Definition of sit in English:

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Pronunciation: /sɪt/

verb (sits, sitting; past and past participle sat /sat/)

1 [no object] Adopt or be in a position in which one’s weight is supported by one’s buttocks rather than one’s feet and one’s back is upright: you’d better sit down I sat next to him at dinner
More example sentences
  • The patient used her arms while sitting to support the weight of the trunk in order to avoid pressure on the sacrum.
  • The design encourages children to sit upright rather than slumped.
  • And everyone who gives is also becoming active in our support, rather than sitting at home frustrated at the media coverage.
take a seat, seat oneself, settle down, be seated, take a chair;
perch, install oneself, ensconce oneself, plant oneself, plump oneself, flop, collapse, sink down, flump
informal take the load/weight off one's feet, park oneself, plonk oneself
British informal take a pew
1.1 [with object] Cause (someone) to sit: I sat the baby on my lap
More example sentences
  • I waddled over to the chair and managed to sit myself down.
  • Now, sit yourself down and tell us all about your struggles.
  • Just sit yourself down, and I'll bring you some refreshment.
1.2 [no object] (Of an animal) rest with the hind legs bent and the body close to the ground: it is important for a dog to sit when instructed
More example sentences
  • But the creatures did not sit to look around in wonder as Rabbit had.
  • I couldn't help but to notice a small, dirty tabby cat sitting attentively by a wooden leg of a jewellery stand.
  • And all the older monkeys are just sitting there and taking it easy.
1.3 [with object] Ride or keep one’s seat on (a horse): have you never sat a horse before?
More example sentences
  • It was the only way they would get him to sit his horse for the ride home.
  • The South Carolina general sat his horse, chewing manically on his cigar.
  • They only sat their horses or stood there, gazing up at the temple as if they were afraid to break some magical spell.
1.4 [with object] (Of a table, room, or building) be large enough for (a specified number of seated people): the chapel sat about 3,000 people
More example sentences
  • There was a large oval shaped table in the center of the room, sitting a round number of twelve.
  • Each table could sit anything from four to eight people.
  • The hall sits 2000.
hold, seat, have seats for, have space for, have room for, accommodate, take
1.5 (sit for) Pose, typically in a seated position, for (an artist or photographer): Walter Deverell asked her to sit for him
More example sentences
  • It was the subjects who served the artist by agreeing to sit for him.
  • One recalls Roland Barthes's formulation of photographic exposure of being posed in exteriority and becoming a specter in sitting for a photograph.
  • During this period, sitting for a photograph had a certain formality.
pose, model
1.6 [with object] North American Not use (a player) in a game: the manager must decide who to sit in the World Series
More example sentences
  • He'll sit a hot player like SF Marcus Fizer or PG A.J. Guyton for whole quarters despite the fact they are hot.
  • The Royals recently demoted Berroa to Class AA, and the Indians sat Gerut for five games.
  • At some point, the Giants may ultimately decide that sitting Shockey is best.
2 [no object, with adverbial of place] Be or remain in a particular position or state: the fridge was sitting in a pool of water
More example sentences
  • Revelin Moss sits at the foot of Grisedale Pike about 300m above sea level.
  • A mixture of tension, anger and fear has gripped the Pakistan north-west frontier town of Peshawar, which sits at the foot of the Khyber Pass leading into Afghanistan.
  • Below that sits a similarly positioned on/off key, two fast access buttons - pre-set to run the diary and address book apps - and up and down scroll buttons.
be situated, be located, be positioned, be sited, be placed, perch, rest, stand
2.1 [with adverbial] (Of an item of clothing) fit a person well or badly as specified: the blue uniform sat well on his big frame
More example sentences
  • We'd black berets that wouldn't sit right and black boots rich with dust and hungry for polish.
  • He was tall and lean; his dark-gray suit of military cut did not sit well on him.
  • Sometimes, a person dressed in the most expensive clothes can look like a fish out of water because his clothes do not sit well on him.
2.2 (sit with) Be harmonious with: his shyness doesn’t sit easily with Hollywood tradition
More example sentences
  • It sits rather uncomfortably between two camps: too childish for most adults, yet too gruesome for most children.
  • You know, drawing the analogy between men and dogs doesn't sit too well with them.
  • This sits badly with the Act assertion that all data be ‘obtained fairly’.
be harmonious, go, fit in, harmonize, mesh
3 [no object] (Of a parliament, committee, court of law, etc.) be engaged in its business: Parliament continued sitting until March 16
More example sentences
  • The European Parliament sits at exactly the same time as the Dáil on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • The court sits at Parliament House in Edinburgh and there is no appeal in criminal matters to the House of Lords at Westminster.
  • The Parliament is sitting again this week, with the Senate holding Estimates Committee hearings.
meet, assemble, convene, be in session
3.1Serve as a member of a council, jury, or other official body: they were determined that women jurists should sit on the tribunal
More example sentences
  • The existing position is that specially trained panels of medical and lay people, on which GMC council members no longer sit, make final decisions on fitness to practise.
  • In 1990 he had to resign as a councillor for Bowling when new rules were introduced preventing paid council officers sitting as elected members.
  • What we have to remember is that, as skeptics, our role is not necessarily well served by sitting as judge and jury.
serve on, have a seat on, hold a seat on, be a member of, carry out duties on, work on
3.2 (sit for) British Be the Member of Parliament for (a particular constituency): since the war members of several parties have sat for Anglesey
More example sentences
  • He entered Parliament in 1818, sitting for several constituencies until returned for the City of London in 1841, which he represented until his elevation to the peerage as Earl Russell.
  • He was at last allowed back into Parliament in 1774 and sat for Middlesex until 1790.
  • Frankly, ministers don't like being told what they can and can't do with English education spending by an MP who sits for a Scottish constituency.
4 [with object] British Take (an examination): pupils are required to sit nine subjects at GCSE [no object]: he was about to sit for his Cambridge entrance exam
More example sentences
  • So sitting an examination with glasses seems an accurate way of assessing their eligibility for the job.
  • It is absolutely essential that by the time you come to sit your final examination in economics, that you are fully aware of the pitfalls that lie in wait.
  • Turing sat the scholarship examinations in 1929 and won an exhibition, but not a scholarship.
5 [no object, in combination] Live in someone’s house while they are away and look after their pet or pets: Fenella had been cat-sitting for me I puppy-sat for Katie a couple of weeks ago See also babysit.
More example sentences
  • The girls have weeded a neighbor's yard, done some dog sitting and worked at extra chores around home.
  • As it turns out, they had been calling the ISDN line at home, not having realised I'm cat-sitting.
  • If you are without a furry companion, offer to dog-sit for a friend or family member.
6 [no object] (Of a bird) rest on a branch; perch: the robin sat on a low branch
More example sentences
  • A quetzal sits upon a branch, yet this species of trogon is not found outside the Mexican and Central American cloud forests.
  • Two sea eagles sit hunched on a branch, their expressions indicating distaste.
  • A golden bird sang a melodious song as it sat, perched in a glittering green tree.
6.1(Of a bird) remain on its nest to incubate its egg: (as adjective sitting) a sitting hen
More example sentences
  • There are now eggs in the nest and she sits there all day.
  • You may see stiff-winged fulmars gliding effortlessly, or hear them cackling as they sit precariously on ledges incubating single eggs.
  • I don't have much experience of a broody hen sitting on the eggs.


