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Take a Word.... Stand: Etymology, Definition and Usage; Idioms and Phrases; Poems and Story

Updated on September 11, 2018
annart profile image

Ann likes to research the history of words, to experiment with them and to encourage others to use fresh words and idioms.


  • 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.

Stand Trial?

On a stand or 'the' stand?!
On a stand or 'the' stand?! | Source

Dictionary Definition


  • 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.

Standing Opposite

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

Family Tree
Family Tree | Source

Old Photo on a Stand: Poem

Her stance, staring at the photo on wooden stand,

was proud.

Those faces stood for all she was, would be,

shoulder to shoulder, voices loud

in her head,

though silent forever now,

long dead.

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,

standing by

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

and values,

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!

Champion Racquet of Long Ago!
Champion Racquet of Long Ago! | Source

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

Old Steam Locomotive
Old Steam Locomotive | Source

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 Car

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sorting out the ParkingMotorbike on its StandS stands for Soraia (5th birthday)!
Sorting out the Parking
Sorting out the Parking | Source
Motorbike on its Stand
Motorbike on its Stand | Source
S stands for Soraia (5th birthday)!
S stands for Soraia (5th birthday)! | Source

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!

Dad as a Scout
Dad as a Scout

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.

Standing Stones

Ardgroom Stone Circle, Ireland
Ardgroom Stone Circle, Ireland

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!

Adam Ant's successful single & album. Give us your money!
Adam Ant's successful single & album. Give us your money! | Source

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?

See results

© 2017 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      9 months ago from SW England

      Thank you Billie for your kind comment.


    • raucciwrites profile image

      Billie Raucci 

      9 months ago from Illinois

      I loved this. So many ways we use the word stand. It was quite intriguing.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thank you; you too. We've just booked flights to New Zealand so it's Christmas at sister-in-law's - so looking forward to that! Happy New Year to you!


    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      11 months ago from England

      Have a wonderful Christmas Ann!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      I always think it's funny how emotions make you write better sometimes; my granddads were closer to my heart than my grandmothers (though they were lovely) so I guess that's why the poetry comes over with more feeling.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting today, Nell.


    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      11 months ago from England

      I love the way you wrote this, and the poem too. I particularly like the bit about how grandads stood in both wars etc.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Well, thank you kindly, Catherine! What a lovely comment. Good to see you today.


    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      11 months ago from Orlando Florida

      An outstanding hub! I loved your poem about the grandparents and the way you played with the word stand. I loved how you explored all the meanings of the word stand. Stand up and take a bow!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Love your comment, Flourish! Thanks for reading and for your kind words.

      I totally agree with your sentiments regarding Trump etc. We have our own version here though I have to say I think Mrs May is above that sort of thing.

      Good to see you here today.


    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      11 months ago from USA

      I loved your creative writing and the lengths that you go to in order to point out uses of the word in all of its shades. With today’s news about Michael Flynn, it makes me wonder who will be forced to take the stand in court and defend themselves. I can’t stand Trump, as he has no ethics or moral leg to stand on. His standing within certain segments of our population, however, is still shockingly high.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thank you, Nikki, for reading and for leaving your kind comment. I totally agree with your stand on various issues!


    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      11 months ago from London

      Thanks Ann,,

      Very informative,really enjoyed word "stand",didn't view with this angle before.Story is amazing,even poetry, just loved all.

      I love to stand up for justice.

      I can't stand social injustice.

      Standing still is very important at some turnings of your life.

      When you know you are right,just take your stand and stand up firmly to your point.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thank you, Frank! What a lovely thing to say.

      There are times when I prefer poetry; it depends on the subject I think.


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      11 months ago from Shelton

      I stand and salute the poetry first.. I can't stand the fact that It had to end.. I love when you do these types of Hubs Annart

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thanks so much, Patricia, for your entertaining comment! Glad you like this. One's 'standing in the community' is a good one.

      I'm a verbarian too!

      Great to see you today.


    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      11 months ago from sunny Florida

      Impressive....I am a verbarian...intoxicated by words so found this an interesting read on many levels. I stand for lots of not like to stand in the rain unless I am very hot and can run in and standing in the community is one you would need to ask my neighborhood about.... thank you for sharing this....Angels are on the way to you this matter where you are standing. :D ps

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thanks, Jo. Good to see you today!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thanks, Mike, for your kind words. The poll is a bit of a teaser!

