Say I am waiting for orders, or a machine is waiting for commands, can I call this to be on "stand-by"? (or is it "standby"?)

Is the time waiting a "stand-by time"?


You can "stand by" a friend etc. if you are supporting them, but if you are ready and waiting for orders or a signal etc. you are "on standby".

If you say "standby time" I think people will know what you mean, but I think it's more common to use it to describe machine waiting time rather than the time a person spends waiting.

Is there a particular context you want to use it in?


I think especially for the equipment, and possibly for the people, you would use 'idle'.

The stamping machine will be idle until we get another delivery of sheet steel.

We're not running at full capacity, so these machines are idle for 3 hours a day.

Idle (MW, definition 1)

not occupied or employed: such as

a: having no employment - inactive idle workers

b: not turned to normal or appropriate use - idle farmland

c: not scheduled to compete - the team will be idle tomorrow

  • 1
    "Idle" would accurately describe what the machine (or person) is doing while on standby, but it's not quite the same thing. If something is on standby then it is ready and waiting to spring in to action at a moment's notice. A printer on standby will start printing the moment I send it something. An idle printer may be on standby, but it might also be switched off or have a paper jam or something that would prevent it from acting immediately. Sep 7 '18 at 0:16

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