[in singular]
1A period of sitting: a sit in the shade
More example sentences
  • Come check it out and play for awhile, or just have a sit in the shade for a bit.
  • Try to do at least one thing different each day - simple things: take a walk or have a sit in the park.
2 archaic The way in which an item of clothing fits someone: the sit of her frock
More example sentences
  • Many ladies entirely spoil the sit of the skirts by retaining the usual impedimenta of petticoats.
  • The sit of the collar brought tears into my eyes, sir, when first I saw it.


In sentences such as we were sat there for hours the use of the past participle sat with the verb ‘to be’ is informal and not part of standard English. Originally only in dialect, it is now common in British (though not US) English. Standard English uses the present participle sitting in similar contexts, as in we were sitting there for hours.



sit at someone's feet

Be someone’s pupil or follower: he returned to Venice to sit at the feet of Monteverdi
More example sentences
  • Do your students sit at your feet and follow your every word? Is that an ideal relationship?
  • Anyone would think we weren't here sitting at his feet.
  • We never sit at their feet and learn from their experiences.

sit in judgement


sit on the fence

see fence.

sit on one's arse

vulgar slang Do nothing; fail to take action.

sit on one's hands

Take no action: they lost office largely because their traditional supporters sat on their hands and stayed at home
More example sentences
  • But around one quarter sat on their hands, neither applauding nor joining in the booing from a group of about 200 people.
  • And there's really nothing for Martin to worry about since most of those who would vote against him have even been driven out, have quit the party in frustration, or are quietly sitting on their hands.
  • ‘The police are not sitting on their hands,’ Mr Sutton said.