      Yes, I've only done a couple of hubs in the last week or so. Although we've moved, the renovation is still ongoing but we're close to finishing the hard work on the loft conversion. Hopefully Christmas will be a little more leisurely! Thanks for asking.


    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      11 months ago from Tennessee

      Very interesting and informative, Ann.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      11 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Ann - You put so much into your every word. The short history was interesting and the poetry certainly added to your feature article. The poll question has me wondering. I will have to give that some thought. Good to have you posting, seems it has been a while. Since the move?

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thank you, Linda, for such kind words.

      I think that language should never be boring; it's a living thing so should be fun and entertaining. I try to make it both!

      Your visit is much appreciated, as always.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Hello, Dora! I'm so glad you enjoyed this and thanks for the compliment.

      It wasn't hard in that I enjoy messing about with words. Strangely though, this time it was the poems that were the easiest to put together. Some words lend themselves more to one genre than another.

      Hope you have a lovely week, Dora.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      MizBejabbers: Our language is amazing. My students used to find the spelling and the prepositions the worst thing to get their heads round and it is one of the most difficult languages to learn.

      Learning a foreign language is more about having an ear for sounds and using it in context. Spanish is supposed to be the easiest but I think Italian is the prettiest, followed closely by French. I'm fluent in French but I found German really difficult in school and can remember very little! Finding the right teacher is the crux of the matter I think.

      Thanks for popping in today! Good to see you.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      S Maree: Thank you for your support; much appreciated.


    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      11 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your "Take a Word" articles are always interesting and entertaining. This one is no exception! Thank you for the enjoyable education, Ann.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      11 months ago from The Caribbean

      Enjoy the different meanings of stand, especially in the poems. It looks like hard work, but you do a great presentation. Thanks.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      11 months ago from Beautiful South

      Ann, I'll take a stand. This is one of your best! Seriously, isn't it great that we can take a word in English and use it so many ways, although I've heard from ESL students that it makes their learning our language so much more difficult. What frustrates me is that English comes so easily to me, but I've been a real dud at learning a second language.

    • profile image

      S Maree 

      11 months ago

      Degrees are good only if the recipient remembers and uses what was taught.

      The mechanics of English were extremely difficult for me. Comprehending grammar is, to this day, an ongoing struggle. Adding salt to the wound is knowing that my husband, who didn't even minor in English, can parse circles around me!

      One needn't have a string of letters after one's name to be a good teacher. I am thankful to consider you an honored sensei.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      S Maree: Thank you very much. I do wish textbooks were more fun.

      Literacy is my thing and I've taught EFL/ESL as well as dyslexics so all this stuff is familiar and close to my heart.

      I'm sure you don't need these much though, with a BA! I've done extensive teaching studies for my qualifications but I don't have a degree, so well done you!

      Thanks for popping by and leaving your input; much appreciated.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thank you, Linda, for your kind comments. I'm thrilled that you enjoy this series. I hope to inspire and I love constructing these hubs.

      Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


    • profile image

      S Maree 

      11 months ago

      I hope your works are included in textbooks. How more easily understood English would be! They would be especially helpful for students learning English as a second language.

      They help ME, and I have a BA in English! Bravo!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      11 months ago from Washington State, USA

      How creative! I don't see these often enough, but my goodness, I can understand why. You put a LOT of research and work into these my dear. It shows. Thank you for causing us to stop for a few moments and really consider speech, the power of words, and how we use them.

      Have a wonderful day in the Lord.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Thanks, Eric! What lovely things you say! I love it when you find my hubs 'cool'. It's such a great word.

      Hope you're having a great weekend.


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I get all happy when I see one of these articles by you. It was sure fun reading this. So cool to look at this word and all in engenders.

      Thank you.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      You're too kind, bill! I really appreciate your support and constant morale boosts and I'm so glad you like this series. Wry humour? That's in my genes I guess, in both legs.

      Hope your Sunday's sensational, bill!


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      This is easily my favorite series on HP. It's a shame more people don't experience it because there is always something to learn from each of these, as well as simply being entertained by your creativity and wry humor. This was a great way to begin my Sunday, so thank you my friend.

      Have a Superlative Sunday!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      11 months ago from SW England

      Well, thank you so much, Jackie! I'm delighted with such a warm comment and compliment.

      It's a series I could go on with forever but I still find the choice of word a tricky one. Sometimes they just pop up in my mind and I can't resist. The muse must be followed!

      Great to see you today. Have a scrumptious Sunday!


    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      11 months ago from The Beautiful South

      You have something very unique going here Ann, and I love it. A real talent you are. Very impressive.


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