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stand by

verb
1.
(intransitive, adverb) to be available and ready to act if needed or called upon
2.
(intransitive, adverb) to be present as an onlooker or without taking any action: he stood by at the accident
3.
(intransitive, preposition) to be faithful to: to stand by one's principles
4.
(transitive, adverb) (English law) (of the Crown) to challenge (a juror) without needing to show cause
noun
5.
  1. a person or thing that is ready for use or can be relied on in an emergency
  2. (as modifier): stand-by provisions
6.
on stand-by, in a state of readiness for action or use
adjective
7.
(of an airline passenger, fare, or seat) not booked in advance but awaiting or subject to availability
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for stand-by
n.

also standby, 1796, originally nautical, of a vessel kept nearby for emergencies, from stand (v.) + by. In civil aviation, as an adjective meaning "without a booked ticket," from 1961. The verbal phrase stand by "await, support" is from 13c. As an order to hold one's self in readiness, it is recorded from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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