stand for

Idioms & Phrases

stand for

  1. Represent, symbolize, as in The stars and stripes stands for our country. [Early 1600s]

  2. Advocate, support, uphold, as in The National Writers Union stands for freedom of the press. [c. 1300] Also see stand up for.

  3. Put up with, tolerate. This usage is generally in a negative context, as in Mother will not stand for rude behavior. [Late 1800s] Also see hold still for.

  4. stand for something. Have some value or importance, as in She realized that appearances do stand for something. This usage dates from the mid-1800s but was preceded by stand for nothing, meaning "be worthless," dating from the late 1300s. Also see stand in for.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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