bait and switch


: a sales tactic in which a customer is attracted by the advertisement of a low-priced item but is then encouraged to buy a higher-priced one
: the ploy of offering a person something desirable to gain favor (such as political support) then thwarting expectations with something less desirable

Examples of bait and switch in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The couture show involved a clever bait and switch: guests were funnelled through the back door of the Palais Garnier and, unbeknownst to them, onto the main opera-house stage. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2023 Learning about astrology can sometimes feel like a bait and switch. Madison Feller, ELLE, 6 Sep. 2023 This bait and switch went so far that the late former Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne famously urged U.S. consumers not to buy his Fiat 500e. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 2 Aug. 2023 Many of these concerns are driven by a sense that the past decade was an elaborate bait and switch. Josef Adalian, Vulture, 6 June 2023 But to assure the public that the new taxes weren’t some sort of a bait and switch, lawmakers made the new fund’s purpose clear. Kyle Whitmire, al, 6 Apr. 2023 But the notion of a miserable midlife turns out to be another bait and switch. Lydia Kiesling, New York Times, 1 Apr. 2023 Or a gag gift box that uses cursed artwork to conceal its actual contents with a bait and switch. Kevin Cortez, Popular Mechanics, 12 Oct. 2022 No one likes a bait and switch. J.d. Conway, Forbes, 28 Apr. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bait and switch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1962, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bait and switch was in 1962

Dictionary Entries Near bait and switch

Cite this Entry

“Bait and switch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition

bait and switch

: a fraudulent or deceptive sales practice in which a purchaser is attracted by advertisement of a low-priced item but then is encouraged to purchase a higher-priced one

called also bait advertising

More from Merriam-Webster on bait and switch

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