In this sentence, I used the verb "sit" to mean "receive no attention". I'm not sure it's correct usage. ChatGPT says it's ok and will be widely understood, but Oxford Learner's Dictionaries don't list such a sense

So does this word have this meaning?

My PR [pull request] has been sitting for a week, can someone on the team give it a look?

It came from the back of my head, without thinking, and I believe there is a reason for it (maybe, I confused it with some idiom, though)

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    @Lambie the context is a PR [pull request]. It's a request for someone (else) to review your changes - normally used in software development teams for code changes. In this case, it's sitting in a queue and has had no action/attention, so could equally apply to any bureaucratic process.
    – fdomn-m
    Commented Apr 8 at 7:38
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    Sitting is fine, but the word you really want is languishing
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Apr 8 at 19:47
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    @fdomn-m it's not s queue, though. There is no need for the pull request to wait for earlier ones to be attended to, and subsequent pull requests may be processed before it receives any attention.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 9 at 6:50
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    "ChatGPT says it's ok": ChatGPT has said a lot of very wrong things. I would not use it as an authority on correctness. Here's an example: ell.stackexchange.com/q/332360/20035
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 9 at 7:07
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    I think that, colloquially, you could say "it's been sitting idle" or something like that. I'm not a native English speaker though.
    – paddotk
    Commented Apr 9 at 14:35

5 Answers 5


I doubt you'd find that meaning in a dictionary, but "sit" does have the sense of "remain in a position". So you'd understand your sentence to mean "the pull request has remained *in the request queue", and hasn't been acted upon. And so, in context, you would infer that it had received no attention. It's not the meaning of "sit", but it is a natural inference.

I see no particular problem with this expression, even if it isn't necessarily how I would say it. What I'd say depends a little on how frustrated I want to seem: "Can someone on the team have a look at the PR that I submitted last week?" Seems to do the job. We don't actually need to say that it is "sitting" or "not receiving attention", which only seems to vent frustration, not communication.

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    Yes. To this UK native speaker, sitting or sitting there would be completely normal, unremarkable and understandable. Commented Apr 6 at 20:59
  • Thank you. How would you say it? Commented Apr 7 at 11:19
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    I would say sitting there to mean "no one has reviewed it and I am in a bad mood about it." There is a sense of annoyance to the phrase, like, "it's just there waiting for someone to review it, why isn't anyone reviewing it?" If you want to sound more neutral, you could say the PR has been "out" a while and you would appreciate a review.
    – hunter
    Commented Apr 7 at 14:52
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    How would you say it? - 'has been sitting for' doesn't sound exactly right, but would be understood (UK native). "has been sitting there for" / "has been sitting in the queue for" / "has been in the queue for" / "has been waiting for" .. a week. "sitting" by itself would probably not be used.
    – fdomn-m
    Commented Apr 8 at 7:45
  • What I'd say depends a little on how frustrated I want to seem: "Can someone on the team have a look at the PR that I submitted last week?" Seems to do the job. We don't actually need to say that it is "sitting" or "not receiving attention"
    – James K
    Commented Apr 8 at 17:21

In American English, when something like a request has been sitting, it has not been acted upon by anyone in a position to grant or deny it.

My application for a zoning variance has been sitting now for six months.

The verb can be used in any analogous situation:

I took my car to the shop on Monday and it's just been sitting there for four days. They haven't gotten back to me even though I've left them several voicemail messages.

P.S. I'm not going to cut-and-paste the definition (since I believe it violates Merriam-Webster's Terms of Use) but see sit, intransitive verb, def # 10.

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    Thank you. Is it listed in any authoritative dictionary? Commented Apr 7 at 11:20
  • The intransitive verb to sit has had among its meanings "to remain in a state or position" since at least the 12th c but would be complemented by a prepositional phrase expressing the state (e.g. a sentence like "The King would have his country sit in peace" would mean "remain not at war"). You'd have to check the big OED to see when the verb alone uncomplemented by such a phrase acquired this meaning of "to remain unchanged, quiescent, unattended to". I have a micro-print edition of the OED but my magnifying glass has gone for a walk.
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 7 at 12:17
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    @SergeyZolotarev OED has it as "II.26. intransitive. To be disregarded; to remain untouched or unused.", first cite 1839.
    – hobbs
    Commented Apr 8 at 13:55
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    Cambridge has: to stay in one place for a long time and not be used: - The encyclopedia sat on my shelf at home, gathering dust.
    – mcalex
    Commented Apr 10 at 4:45
  • In your second example you naturally wrote "it's just been sitting there", with the location "there" specified", as opposed to just "it's just been sitting". This is actually what stroked me as odd in the OP's sentence: using "sitting" without a complement. I would say a file is "sitting on a desk" or "sitting at the bottom of a drawer" or "sitting in the queue" or "sitting there", but not just "sitting".
    – Stef
    Commented Apr 10 at 9:12

