The most common meaning for the word "stand" is to be up on two feet:

He’s standing on a table. stand

simplepastpast participle
  • The kids are standing on the corner.
  • Lisa has to stand all day when she is at work.
  • Yesterday I stood in line for twenty minutes at the post office.

There are other important meanings for this word that you must know. We often use "stand" as a verb to mean tolerate or allow:

  • How much more of this can you stand?
  • She can’t stand people who are rude. (She doesn’t like them.)
  • Lewis couldn’t stand his boss, so he quit his job.
  • I won’t stand for this. (I won’t allow this to happen.)

The verb "stand" is also used when describing symbols or letters that represent words:

  • A: What do the letters in I.R.S. stand for?
  • B: They stand for Internal Revenue Service.
  • What does the logo on your jacket stand for?
  • The golden arches stand for the McDonald’s corporation. Everyone knows what they stand for when they see them.
  • This sign stands for the location of an airport:

airport sign

A person can stand for something if he or she has a strong belief in a set of ideas:

  • She stands for equal opportunity for women in the workplace.
  • Their governor stands for more limited government.
  • I stand for increasing access to a good education for people around the world.
  • What do you stand for?

When you combine "stand" and "in" you create an idiom that means to substitute for someone:

  • Ms. Ivy is standing in for our teacher today.
  • Bob needs someone to stand in for him at the meeting.
  • Do you know anyone who can stand in for you if you can’t make it to work?

When the word "by" is used to form stand by, it has a few different meanings.

  • Gina stood by her husband as he was accused of illegal acitivites at work. (stand by = support)
  • A group of people stood by and did nothing while an elderly woman was robbed. (stand by = to be inactive or to do nothing)
  • You’ll have to stand by and wait for the next available flight. (stand by = wait)
  • The director told the performers on the set to stand by just as the show was about to begin. (stand by = get ready)

When the word "stand" is used as a noun, it often refers to a small business of some kind:

  • The farmer set up a stand by the side of the road to sell freshly picked corn.
  • While at the state fair, we bought some hand made jewelry from a stand that sold things made in Wisconsin.
  • The kids across the street set up a lemonade stand. They’re selling lemonade for 25 cents a cup.

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This page was first published on April 18, 2012. It was updated on May 24, 2015.