bait and switch


Definition of bait and switch

1 : 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
2 : 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 Some journalists and news executives were privately outraged by the bait and switch. Brian Stelter, CNN, "White House turns press corps into social distancing props," 5 June 2020 In the song, and especially in the video, with the Katy Konclusion, what emerges feels like a bait and switch, or really just a switch. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "For Taylor Swift, Is Ego Stronger Than Pride?," 18 June 2019 The bombshell turns in the final pages of Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys and Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman Is in Trouble were two of my favorite literary bait and switches this year. David Canfield,, "The year in books: Everything you need to know about 2019's biggest titles," 18 Dec. 2019 The red blend of Grolleau, Gamay and Côt (the fancy French word for Malbec) from the Loire Valley was a thrilling bait and switch that smelled like wet Redwoods in a barnyard, covered by flowering star jasmine. Marissa A. Ross, Bon Appétit, "The Wine That Changed My Life Has a New Vintage, and I Can't Stop Thinking About It," 27 Sep. 2019 From late summer to the start of autumn, actively feeding common carp can also be made to fall for a classic bait and switch. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "Fish Cannons, Koi Herpes and Other Tools to Combat Invasive Carp," 4 June 2019 Some ploys have been a bait and switch, like the nearly $3 million fraud that saw wine from private lockers in California swapped out for cheap wine by a man who sold the really good stuff at auction — and went to state prison. Laurel Demkovich, Washington Post, "A man told wine fanciers he’d store their pricey bottles. Instead, he sold them and pocketed proceeds.," 3 Aug. 2019 Everything comes together so spectacularly that the bait and switch is still terrifying — and a perfect example of what Killing Eve is capable of. Caroline Framke, Vox, "Killing Eve’s funny, frightening third episode shows why it’s the best TV surprise of the year," 29 Apr. 2018 Flynn has described her book as something of a bait and switch – a juicy crime drama that is actually an exploration of one woman’s pain and the relationships between three generations of women. Anna Silman, The Cut, "Sharp Objects," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bait and switch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bait and switch

1962, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of bait and switch was in 1962

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Cite this Entry

“Bait and switch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for bait and switch

bait and switch


English Language Learners Definition of bait and switch

US : a selling method in which a customer is attracted by the advertisement of a low-priced product but then is encouraged to buy a more expensive one

bait and switch


Legal Definition of 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

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