I would just add that, at least in the north of England, I would find "sitting" to be the best way to express yourself here. Although the phrase is unremarkable in itself, I think it shows a high proficiency in the language because it's not directly obvious what the phrase should mean (backed up by you struggling to find it in the dictionary).

You asked in a comment how you should use it; it turns out you can express quite a bit with one word! However, it should always be accompanied by something else with a little more context related to who is responsible/where something is sitting.

  • "The PR has just been sitting in the queue for <some period of time>". This shows some level of frustration - the general expectation is that something should have been done by that point. That's because of the nature of PRs. The inclusion of "just" expresses a greater level of frustration and can be removed to tone it down quite a bit.
  • "It's been sitting on my boss' desk for some period>" Again, expressing frustration but now at a person. Now you're suggesting that something should have been done, while in the previous case it's in the context of a PR that everyone expects to be addressed. This is equivalent to "I sent an email to my boss to do <some action> and he's just been sitting on it".
  • In a card game you might say "I've been sitting on that card for the whole game!" when you play a winning hand at the end. It's somewhat equivalent to "it's been sitting in my deck the whole time!", though you'd probably be responding to someone asking you a question about that card. This time it's positive, although you're basically bragging a little that you knew to leave it alone until the right time to play it.
  • This one is a bit more abstract, I'm trying to think of a good situation. "We travelled all around the world to find <some important thing> and then find it's been sitting in the back garden the whole time!". Now you're expressing surprise and suggesting that you (or somebody) should probably have discovered this earlier.
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    All these examples are "sitting X" not just "sitting". "..in the queue", "..on my desk", "...on that card", "...in the garden". You wouldn't say, "I looked everywhere and it was just sitting back garden". The also have the sense of location "in/on" rather than OPs context of waiting.
    – fdomn-m
    Commented Apr 8 at 7:48
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    @fdomn-m I won't dispute that. I also said in my answer "it should always be accompanied by something else". I was responding to this comment which asked for how it might be used and that answer also addressed that "X" should be stated for it to sound natural. However, I don't think I have deviated too much from the question's intent with my examples
    – roganjosh
    Commented Apr 8 at 16:30
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    It's more than good enough no doubt, but "the best"? No room for improvement at all? I'd say that languishing is better, and positively conveys the lack of attention.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Apr 8 at 19:46
  • @BenVoigt I mean, you could say that and it would be more eloquent, but that isn't how people actually talk in day-to-day when you're dealing with multiple PRs daily. I still think "just sitting" is better at communicating the general frustration that comes with this vs. "flowery" language.
    – roganjosh
    Commented Apr 8 at 19:56
  • You'd need a very large thesaurus indeed to keep up that type of language if you wanted to talk about all the pull requests that everyday work life throws at you.
    – roganjosh
    Commented Apr 8 at 20:00

This use of "sit" is figurative, based on the metaphor of someone in the waiting room of an office. The person waiting will generally take a seat and just sit there idly until someone attends to them.

  • It had this meaning long before waiting rooms at the doctor's office.
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 8 at 17:59
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    I'm sure people sat somewhere to wait for things before, but the metaphor is the same.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 8 at 18:33
  • I thought the doctor's room was unnecessarily specific.
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 8 at 18:47
  • I said waiting room, lots of places have them. I wanted it to be an example people could understand.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 8 at 19:54

Lots of great answers here, but they all focus on the sense of 'sitting' as something that's waiting to be acted on.

This may be regional (I grew up in Michigan, USA), but I would also say something like

Where's the butter? It's sitting on the counter.

There is no implication that the butter is waiting for anything in particular, but is rather used to indicate only what the butter is doing. As a programmer, I would also say I've had PR's sit for a week, but in my head that usage of 'sit' doesn't necessary imply that the PR's are waiting on action, just that they are there.

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