Take a Word.... Stand: Etymology, Definition and Usage; Idioms and Phrases; Poems and Story
- Old English standan (verb), stand (noun), of Germanic origin,
- from an Indo-European root shared by Latin stare and Greek histanai,
- also by the noun stead.
- have or maintain an upright position, supported by one’s feet
- rise to one’s feet
- place or set in an upright or specified position
- (object or building) be situated in a particular place or position
- remain valid or unaltered
- remain stationary
- (ship) remain on specified course
- be able to endure or tolerate
- be a candidate for election
- buy/provide food or drink for someone
- a rack, base or piece of furniture holding, supporting or displaying something
- a street stall
- an attitude towards a particular issue
- a place for vehicles to wait for passengers
- a witness box
- structure for spectators e.g. at a sporting venue
Such an ordinary word, ‘stand’. Such a solid word, strong consonants, short vowel. When I got to thinking of its usage I realised that, though rather staid on its own, it offers us so many interesting phrases.
Most of these phrases mean something solid, trustworthy, meaningful; they convey strength in the face of adversity or strength of belief or pure stubbornness!
Some show strength of individuality in some way. We stand up when we want to be noticed or when our support is required.
In contrast, there are a few that mean we give way; we stand down to make way for another or we stand corrected.
How strange that one word can convey such opposing notions!
Photo on a Stand
Old Photo on a Stand: Poem
Her stance, staring at the photo on wooden stand,
Those faces stood for all she was, would be,
shoulder to shoulder, voices loud
in her head,
though silent forever now,
Granddads took a stand for country in both wars:
one in naval uniform,
with those small boats commandeered to fetch
troops standing vulnerable on beaches torn:
one in the Home Guard,
for stealth invasion from sea before dawn.
Grandmothers, one standing tall and serious,
the other stood her ground
on discipline t’wards her and sister, but eyes twinkled
fondness in frame cuddly and round.
They both stood up for right
with grit and soft-edged sound.
The girls would stand corrected, respecting elders
as expected, no stand-offs tolerated.
It wasn’t done to question experience, argue,
or give apology belated.
Great-grandparents she never knew, though thought she might,
taught to stand tall,
no matter what, to stand by their beliefs,
they stood for stoicism, through it all.
She faced each one and asked a question,
“As you stand out from the crowd,
would you stand by me this day,
would I make you proud?”
They kept their level gaze,
projected from their age
to stand beside her, never phased,
strong but loving, sage.
I Stood to Win!
Stand Up and Be Counted: Story
‘Be upstanding!’, said the Headteacher, then of five years’ standing.
We stood as all the teachers walked onto the stage and took their places. A motley crew they were, some long-standing, maybe ready to stand down after years of service, others new, ready to stand the test of time. How long would they survive teaching us?!
It was Year 9’s turn to ‘do’ assembly, where we presented a theme, conveyed a message or generally entertained. I was in Year 9 and I was to stand in front of the whole school to introduce our piece.
As I stepped forward, I caught my foot on the stand which carried all the visuals for our little effort. Each A3 sheet, beautifully laminated and therefore slippery as shoe polish, wafted to the ground, declining to remain in order as they did so.
Miss Rundell, a teacher of some standing in our eyes, rescued me,
‘Carry on’, she said, ‘I’ll sort these.’
I had to stand fast, to keep my nerve, indeed to keep my credibility to stand for the school council. My mouth opened but nothing leapt forth. I dried up; stage fright. Without my prompts I just stood out like a sore thumb, felt like I was taking the stand at court.
‘There you go, all ready for you.’ Miss Rundell had rescued me and the first card jogged my memory.
I started my lines and rote learning took me through the rest in a blur. Applause greeted our group as we finished.
After assembly, I saw the class bully sailing up the corridor wearing the usual malicious smile.
‘Couldn’t stand the strain, eh?’ she jeered.
I couldn’t stand her, that was for sure. She stood to gain the admiration of her little clique, all pawing and laughing at her one-upmanship. I stood fast and turned as she passed me, to say,
‘I heard John Stringer stood you up at the weekend. At least he’s got taste.’
She glared, made to grab me but thought better of it and stalked off.
Council meeting came round. I was elected which gave me a boost of confidence I’d never had before.
Asked where I stood on the issue of school uniform, I reported that the general consensus of the class was a slightly less formal look, certainly with no beret (ugh!) and maybe no tie (pushing it a bit but I tried).
We won on the beret but kept the tie. Compromise.
School fête came round. Many stands with cakes, bric-a-brac, toys, clothes, nicknacks and books. There was a bandstand on the field, like the ones on the seafront; stirring stuff from the local brass band. The school funds stood at a couple of thousand at the end of the day.
