Stand Back and Stand By – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did someone just tell you to ‘stand back and stand by?” What do they mean? Do they want you to go home? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression ‘stand back and stand by’ comes from a speech by Donald Trump.  In the context of Donald Trump's speech, ‘stand back and stand by’ means to wait until you receive orders before taking action. Without orders, you are not to take any action and await instructions.

Since ‘stand back and stand by’ is framed as an order, it suggests there are consequences for disobeying this command.

Example Usage

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. Wait for my signal to start the invasion and make it happen.”

“Stand back and stand by, officer. We could get the call in a minute. Don’t let them catch you slipping, or it’s your job.”

“We have to stand back and stand by. I don’t know what the president means by that, but let's just chill and see what happens.”

“Stand back and stand by? What does he mean? I’m ready to rush the capital right now. Let’s do this!”

“You can’t seriously think he was talking to the Proud Boys and asking them to take action? He’s a buffoon and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“There’s no way the Proud boys are going to listen. We better notify Antifa and get ready for battle.”


The expression 'stand back and stand bay' originates from the presidential debate between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and GOP nominee Donald Trump in 2020. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who was moderating the discussion, asked Trump to denounce white supremacy and white supremacy militia groups.

Trump replied, asking Wallace to "give me a name." Biden mentioned the Proud Boys, a 'hate group' categorized by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In response, Trump said the following.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by."

However, Trump's reply was not what the media wanted to hear, painting him as in support of the Proud Boys. NBC News reported the following in the wake of Trump's statement.

"The Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, pledged allegiance to President Donald Trump on Tuesday night after he told the group to "stand back and stand by" during the first presidential debate."

Phrases Similar to Stand Back and Stand By

  • Hold back until I give the signal.
  • Wait for the signal.

Phrases Opposite to Stand Back and Stand By

  • Go get it.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Stand back and stand by.

Ways People May Say Stand Back and Stand By Incorrectly

Some people may use the phrase, 'stand back and stand by' as a racist connotation telling right-wingers to prepare for civil war. However, the term doesn't have an esoteric meaning, and it was merely a mistake uttered by Donald Trump and misinterpreted as a cryptic warning.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Stand Back and Stand By

You can use the phrase 'stand back and stand by' on forums like 4Chan and Reddit that embrace the right-wing ideology. The term is a 'racist dog whistle' used by right-wingers to tell others to prepare for an event. It's a way of telling people to hold back on taking action until you receive a signal.

Woke people frame this saying as a racist slur, despite the Proud Boys having a person of color as their leader. Using the phrase on social media sites like Twitter may result in the platform suspending your account until you delete the tweet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *