\ ˈswich How to pronounce switch (audio) \
plural switches

Definition of switch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a slender flexible whip, rod, or twig a riding switch
2 : an act of switching: such as
a : a blow with a switch
b : a shift from one to another
c : a change from the usual that outfit is a switch
3 : a tuft of long hairs at the end of the tail of an animal (such as a cow) — see cow illustration
4 : a device made usually of two movable rails and necessary connections and designed to turn a locomotive or train from one track to another
5a : a device for making, breaking, or changing the connections in an electrical circuit
b : a software icon that is used to select between one of usually two available states Tap Edit and then toggle the switch next to each supported service to the appropriate setting.— Jason Cipriani Other features … include: … A software switch that lets you change the side button's function to be either volume mute or orientation lock.— Matt Rosoff
6 : a heavy strand of hair used in addition to a person's own hair for some coiffures


switched; switching; switches

Definition of switch (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to strike or beat with or as if with a switch
2 : whisk, lash a cat switching its tail
3a(1) : to turn from one railroad track to another : shunt
(2) : to move (cars) to different positions on the same track within terminal areas
b : to make a shift in or exchange of switch seats
4a : to shift to another electrical circuit by means of a switch
b(1) : to operate an electrical switch so as to turn (a device) on or off usually used with on or off
(2) : to change to or from an active state usually used with on or off switched on the gene

intransitive verb

1 : to lash from side to side
2 : to make a shift or exchange

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Other Words from switch


switchable \ ˈswi-​chə-​bəl How to pronounce switch (audio) \ adjective
switcher noun

Synonyms for switch

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of switch in a Sentence

Noun She flicked a switch and turned the lamp on. He threw the switch to stop the machine. Verb I switched to a new doctor. He kept switching back and forth between topics. She switched back to her original insurance company. We switched over to a different telephone service. Why did you switch jobs?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Gas stations typically make the switch to summer blend on or near June 1. Motormouth Bob Weber, Star Tribune, "Motormouth: Don't postpone the switch to summer gas," 30 Apr. 2021 The potential upside of acquiring such an enhanced strategic capability will motivate organizations to make the switch. Ganes Kesari, Forbes, "Collective Intelligence Is About To Disrupt Your Strategy: Are You Ready?," 28 Apr. 2021 Last year, Washington became the 12th state to adopt a zero-emission vehicle program and incentives to make the switch to an EV already exist at the state level, for new and used models. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, "Washington State Plans to Ban Sales of Gasoline Cars after 2030," 17 Apr. 2021 While some critics say Bitcoin will eventually need to make the switch, there are no plans to do so, and the idea is broadly unpopular within the Bitcoin community. New York Times, "Corrections: April 16, 2021," 15 Apr. 2021 Ballard thinks Smith could make the switch to the other side of the offensive line but moving him would create a hole at right tackle. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Will Braden Smith be the Indianapolis Colts’ answer at left tackle?," 13 Apr. 2021 Plus, as more people make the switch to sustainable living, more companies work harder to following sustainable practices during manufacturing and more policy makers advocate for improved environmental practices. Laurie Jennings, Good Housekeeping, "A Foolproof Guide to Sustainable Living," 5 Apr. 2021 But his sports agent father, Marc, thinks his best route to the majors would be as a switch-hitting, strong-armed catcher. Rob Charry, sun-sentinel.com, "Shabbat-observant baseball phenom has his eyes on a Major League career," 23 Apr. 2021 Traditionally, the switch-hitting Goodrum struggles to make contact against righties, but hits for more power against them. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers' Spencer Turnbull turns it up in return for 5-2 win in Game 2 vs. Pirates," 22 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb When other bassists would sit in on one of those jam sessions, Gitlin would switch to guitar. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, "'He embodied love and light.' How Pete Gitlin let his light shine on the local jazz scene," 7 May 2021 If that decline continues, then vaccinations may switch to settings that are better suited to administer vaccines to one or two patients a day. David Hogberg, Washington Examiner, "Vaccine rollout to get more difficult as it shifts to doctor's offices," 2 May 2021 When most of the dark areas and cuts are gone, switch to 120-grit sandpaper, and finish the job. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The Ultimate Guide to Building (and Restoring) a Butcher Block," 1 May 2021 Without the requirement of collective bargaining, the union and city could switch to a meet-and-confer method. Emilie Eaton, San Antonio Express-News, "Proposition B losing by a narrow margin after early, absentee votes counted in San Antonio," 1 May 2021 Emmanuel Sanders, who has previously worn No. 10, 17 and 88, will switch to No. 1 for his first season with the Buffalo Bills. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Bills' Emmanuel Sanders takes advantage of new rule, becomes first NFL WR with single-digit number," 29 Apr. 2021 Those sites will later switch to Moderna or Pfizer shots, since the city only has a small supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Washington Post, "Easing of outdoor mask mandate has some localities grappling with what the rules should be," 29 Apr. 2021 People might switch their careers, rethink their friend groups, and cement — or get out of — their romantic relationships. Mirel Zaman, refinery29.com, "Are Saturn Returns Real?," 27 Apr. 2021 Biden is contemplating the sort of bait-and-switch that rarely goes over well. Rich Lowry, National Review, "Joe Biden’s Radical Gambit," 27 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word '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 switch


1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1611, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for switch


perhaps from Middle Dutch swijch twig

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Statistics for switch

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Switch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/switch. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for switch



English Language Learners Definition of switch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small device that starts or stops the flow of electricity to something (such as a lamp or a machine) when it is pressed or moved up and down
: a sudden change from one thing to another
US : a device for moving the rails of a track so that a train may be turned from one track to another



English Language Learners Definition of switch (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a change from one thing to another : to start doing or using something that is different
: to make a change from one thing to another by turning or pushing a button or moving a switch, lever, etc.
: to change or replace (something) with another thing


\ ˈswich How to pronounce switch (audio) \

Kids Definition of switch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device for making, breaking, or changing the connections in an electrical circuit
2 : a change from one thing to another a switch in plans
3 : a narrow flexible whip, rod, or twig
4 : an act of switching
5 : a device for adjusting the rails of a track so that a train or streetcar may be turned from one track to another


switched; switching

Kids Definition of switch (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to turn, shift, or change by operating a device that makes, breaks, or changes the connections in an electrical circuit Remember to switch off the light.
2 : to move quickly from side to side The cow was switching its tail.
3 : to make a shift or change He switched to a new barber.
4 : to strike with or as if with a whip, rod, or twig

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