- a slender, flexible shoot, rod, etc., used especially in whipping or disciplining.
- an act of whipping or beating with or as with such an object; a stroke, lash, or whisking movement.
- a slender growing shoot, as of a plant.
- a hairpiece consisting of a bunch or tress of long hair or some substitute, fastened together at one end and worn by women to supplement their own hair.
- Electricity. a device for turning on or off or directing an electric current or for making or breaking a circuit.
- Railroads. a track structure for diverting moving trains or rolling stock from one track to another, commonly consisting of a pair of movable rails.
- a turning, shifting, or changing: a switch of votes to another candidate.
- Bridge. a change to a suit other than the one played or bid previously.
- Basketball. a maneuver in which two teammates on defense shift assignments so that each guards the opponent usually guarded by the other.
- a tuft of hair at the end of the tail of some animals, as of the cow or lion.
- to whip or beat with a switch or the like; lash: He switched the boy with a cane.
- to move, swing, or whisk (a cane, a fishing line, etc.) with a swift, lashing stroke.
- to shift or exchange: The two girls switched their lunch boxes.
- to turn, shift, or divert: to switch conversation from a painful subject.
- Electricity. to connect, disconnect, or redirect (an electric circuit or the device it serves) by operating a switch (often followed by off or on): I switched on a light.
- to move or transfer (a train, car, etc.) from one set of tracks to another.
- to drop or add (cars) or to make up (a train).
- Movies, Television. to shift rapidly from one camera to another in order to change camera angles or shots.
- to strike with or as with a switch.
- to change direction or course; turn, shift, or change.
- to exchange or replace something with another: He used to smoke this brand of cigarettes, but he switched.
- to move or sway back and forth, as a cat's tail.
- to be shifted, turned, etc., by means of a switch.
- Basketball. to execute a switch.
- Bridge. to lead a card of a suit different from the suit just led by oneself or one's partner.
- asleep at the switch, Informal. failing to perform one's duty, missing an opportunity, etc., because of negligence or inattention: He lost the contract because he was asleep at the switch.
Origin of switch
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for switching
King has caucused with the Democrats since being elected in 2012 but has said he is open to switching sides.The Independents Who Could Tip the Senate in November
October 13, 2014
“If someone drinks [more than] 20 ounces of soda per day, switching them to diet soda will help weight loss,” Roussell says.Are Artificial Sweeteners Wrecking Your Diet?
September 30, 2014
Since switching the doorknobs, Hoffman says, Alexa and everyone else in the household sleeps better.Is It Wrong for Parents to Lock Up Their Disabled Kids?
August 4, 2014
He claimed he was in the process of switching sides when he was arrested and sent to Guantanamo.CIA Chief, White House Chief of Staff Long Argued the Taliban 5 Could Go Free
Josh Rogin, Eli Lake
June 7, 2014
Today consumers react by cutting the cord and switching to cheaper alternatives.Amazon Stock May Be Up, but the Company Still Doesn’t Make Any Money
October 25, 2013
Jim on his side of the creek stood thinking and switching his leg.Lord Jim
With the day just opening, like switching on all the electric lights in the world!Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal
G. Harvey Ralphson
"Find out in the morning how she feels about it," said Elinor, switching off the light.Miss Pat at School
Then all the energy was snuffed out of him like the switching off of an electric current.The Crooked House
He went quickly into his bedroom, switching on the light, to get a glass of water.The Daffodil Mystery
- a mechanical, electrical, electronic, or optical device for opening or closing a circuit or for diverting energy from one part of a circuit to another
- a swift and usually sudden shift or change
- an exchange or swap
- a flexible rod or twig, used esp for punishment
- the sharp movement or blow of such an instrument
- a tress of false hair used to give added length or bulk to a woman's own hairstyle
- the tassel-like tip of the tail of cattle and certain other animals
- any of various card games in which the suit is changed during play
- US and Canadian a railway siding
- US and Canadian a railway point
- Australian informal See switchboard
- to shift, change, turn aside, or change the direction of (something)
- to exchange (places); replace (something by something else)the battalions switched fronts
- mainly US and Canadian to transfer (rolling stock) from one railway track to another
- (tr) to cause (an electric current) to start or stop flowing or to change its path by operating a switch
- to swing or cause to swing, esp back and forth
- (tr) to lash or whip with or as if with a switch
Word Origin and History for switching
1590s, "slender riding whip," probably from a Flemish or Low German word akin to Hanoverian swutsche, a variant of Low German zwukse "long thin stick, switch," from Germanic base *swih- (cf. Old High German zwec "wooden peg," German Zweck "aim, design," originally "peg as a target," Zwick "wooden peg"), perhaps connected with PIE root *swei- "to swing, bend, to turn."
The meaning "device for changing the direction of something or making or breaking a connection" is first recorded 1797. "The peg sense suits the mech(anical) applications" [Weekley], and these senses may be a direct borrowing from those senses in Continental Germanic languages rather than a continuation of the "pliant wand" sense. The meaning "a change, a reversal, an exchange, a substitution" is first recorded 1920.
1610s, "to strike with a switch," from switch (n.). Related: Switched; switching. The meaning "turn off or on" is first recorded 1853 of trains on tracks, 1881 of electricity, 1932 of radio or (later) television. Sense of "shift, divert" is from 1860. Meaning "to change one thing for another" is recorded from 1919. Switch-hitter is 1930s in baseball slang, 1956 in the sense of "bisexual person."
Idioms and Phrases with switching
In addition to the idioms beginning with switch
- switch off
- switch on
- asleep at the switch
- bait and switch