sit (heavy) on the stomach

(Of food) take a long time to be digested.
Example sentences
  • Salmon baked in tarragon and cray fish tails with basil in filo pastry do not sit on the stomach in the same way as most festive fare.
  • The first two helpings didn't taste like much except vanilla, though silkier, but the ice cream sat heavy on the stomach because of the syrup's sweetness.
  • My the dogs gobble them up too quickly and they didn't sit on the stomach well.

sit on someone's tail

Drive extremely close behind another vehicle, typically while waiting for a chance to overtake.
Example sentences
  • However, once he passed the furlong marker he started to send out distress signals and the next rider, sitting on his tail, set about taking advantage.
  • We didn't want the filly opening up and going away so the plan was always to sit on her tail and take it to her at the two-furlong pole.
  • However, as the race developed, Faulkner came back into contention and was sitting on Westbrook 's tail with two laps left to run.

sit tight

Remain firmly in one’s place: this shouldn’t take long—just sit tight
More example sentences
  • I'll just go take Blake to make arrangements and the rest of you sit tight.
  • They assumed that the crowd would sit tight even if the arrangements were not up to the mark.
  • Should we sit tight and wait to be rescued - and risk choking on fumes or being crushed in a tunnel collapse?
stay put, stay there, wait there, remain in one's place
8.1Refrain from taking action or changing one’s mind: we’re advising our clients to sit tight and neither to buy nor sell
More example sentences
  • There is still more to come, but we're sitting tight and waiting for when the time will happen.
  • His outlandish haul of major championships is the product of a cautious approach, a refusal to take risks and a determination to sit tight and wait for others to make mistakes.
  • All we can do is sit tight and wait and that is simply making a worrying situation even more difficult.
take no action, wait, hold back, hang back, be patient, bide one's time, play a waiting game
informal hold one's horses

sit up (and take notice)

informal Suddenly start paying attention or have one’s interest aroused: young people are voting with their feet—employers will have to sit up and take notice
More example sentences
  • This presence in high profile Silicon Valley suddenly made the world sit up and take notice.
  • This is exactly the sort of statement that makes a book lover sit up and take notice and it certainly got my attention.
  • Just as happened with the fuel crisis, the Westminster politicians will eventually have to sit up and take notice of Yorkshire's discontent.

Phrasal verbs


sit back

Relax: sit back and enjoy the music
More example sentences
  • It is a book that is hard to put down so give yourself plenty of time, sit back, relax and enjoy.
  • So, if you are a woman who needs time to be with yourself, sit back, relax, and enjoy these movies.
  • Limbaugh loves sitting back and relaxing with a cigar.
relax, unwind, lie back, loosen up
informal let it all hang out, lighten up, veg out
North American informal hang loose, stay loose, chill out, kick back
1.1Take no action; choose not to become involved: I can’t just sit back and let Liz get on with it
More example sentences
  • The drive is now on to sell season tickets for the new term - but I know there are a lot of people sitting back and waiting to see what is about to happen before they make any decisions.
  • And I did it by not sitting back and waiting for the school or company to provide me with the requisite classes.
  • Analysts are concerned that the group is sitting back and waiting for the forecast economic recovery rather than cutting costs.

sit by

Take no action in order to prevent something undesirable from occurring: I’m not going to sit by and let an innocent man go to jail
More example sentences
  • I was sitting by with the kids as this scene came up, prepared to talk it over with them as necessary.
  • What does it say when the Government sits by impotently when a star witness is gunned down in broad daylight on the Bulgarian Supreme Court steps?
  • If he sits by and lets martial law happen without objecting strongly, his political career will be over.

sit down

1 archaic Encamp outside a city in order to besiege it: with a large force he sat down before Ravenna
More example sentences
  • William drew from his encampment at Cahirconlish, and, confident, of an easy victory, sat down before Limerick.
  • The Russian army, provided with a full park of artillery for the siege, sat down before it in the middle of May.
2British Accept or put up with an unwelcome situation or development: if they think I’m going to sit down under it, they can think again
More example sentences
  • Moved to the bench was something he wasn't about to take sitting down.
  • A proposal to shut the public loos in Pewsey is not being taken sitting down by villagers.
  • The result was that this unfortunate person had to sit down under it and do nothing at all.

