Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal.
1. Ready and available; waiting to participate or take one's turn if the situation arises. We have another actor on standby if this guy doesn't work out.
2. Waiting with the hope of a seat on a plane, train, or bus becoming available. If you don't need to arrive at a specific time or date, you can save a lot of money on tickets by flying standby.
waiting for one's turn, especially describing the status of travelers who wait at a soon-to-depart train, plane, or bus, hoping that a seat will become available. The passenger waited on standby for an available seat. The agent was able to seat all of the passengers on standby.
Ready and waiting, as in We've got three more painters on standby. This expression originated in the navy in the 1940s, where it referred to someone being ready to come on duty as soon as required. From about 1960 it began to be widely used in aviation for a passenger waiting to take the first available seat on a full flight.
1 ready to do something immediately if needed or asked: The emergency services were put on standby after a bomb warning.
2 ready to travel or go somewhere if a ticket or something that is needed suddenly becomes available: He was on standby for the flight to New York.
1. Ready and available.
2. As a standby passenger.