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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.

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    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
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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.

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    Nor outside of N.America? where it would appear that all/most of your quotes come from? – TrevorD Sep 6 '13 at 22:56
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    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
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    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
  • I think it's a remnant of an older habit. The military, certainly, is rather conservative language-wise. Didn't it used to mean "nominated for" or "presented to receive honors", as in "he was stood up for an OBE"? BTW, not in IT and not in the military for last 30 years, but had no problems with the usage. – Phil Sweet Aug 16 '16 at 15:45
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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.

Edit:

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,..."

  • 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
  • @JeffSahol: Or dread! I haven't decided yet. – Cerberus Sep 6 '13 at 17:42
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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.
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    Goodness, christened just means named and erected is downright strange when talking of a web page! – terdon Sep 6 '13 at 16:24
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    @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
  • you could have 'constructed' considering the number of 'under construction' websites that seemed to exist in the 90's – Smock Aug 15 at 12:47
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I currently work in Canadian federal government and law enforcement and use the term myself but am not always understood so I can't say it's common. However, I have served in both the Canadian and Australian armies and in those occupations worked with British, American, and other forces and it was clear we all understood "stand up" to have the same meaning; to come to a state of readiness.

  • Perhaps this relates to 'stand down' which is a very common term to mean to relax from a state of readyness? – Smock Aug 15 at 12:48
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I've worked in a marketing communications role for U.S. IT services companies for a few decades, and I've only recently heard the phrase "stand up a system" by the IT professionals I support at my current employer. "Stand up" is used here to describe specific client engagements in which a software system is set up or deployed for the first time. My current employer's primary market is U.S.-based oil and gas operators (i.e., exploration and production companies), and one of our secondary markets is startup O&G companies, which usually operate for a time without a lot of IT systems and infrastructure that is essential in mid-size and larger O&G companies. And it's in our marketing efforts for startups where I'm encountering the "stand up a system" language (e.g., "We can help you stand up your operational and regulatory reporting systems. . . .")--which is why I would offer that in the U.S. IT services market, "to stand up a system" means to set up a system and to do so for the first time.

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The phrase seems to be ancient. The Hebrew verb "qum," meaning "to stand-up," is used in the sense of standing-up (that is establishing) a covenant. This is an ancient use of the both the political/military and technical usages, as it refers to physically standing-up a large stone on which the covenant terms are inscribed. http://www.biblehub.com/hebrew/6965.htm

  • Welcome to ELU, this looks more like a comment than a complete answer. Once you get 50 rep you'll be able to comment on any post. – P. O. Aug 16 '16 at 15:29
  • While interesting, I'm afraid I don't see much relevance. I'm sure the equivalent phrase exists in several languages. I was asking about English though, so examples from other languages aren't really relevant. – terdon Aug 16 '16 at 17:51
  • @terdon This is an equivalent usage in another language for the term. If you look at the usages in the link it refers to rising up from kneeling as well as constructing. I think "to stand up a server" is a somewhat modern, technical colloquialism but I'm far from an expert. – opello Aug 17 '16 at 3:25
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I can confirm it is used among tech professionals, unfortunately. This, along with "automagic" are two abhorrent perversions of English by techies.

  • 'This, along with X are ...' – Nigel J May 31 '18 at 22:54
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I first heard the term "stood up" in 1999. It comes from the telecommunications industry. At that time, when an Engineer programmed a router or server, he or she would generally lay it on a table or the floor, horizontally (on its rubber feet, largest surface area parallel to the table or floor). When it was ready to be added to the server farm, it would be placed in a rack, vertically, or "stood up". So unless anyone can find this usage of the term prior to 1999 or so, I would think this is its provenance.

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    Welcome to EL&U! What a good answer, it could however bee even further improved by including sources of research. If you can find any I will gladly give you an up-vote. – A Lambent Eye Jan 16 at 18:20
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    That's very interesting, thanks! Although I also agree that it would be greatly improved by a reference. Also, I've never seen a vertical rack! All the ones I know are horizontal, but I haven't seen one earlier than ~2002 or so. Still, are you sure? – terdon Jan 16 at 18:27
  • Years ago (late 90's), I would see a 50/50 split between rack mounted servers and older servers that were basically what you would call a workstation (beefy PC) now, not counting the massive mainframes that is. – Smock Aug 15 at 12:53

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