A learning series to help English language learners explore vocabulary in detail


Stand is one of the top 500 most frequent words in English. The past tense form is stood and the past participle is also stood. As you read, think about how the different meanings of the word are related.

As a verb

1 The most common use of the word stand is as a verb, meaning to be upright and supported by your feet.
Jeff likes to stand while working.

2 The second meaning of stand describes an object's location.
The church stands on a hill.

3 Stand can mean 'tolerate'.

Note that we usually use it in the negative with the word 'can't'. Can't stand simply means dislike.

Example: I can't stand people who tell lies.

However, we do sometimes use it in the positive:

Example: I'm from a cold country, so I can stand low temperatures.

Rafiq can't stand bad drivers.

4 We occasionally use the word stand to descibe a person who is running for election.

Example: George is standing for Mayor.

I am standing for President in the next election.

As a noun

As a noun, the word stand has several meanings.

1 A piece of equipment that supports an object


Put the microphone in the stand.

I bought a stand for my iPad, so I can use it while cooking.

I bought this stand for my phone so that I can make videos.

2 The second meaning is 'position'. Not a physical position, but a position or viewpoint in relation to supporting an idea.

For example, if we ask 'What is your stand on abortion?', we are asking whether you support it or whether you are against it?

Notice how this relates to the first meaning - both meanings talk about supporting something.

What is your stand on raising taxes on the rich?

3 Status

There is another way to use stand as a noun, but with an -ing ending. The word 'standing' can mean status. This usage is not so common.


He has a good reputation and good standing in the local community.

As a judge, Thomas is thought to be of good standing.

Phrasal verbs and similar expressions with STAND

Let's look at seven different phrasal verbs using the word STAND.

1 Stand up for (something or someone)

To stand up for something means to defend or show support for it. We often use it to describe activists or political activities.


I stood up for Roger, even when everyone thought he was a liar.

This politician is the only one who will stand up for the rights of indigenous people.

Are you willing to stand up for justice?

2 Stand out

When something (or someone) is clearly very different from the others, we say that it stands out. Sometimes, we say 'stand out from the crowd' to describe someone who is different from and better than others.


Wearing a bright pink t-shirt, Laura really stood out at the funeral.

A well-written resume will help you stand out from the crowd when you apply for a job.

Melissa really stands out from the other employees. She's clearly the smartest!

3 Stand for

We use the expression 'stand for' to explain an acronym or abbreviation.


CIA stands for Central Intelligence Agency.

'Etc' stands for the Latin phrase et cetera.

FBI stands for Federal Bureau of Investigation.

4 Stand by (or with) someone/something

Similar to the first phrasal verb, when we stand by a person, we continue to support them through difficult times.


Her husband stood by her through the difficult times.

I know many people don't like our boss, but I will continue to stand by her.

I will always stand by you when you need a friend.

5 Stand in

To stand in is the act as a temporary substitute


The vice president has to be prepared to stand in for the president in case of an emergency.

Jessica is a substitute teacher. She is standing in for Mr Williams while he is in hospital.

6 Stand back

To stand back is to keep a distance from something


Stand back! The helicopter is going to take off.

The police officers told the crowd to stand back while they investigated the murder.

Stand back!

7 Stand down

To stand down is to resign from a formal position


I was the school principal until I stood down last week.

I have enjoyed being Mayor, but I feel I have to stand down due to ill health.

Idioms and expressions with STAND

STAND is used in a few idioms or iiom-like expressions

1 Make a stand/take a stand

These expressions refer to our second definition of STAND as a noun - a position or viewpoint.

When you make a stand or take a stand, you express your position about a (controversial) topic.

Example: People kept asking the politician to take a stand on the abortion issue, but he refused. Perhaps he was scared of losing votes.

You need to take a stand on this issue.

2 Stand still/standstill

To stand still is to not move (while standing).

As a noun, standstill describes a situation where something has stopped.

For example: The traffic had come to a standstill.

The traffic had come to a standstill.

3 As it stands

'As it stands,...' describes a current situation, while thinking about how that situation might change in the future.


As it stands, United are third in the league, but if they win at the weekend, they'll move up to second.

As it stands, convicted criminals are allowed to own guns, but the Government plans to change that with a new law.

As it stands, I can't afford a car. I'll have to take the bus until I can afford one.