sit idly by

sit (idly) by

To stand aside and refrain from acting or intervening. They may not have broken the law themselves, but the CEOs certainly sat by and allowed these illegal activities to happen unchecked. I feel so guilty for sitting idly by while my son was going through such a difficult time in his life.
See also: sit

sit idly by

 and stand idly by
to remain close, doing nothing to help. I do not intend to stand idly by while my children need my help. The wealthy man sat idly by while the poor people starved.
See also: idly, sit
References in classic literature ?
I cannot sit idly by and wait the great event that is his making, though he is not here to see.
China doesn't want a trade war with the United States," Zhang said, adding that "But if the US takes actions that hurt Chinese interests, China will not sit idly by and will take necessary measures.
Are we as a country going to sit idly by and see yet another mass human cull creeping quietly through our own back doors, where resistance to such is not tolerated?
It is, I think, indefensible on the part of our Democratic colleagues to sit idly by and let people like this young woman be hurt by the failed promises of Obamacare.
Unlike President Obama, I don't think Trump will sit idly by and do nothing to end the Syrian conflict.
The world will not sit idly by as Europeans navel-gaze.
Boss Dave Prentis said: "We can no longer sit idly by.
Sadly for him, the attempt misses the point completely, which remains that Liverpool's residents will not sit idly by whilst their much-loved parks are concreted over.
Socially aware teens are not content to sit idly by and watch the world fail to solve problems.
To sit idly by and moan "what's the point" afterwards - now that truly would be pointless.
MAY I ask the Chronicle readers whether they agree with the betrayal by both the Labour party and the Coalition, who are content to sit idly by while companies are recruiting cheap labour in Romania and Bulgaria in advance of their being allowed free entry into the UK in January?
Labour can't afford to sit idly by and allow Fine Gael to rule the roost on this one.
If you keep doing this, we will not sit idly by," the official warned.
Or is this government, like the previous administration, going to sit idly by, moaning about water conservation and proving yet again that they do not have even the vestige of the vision and ability of their last century forebears?
Choosing to sit idly by and watch their suffering is not an option.