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English definition of “standby”

standby

noun [C] (plural standbys) (also stand-by)     /ˈstændbaɪ/
a person or thing that is available and that can be used when necessary, if another person or thing is not available, or in an emergency: They manufacture portable GPS systems which can be used as an emergency standby.
(also standby ticket) TRANSPORT a cheap ticket sold just before a flight or a performance if there is a seat available
fly standby TRANSPORT to travel by plane using a ticket that cannot be bought in advance, but that becomes available just before the plane is due to leave: Employees at some airlines can fly for free if they fly standby.
on standby ready to be used or to do something if necessary: They have 700 gritters and snow ploughs on 24-hour standby in order to prepare for the freezing temperatures.leave sth on standby You should make sure that electrical goods are not left on standby, because it wastes energy.remain/be put on standby Economists are remaining on standby for the all-important employment report for August. TRANSPORT a person who is on standby is ready to travel on a plane immediately if a ticket becomes available: The salesmen book the cheapest flight they can find on the day they want to fly, then go to wait on standby for the flight they really want to get aboard.
(Definition of standby noun from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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