Merriam-Webster shares definitions of 'stand back' and 'stand by' after Trump Proud Boy comment

The makers behind the Merriam-Webster dictionary on Tuesday night shared the definitions of “stand back” and “stand by” after President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE refused to denounce white supremacy and the Proud Boys.

During the presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenRev. Barber says best way to undercut extremism is with honesty Biden requires international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to US Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 MORE, Trump was asked by moderator Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceChris Wallace: This was best inaugural address I've ever heard Fox News's DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire Arkansas governor: Intelligence on state capitol protests 'not to the level that I'm bringing out the National Guard' MORE of Fox News to denounce white supremacists and militia groups who have aligned themselves with him. 

Trump asked Wallace to “give me a name," and Biden pointed to the Proud Boys, a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group.


“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. 

Merriam-Webster noted that “stand back” means to “take a few steps backwards" but “stand by” means “to be or to get ready to act.”


The Proud Boys describe themselves as “a pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world, also known as Western Chauvinists." They have been tied to violent protests, often in support of the president.

The far-right group celebrated online after they were mentioned during the debate, sharing a new logo with Trump’s remarks. Many of the members reportedly interpreted “stand back and stand by” as a call to arms.  

"This. This is Donald Trump's America," Biden wrote on Twitter. 

Congressional Democrats immediately tore into Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists.

"President Trump was asked to condemn white supremacy. He refused," tweeted Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' MORE (D-N.Y.). "He told white supremacists to 'stand back and stand by.' President Trump is a national disgrace, and Americans will not stand for it."

"Donald Trump is a white supremacist," added Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez spent inauguration evening supporting striking workers in New York Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation MORE (D-N.Y.). "People have been warning about this for a long time. They were ridiculed, called hyperbolic & radical not bc they were wrong, but bc others couldn’t accept that our country elected a supremacist as President. This is fascism at our door."