English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was reading this question on meta.ELU and was struck by what, to me, was a strange use of the phrasal verb to stand up:

The site for English Language Learners was stood up in large part so that non-native speakers could have a place where their questions, which would be regarded by some to be "too basic" for ELU, could ask their questions. The site was stood up in January of this year.

Now, to me that means that the poor site was left waiting for someone who never showed up. However, the author of the question (J.R., one of our highest rep users) seems to be using it to mean was set up. Is this common usage? Is it from a particular dialect? I have never come across it before and cannot find it in the dictionary definitions that I checked.

share|improve this question
I agree. Very strange word choice for an English language site. The closest I can get is To bring something up and set it into a standing position. Laura stood the sofa up on end. – mplungjan Sep 6 '13 at 16:22
@mplungjan For exactly this reason I don't find the phrase odd at all. The speaker could use "created" or "founded," but a site that is now standing could (figuratively) walk around on its own. – Jack Ryan Sep 8 '13 at 19:29
Sounds vaguely "northern" to my southern english ear! But then the 2nd part of the quote would have been "The site were stood up in January..." – Martin F Jan 28 '14 at 6:04
up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is very interesting; as the offending writer, I had no idea this would sound so strange to so many.

I did some research, and I found that the term seems to be used almost exclusively by two communities:

  • Computer systems and web development
  • Government and military organizations

Given that I have a computer science background with more than a decade of government service, I suppose it makes the expression sound especially natural to my ear. (As I've said in other answers and comments, the longer you are familiar with some expression, the easier it is to presume others are familiar with it, too.)

Here are some usages I found scouring the web. As one can see, each instance can be tied back to one the two realms I have mentioned – government organizations, or technical support:

  • The Wyoming Military Department will stand up a new directorate
  • “The economy and tourism in the region Batur and Kintamani Bangli will be more advanced, because behind Mount Batur, it will stand up a new airport,” said Wacik.
  • This fall, AMC will stand up a new command that will coordinate the activities of the Army’s extensive web of labs and technology centers
  • In two years, we’ve restructured twice around getting to the right market-focused, customer-focused type of organization. We stood up a new business development organization, and we were able to move our win rates from the low teens to close to 50 percent
  • In anticipation of my upcoming iPhone application release, I figured it was time to stand up a new website
  • For example, the marketing department wants to run a new ad campaign, needs to stand up a new website, [or] maybe it needs to put up a new shopping portal to respond to a threat from a competitor.
  • The customer stood up a new server and proceeded to restore the system from tape backup.

So, yes, the expression "stood up" means roughly "set up, organized, and opened for business," but, evidently, it might not be a familiar expression outside of those two domains.

share|improve this answer
Nor outside of N.America? where it would appear that all/most of your quotes come from? – TrevorD Sep 6 '13 at 22:56
Could be, although Quote #2 comes from the region of Bali; according to the article, "the region .. located north of Mount Batur is Kubutambahan and Tejakula." But I wouldn't be surprised if it's a usage found primarily in the U.S. – J.R. Sep 7 '13 at 9:31
Been in IT since 1986, although not in the US but 90% of technical and related material I have read is American. I have never heard this expression until 2 days ago. – mplungjan Sep 8 '13 at 19:39

It is a synonym for "set up" with reference to servers, web sites, or applications, usually with the implication that the process of setting up is straightforward and quick. This is semi-technical jargon, apparently not in any dictionary yet (I even tried ngrams searches), but in fairly common use.

I say semi-technical, because it is the kind of phrase one hears more from people who are trying to sound technical or from marketing types than from the people actually responsible for "standing up" a site.


Here's another site cite: http://ctovision.com/2012/01/quickstart-guide-stand-up-your-cloud-based-servers-with-rackspace/ "Quickstart Guide: Stand up your cloud-based servers with Rackspace"

And: http://envalo.com/3-sizes-of-magento-which-one-fits-you-best/ "It is a great tool for this group of users to quickly and cost efficiently stand up a site,..."

share|improve this answer
Huh, really? Could you elaborate? Give me an example sentence? What region would that be? I am relatively proficient in computer speak but have never heard it used in this way. – terdon Sep 6 '13 at 17:16
You're probably right, but I must say I never hear this, so it must not be extremely widespread (yet). – Cerberus Sep 6 '13 at 17:18
Well, looks like it is indeed used, thanks for the links. The first uses both stand up and standup oddly enough. I still find it strange but for some reason stood up seems even stranger. Oh well, language changes. – terdon Sep 6 '13 at 17:38
@Cerberus we can only hope. – JeffSahol Sep 6 '13 at 17:41
@Cerberus definitely dread, any "evolution" that increases ambiguity is a bad thing for the language as far as I'm concerned. – terdon Sep 6 '13 at 18:51

According to Wiktionary (and my own opinion) you are indeed correct. Some more fitting words would be:

  • founded
  • launched
  • created
  • christened <- would work, but is kind of weird.
  • erected <- also kind of weird.
share|improve this answer
Goodness, christened just means named and erected is downright strange when talking of a web page! – terdon Sep 6 '13 at 16:24
@terdon: Christened is not totally unheard of. I've come across it before. Erected is odd, but again, not unheard of. People erect monuments and statues and have sometimes commandeered the word for the web. – Jacobm001 Sep 6 '13 at 16:27

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.