School sports finally arrived, at the end of term. I stood a chance of winning a few categories; high-jump, sprint and tennis. I became junior tennis champion and stood proud to take my cup. I stood it on the mantelpiece at home where it took pride of place for a while. I still have it in a box somewhere!
Standing at the Platform
Thoughts whilst Standing Still
Boring place, taxi stands,
waiting in the rain;
I’ve just stood a round of drinks,
homeward on the train.
Stand clear of the line, my friends,
stand back from the drop!
Beat the crowd to find a seat,
they’ll squeeze you ’til you pop!
Opposite sat big-mouth Lil -
can’t stand that sort of girl.
Told me of her one-night stand;
it made all my toes curl.
I didn’t stand a chance,
I couldn’t get away.
I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on,
battling with the fray.
As it stood, she had me trapped,
so I got out my book,
guaranteed to stand me
in good stead, avoid her look.
My heart stood still when I espied
a workmate standing near.
He stood for all that I despise,
for everything I fear.
It stands to reason I took care
not to meet his gaze.
Instead, my hair standing on end,
my eyes retrieved the page.
Other colleagues saw me there,
invited me to follow
to the bar for a friendly drink.
I stood to gain, and did so.
Others stood aside to let us
reach the buffet carriage.
We stood around, our drinks in hand,
watching suburbia’s passage:
a small town standing proud on hill
‘twixt lush green vale and river,
a stand of trees behind some cows
and kingfisher, flash diver.
Then as the train drew to a stand,
we poured from clunking doors.
I realised I shouldn’t drive,
one of a few flaws;
I’d have to hail a taxi cab,
I’d be late home again.
At least I knew just where I stood -
just standing in the rain.
Hard Standing for My CarClick thumbnail to view full-size
Choose Your Stand
Let’s go military, ‘Stand at Ease’,
permission to relax.
Custer’s Last Stand didn’t offer
such a choice, alas!
Soldiers stand guard outside the palace,
standing to attention.
To disobey would mean disgrace
and standing trial, detention.
‘They also serve who stand and wait’,
they say when war dictates.
‘United we stand, divided we fall’,
depending on the fates.
For those who cannot stand the pace,
‘If you can’t stand the heat,
keep out of the kitchen’, leave the race,
and choose a slower beat.
You could go ‘twitching’, watch the birds,
a stand of pheasants flying,
perhaps o’er standing water, gone off,
smelly, fetid, dying.
South Africa has ‘stands’ of land,
a plot perhaps for building,
or here a hard standing for cars,
a place for vehicles’ parking.
Stand to Attention!
Where do you Stand?
So do you stand your ground, make a stand,
stand on your own two feet,
stand in someone else’s shoes,
stand out a mile, and meet
your fears head-on, stand up and be counted,
not stand back but instead
stand apart from others,
stand the argument on its head?
Don’t you stand in someone’s way,
though don’t stand idly by.
Don’t be stand offish or you’ll find
no one will help you fly.
Facts about Standing Stones
- menhir (from Breton: maen or men, "stone" and hir or hîr, “long”), standing stone, orthostat or lith is a large upright standing stone
- found solely as monoliths (single stones) or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably, but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top
- widely distributed across Europe, Africa and Asia but most numerous in Western Europe; in particular in Ireland, Great Britain and Brittany, France. There are about 50,000 megaliths in these areas, 1,200 menhirs in northwest France alone
- usually difficult to date, constructed during many different periods across pre-history as part of a larger megalithic culture that flourished in Europe and beyond
- some erected next to buildings that often have an early or current religious significance
- when in groups, they are often in a circular, oval, henge or horseshoe formation, they are sometimes called megalithic monuments. These are sites of ancient religious ceremonies, such as Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, and sometimes containing burial chambers
- the exact function of menhirs has been the subject of more debate than practically any other issue in European pre-history; variously been thought to have been used by Druids for human sacrifice, used as territorial markers, or elements of a complex ideological system, or functioned as early calendars. Until the nineteenth century, antiquarians did not have substantial knowledge of prehistory, and their only reference points were provided by classical literature. The developments of radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology have done much to further knowledge in this area.
Just a few more for the Record
- stand or fall by (e.g. your beliefs)
- stand in awe of (someone or something)
- stand on ceremony (keep to tradition)
- stand-in (understudy)
- stand alone (the only or best of its kind)
Stand and Deliver!
Songs with 'stand' in the Title
There are many; here are some of my favourites:
Adam Ant - Stand & Deliver
Tammy Wynette - Stand by Your Man
Four Tops - Standing in the Shadows of Love
The Police - Don’t Stand So Close to Me
The Beatles - I Saw Her Standing There
Ann Peebles - I Can’t Stand the Rain
Elvis Costello - I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
Pretenders - I’ll Stand by You
Elton John - I’m Still Standing
Ben E King - Stand by Me
Stand Up for Literature!
As a writer, what do you stand for?
© 2017 Ann Carr