View synonyms for switchboard


[ swich-bawrd, -bohrd ]


, Electricity.
  1. a structural unit on which are mounted switches and instruments necessary to complete telephone circuits manually.
  2. Also called lightboard. a panel of switches, dimmers, etc., for controlling the lighting on a stage or in an auditorium.


/ ˈswɪtʃˌbɔːd /


  1. an installation in a telephone exchange, office, hotel, etc, at which the interconnection of telephone lines is manually controlled
  2. an assembly of switchgear for the control of power supplies in an installation or building
“Collins English Dictionary — Complete & Unabridged” 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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Word History and Origins

Origin of switchboard1

An Americanism dating back to 1870–75; switch + board
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Example Sentences

The equipment filled much of a car’s trunk, and subscribers made calls by picking up the handset and speaking to a switchboard operator.

These women seemed like decent working folk — clerks and switchboard operators — yet they were spending their evenings out alone with men, who would buy them drinks and dinners.

From Ozy

Hundreds of calls jammed the switchboard at the hospital where she works, many hinting at physical violence against her, and accusing her of working for Big Pharma.

From Time

Within a few years, Coy was employing four operators to connect two hundred subscribers across several switchboards, and his much-expanded list now appeared in alphabetical order.

From Time

These switchboards housed a series of jacks, one per subscriber.

From Time

There's even some of those crazy vertical switchboard doodads.

Then Abdullah called for one of his private secretaries to hand over his name and an all-hours royal-switchboard telephone number.

There was a small thing which looked like the switchboard of a telegraph office.

The great window of the pilot room disclosed the pilot seats and the great switchboard to one side.

As his watch told him that Tom must be nearing the bottom he seated himself by the switchboard, headphones clamped over his ears.

The huge cables that brought the electric current to the switchboard lay molten on the floor.

It was his impression, the switchboard operator's impression that it was some long distance.


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More About Switchboard

What is a switchboard?

A switchboard is a device used to connect telephone calls.

Switchboards, which are now largely obsolete, consisted of a board of circuits and switches that needed to be manually adjusted for calls to be connected. The person who operated this kind of switchboard was called an operator or a switchboard operator.

Switchboards were used in telephone exchanges as well as places that had their own internal phone systems, such as offices and hotels.

In all of these settings, switchboards have been largely replaced with more advanced technology that does not require the manual connection of circuits. However, some devices might still be referred to as switchboards because they perform the same functions, just in automated ways.

Sometimes, the word switchboard was used as a way of referring to the place or people who operated the switchboard, as in Call the switchboard and have them connect you. It can still be used in this way even though such switchboards are no longer in common use.

The word switchboard can also refer to the control panel used to control lighting, such as on a stage or in an auditorium. This can also be called a lightboard.

It can also refer to an electrical device used to control the power supply in a building.

Example: My grandmother always tells me stories about how she worked as an operator and routed calls all over the world using the switchboard.

Where does switchboard come from?

The first records of the word switchboard come from the 1870s in the U.S. It is simply a compound word composed of the words switch and board.

Switchboards consisted of circuits and switches that needed to be manually changed and switched to different positions on the board based on how the call needed to be routed.

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What are some synonyms for switchboard?

What are some words that share a root or word element with switchboard

What are some words that often get used in discussing switchboard?

How is switchboard used in real life?

Switchboards are largely obsolete in telecommunications but the word is still sometimes used to refer to modern devices.

Try using switchboard!

Is switchboard used correctly in the following sentence?

When I called the department store, the switchboard operator asked which department I needed to be connected to.




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