Meaning of “standby” in the English Dictionary

"standby" in English

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standbynoun [ C ]

uk /ˈstænd.baɪ/ us /ˈstænd.baɪ/ plural standbys

standby noun [ C ] (READY)

something that is always ready for use, especially if a regular one fails:

Board games are a good standby to keep the children amused if the weather is bad.
There are standby generators but these usually only have to work for a few hours a year during power cuts.
on standby

When a person or a thing is on standby, they are ready to be used if necessary:

Hospitals are on standby ready to deal with casualties from the crash.

(Definition of “standby” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"standby" in American English

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standbynoun [ C/U ]

us /ˈstændˌbɑɪ/ plural standbys

something available for use when needed, or the state of being ready for use:

I have several meals I use as standbys for unexpected company.
Cary also has sought to put more contractors on standby for major storms.

If you fly standby, you hold a ticket and are ready to travel when space becomes available on a flight.


(Definition of “standby” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"standby" in Business English

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standbynoun [ C ]

plural standbys also stand-by uk /ˈstændbaɪ/ us

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.

standbyadjective [ before noun ]

also stand-by uk /ˈstændbaɪ/ us

ready to be used if necessary:

a standby generator
If the computer is left undisturbed for five minutes, it goes into standby mode.
The phone offers up to four hours of talk time and 106 hours of standby time.

ECONOMICS relating to extra money that a country can borrow from the International Monetary Fund if it has serious financial difficulties:

standby credit

sold just before a flight or a performance if there is a seat available:

a standby flight/seat

(Definition of “standby” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)