switch

[swich]
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noun

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)


Idioms

    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

1585–95; earlier swits, switz slender riding whip, flexible stick; compare Low German (Hanoverian) schwutsche long, thin stick
Related formsswitch·a·ble, adjectiveswitch·er, nounswitch·like, adjectiveun·switch·a·ble, adjectiveun·switched, adjective

Synonyms for switch

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for switching

Contemporary Examples of switching

Historical Examples of switching

  • Jim on his side of the creek stood thinking and switching his leg.

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

  • With the day just opening, like switching on all the electric lights in the world!

  • "Find out in the morning how she feels about it," said Elinor, switching off the light.

    Miss Pat at School

    Pemberton Ginther

  • Then all the energy was snuffed out of him like the switching off of an electric current.

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming

  • He went quickly into his bedroom, switching on the light, to get a glass of water.


British Dictionary definitions for switching

switch

noun

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

verb

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
Derived Formsswitcher, nounswitchlike, adjective

Word Origin for switch

C16: perhaps from Middle Dutch swijch branch, twig
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

Word Origin and History for switching

switch

n.

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.

switch

v.

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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with switching

switch

In addition to the idioms beginning with switch

  • switch off
  • switch on

also see:

  • asleep at the switch
  • bait and switch
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.