channel-surf

[chan-l-surf]
verb (used without object)
  1. to change from one channel on a television set to another with great or unusual frequency, especially by using a remote control.

Origin of channel-surf

An Americanism dating back to 1985–90
Related formschannel surfer, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Idioms and Phrases with channel surfing

channel surfing

Switching from one television station (channel) to another frequently, either to search for an interesting program or to keep track of several programs at once. For example, What did you see on TV last night?—Nothing much; I was just channel surfing. The term transfers the surfer's search for good waves to the viewer's search for programs. This practice became widespread with the use of remote-control devices for changing channels while remaining seated some distance from the television set. [1980s] A 1990s version is Internet surfing, a similar process for searching cyberspace.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.