continue to have a particular belief or opinion, even though other people have doubts about it or disagree with you

    The doctors are standing by their claim that they are not at fault.

See also main entry: stand


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play