Normally, we say "he stood on his feet" (his feet supported him)

Sometimes, people say "jump or stand to one's feet".

I couldn't see the usage or meaning of "to" in this context in any dictionary.

What does the preposition "to" in "he jumped/stood to his feet" mean?

  • There is little point in asking what a certain preposition "means" in a particular construction. Prepositions are among the most idiosyncratic parts of different languages, and you just need to learn which is used in which ways - "meaning" barely enters into it.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 2, 2022 at 17:41

3 Answers 3


What you're missing is not a special definition of "to" but of the entire phrase "[to one's feet]." It is in fact in this Merriam-Webster entry for foot:

to one's feet
: to a standing position
// brought the crowd to its feet

Using this with "jump" just communicates the sudden motion. It wouldn't really be used idiomatically with "stand," though maybe some other verbs: "He rose to his feet," "He leaped to his feet," "He teetered unsteadily to his feet."


Stand to one's feet is not idiomatic in British English (though apparently it is in American).

We say getting / jumping / leaping / springing to one's feet, meaning that the person is rising (very eagerly, in the case of the last three) so that they end up on their feet. To is used in its normal sense, as in 'climb to the top'. We can speak of falling to one's knees as well - lowering oneself into a kneeling position.

  • I disagree that "stand to one's feet" is not idiomatic: google.com/search?tbm=bks&q=%22stood+to+his+feet%22
    – stangdon
    Mar 1, 2022 at 18:06
  • @stangdon - In that case it must be an American usage - it's quite unknown to me. The quoted books appear to be American. Mar 2, 2022 at 8:48
  • I was inspired to do a little more research. It does appear that "stand to one's feet" is both primarily American and recent: it started to gain traction in American English in the 1970s but didn't really take off until the 1990s, whereas in British English it didn't take off until the 2000s. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – stangdon
    Mar 2, 2022 at 14:00
  • As Andy B mentions in his answer, to one's feet already implies a final, standing position. Standing to one's feet is a bit like Sitting into a sitting position.
    – EllieK
    Mar 2, 2022 at 17:03
  • It's true that "stood to his feet" is much less common than got, rose, sprang, etc.
    – stangdon
    Mar 3, 2022 at 15:58

This is a guess, but I think it must've been:

He jumped to stand on his feet

We have, since, abbreviated it to:

He jumped to his feet

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