The English words stand and sit are used in a number of different idioms and expressions beyond their basic meanings. Here are 16 English idioms and expressions with the words “stand” and “sit” – with example sentences:
1. stand tall: be proud of yourself and confident in your abilities
Don’t give up because of one loss, remember to stand tall and try your best the next time.
2. make your hair stand on end: make you feel very afraid or frightened
That horror movie with the evil ghost made my hair stand on end!
3. can’t stand the sight: strongly dislike someone/something, so that you don’t want to look at them
Go away! I can’t stand the sight of you right now!
She wanted to be a nurse, but she can’t stand the sight of blood – so she became a teacher instead.
4. standoffish: to keep to yourself and avoid interacting with other people, or interact with people in a slightly rude way that implies you don’t like them or you feel superior to them.
Barbara is very friendly, but her sister Pam is quite standoffish. She’s not the least bit interested in anybody else.
5. stand on your own two feet: to be independent and support yourself financially
You are twenty-four years old with a college degree. It’s time for you to stand on your own two feet.
6. stand down: to relax and not participate in a conflict or fight
After the peace treaty was signed, the commander gave the order for the soldiers to stand down.
7. not have a leg to stand on: you don’t have evidence or logical points in a debate or argument against someone else
Jess, you don’t have a leg to stand on in this argument. You haven’t learned the facts.
8. stand still / sit still: stop moving
Everyone in the crowd stood still during the moment of silence to remember the people who had died.
The antelope stood perfectly still as it listened for sounds of possible predators.
Parents usually use “sit still” to tell children to stop moving around while sitting:
My five-year-old can’t sit still when we go out to eat at a restaurant – he’s always playing with his food or kicking the table!
9. sit tight: stay in a place and wait patiently (informal)
When the bus broke down on the highway, the driver told the passengers to sit tight until another bus could come pick them up.
10. sit by / sit idly by: to see something happen and choose to do nothing about it; remain passive and not take action
We can’t just sit by and watch innocent people suffer! We have to do something!
11. won’t stand for it: refuse to allow something to happen
I won’t stand for other people taking the credit for my work.
12. not stand a chance: have extremely little probability of succeeding or winning
The boxer was far more experienced than his opponent. The other guy didn’t stand a chance.
13. take a stand: publicly express your opinion on something – especially a controversy, saying you support or are against it
In the interview, the politician kept giving vague answers and avoided taking a stand on health care reform.
14. not sit well with someone: when a situation makes you feel uncomfortable or slightly offended
That comment she made didn’t sit well with me. It felt like she was trying to make me look bad in front of my boss – but indirectly.
15. sit out: choose not to participate in an activity
My coworkers are going to a karaoke bar, but I don’t like that kind of thing so I’m gonna sit this one out.
16. sit up and take notice = suddenly become alert and pay attention to something
When the teacher mentioned that the class would go to Disney World, all the students sat up and took notice.