sit in

1(Of a group of people) occupy a place as a form of protest: students have been sitting in on and off this week
More example sentences
  • The next morning Jesse Jackson would come and compare us to young folks sitting in for civil rights for black citizens during his youth.
  • Just as we were ready to enter Allen's office to sit-in we learned that he had decided to vote against any more funding for the occupation.
  • We had been condemning segregation verbally for a long time, but we had lent ourselves to it by not sitting in.
2Attend a meeting or discussion without taking an active part in it: I sat in on a training session for therapists
More example sentences
  • The school was also ranked third in the country when inspectors sat in on lessons.
  • The visiting teachers sat in on lessons and had the chance to talk to both teachers and pupils.
  • Three years ago Camalyn had gone into work with her mother and sat in on one of the anger management classes.
attend, be present at, be an observer at, observe, watch;
North American  audit

sit in for

Temporarily carry out the duties of (another person): he’s sitting in for the regular breakfast show disc jockey
More example sentences
  • I'm Roger Cossack sitting in for Larry tonight.
  • I'm Jim Clancy, sitting in for Tumi Makgabo this week.
  • Tonight, Leeza Gibbons is sitting in for Larry King.
stand in for, fill in for, take the place of, cover for, substitute for, be a substitute for, act as stand-in for, deputize for;
hold the fort
informal sub for
North American informal pinch-hit for

sit on

1Fail to deal with: she sat on the article until a deadline galvanized her into putting words to paper
More example sentences
  • There is now enormous choice in the current account market, so there is no excuse to sit on an account which is not offering the best deal.
  • The company is regarded as more financially capable than its rival of doing such a deal, but appears happy to sit on its holding.
  • I've been sitting on this story for a week or so, trying to figure out what to do with it.
2Subdue (someone), typically by saying something intended to discomfit or embarrass them: someone should have sat on him when he was young
More example sentences
  • He bears the imprint of whoever sits on him and the Vice-President really sat on him.
  • My middle son lives with his dad and is 20, but he doesn't give me the time of day, but my youngest is 5 (going on 20) and I have really sat on him hard.
2.1Suppress (something): I want this story sat on
More example sentences
  • The press has been restrained in sitting on a story about her family.
  • But I find it impossible to sit on a good story, especially if there is money to be made.
  • No longer is it easy for a news organization to sit on a big story and publish it at a set time, when all the dust has settled.

sit something out

Not take part in a particular event or activity: he had to sit out Sheffield Wednesday’s UEFA Cup game
More example sentences
  • When Johnson refused to restore Cobb, the players sat out the next game, in Philadelphia.
  • When a player sits out the entire game, the scene afterwards at home can be pretty ugly.
  • If the instance is bad enough, a player may sit out a game.
7.1Wait without moving or taking action until a particular unwelcome situation or process is over: most of the workers seem to be sitting the crisis out, waiting to see what will happen
More example sentences
  • After calling his wife he said: ‘All I can do is sit it out and wait until the Tube and buses get going again.’
  • Overnight a bit of a storm started ripping up and we thought we'd better wait, sit it out here until the storm abates.
  • So, why not sit things out, and wait for the next generation of leaders?

sit through

Stay until the end of (a tedious or lengthy meeting or performance): the movie is the worst film I have sat through this year
More example sentences
  • So, it was a case of fitting in last minute tweaks on that between editing a mammoth group test and sitting through a planning meeting in the afternoon.
  • She sits through most Council meetings like a rabbit caught in the headlights whilst her deputy tries out his stand-up comic routine.
  • People who got on were those who could sit through endless meetings without falling asleep.

sit up (or sit someone up)

1Move (or cause someone to move) from a lying or slouching to a sitting position: Amy sat up and rubbed her eyes I’ll sit you up on the pillows
More example sentences
  • With a sigh, the stranger walked over toward Kiro and sat her up straight.
  • Sit on the cushion with it more to your rear than to your front and bring the body to the best possible position, sitting up quite straight.
  • After another long moment of silence he sat up straighter and moved to stand up.
2Refrain from going to bed until a later time than usual: we sat up late to watch a horror film
More example sentences
  • I sat up late last night working on this project for my niece.
  • He sat up late thinking about it and deep in the middle of the night he wrote to me about his feelings.


Old English sittan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zitten, German sitzen, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sedere and Greek hezesthai.

Words that rhyme with sit

acquit, admit, backlit, bedsit, befit, bit, Brit, Britt, chit, commit, demit, dit, emit, fit, flit, frit, git, grit, hit, intermit, it, kit, knit, legit, lickety-split, lit, manumit, mishit, mitt, nit, omit, outsit, outwit, permit, pit, Pitt, pretermit, quit, remit, retrofit, skit, slit, snit, spit, split, sprit, squit, submit, transmit, twit, whit, wit, writ, zit

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sit

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