I have heard both variations and I'm wondering what would be the correct one to use:

  • I'm stepping down as CEO


  • I'm standing down as CEO

In case both are correct, which one should I use in a formal letter to announce my decision? This is for European countries, where English is not the 1st (official) language.

  • In many cases, to step / stand down is simply euphemistic phrasing by outside observers for was sacked. As you're "internal" to the process, you should just remove all potential ambiguity, and be honest: I'm resigning as CEO. Feb 6, 2023 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


They are interchangeable.

As mentioned on Google's Oxford Languages Dictionary.

Definition of "stand down":

withdraw or resign from a position or office.

Definition of "step down":

withdraw or resign from an important position or office.

They are almost the exact same thing.

"step" down has the extra word "important" in its definition, but it's just a trivial difference.

As mentioned here:

I’ve just realized that apparently ‘to stand down’ is the British version of ‘to step down’ when it comes to leaving an official position or office. I was not aware of this and used to think ‘step down’ is the one correct form

It might seem that "stand down" would mean something different, instead it's just the British version of "step down".

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