\ 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 offswitched 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 switchable (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 According to the lawsuits, Verizon is using Huawei’s technology without a license in several applications, including in its routers and switches and in enterprise services. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "Huawei Sues Verizon in U.S. Over Patents," 6 Feb. 2020 Alana Zeitchik, who worked in product strategy for a year, also made the switch. Kerry Flynn, CNN, "BuzzFeed News is ready for life without Ben Smith," 6 Feb. 2020 Both counties made the switch in 2019 in an effort to prepare for the 2020 election, in which turnout is expected to be at record levels. 2. Jamie Hancock, Dallas News, "Castro endorses Warren, 5 things to watch in 2020, McKinney’s rockin’ mayor," 7 Jan. 2020 Phillips said Thursday that the recent decision of Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley to take the coaching reins at Boston College played a role in his switch to Utah. Dan Albano, Orange County Register, "La Habra’s Clark Phillips III pulls a recruiting surprise, signs with Utah instead of Ohio State," 19 Dec. 2019 How soon should the Broncos make the switch at quarterback? Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post, "Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray could climb several of Nuggets’ franchise career lists," 22 Oct. 2019 Are current sedan or hatchback fans ready to make the switch? San Diego Union-Tribune, "Edmunds offers a peek at 2020’s most notable vehicles," 9 Oct. 2019 That was until President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to make a switch during the Great Depression. Sophia Caraballo, Woman's Day, "When Is Thanksgiving 2019?," 7 Oct. 2019 Some, like Deliv in California, recently made the switch. Alison Griswold, Quartz, "What happens when delivery startups use employees instead of contractors," 19 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This 3-point-splashing, screen-switching, speedy group went to Los Angeles and stunned the Lakers on Thursday night, leading the NBA world to wonder if this approach just might work. Adam Himmelsbach, BostonGlobe.com, "Celtics begin tough stretch against Western Conference opponents," 8 Feb. 2020 Then there’s Washington Jr., the combo guard who can switch between point and shooting guard depending on what’s needed. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Duane Washington Jr. and his rigorous education in being Ohio State basketball’s second point guard," 8 Feb. 2020 There’s her precocious young son, who has just switched elementary schools to one that does not allow parents to walk their children into the building. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "Jenny Offill's Weather Is a Doomsday Novel We All Can Relate to," 6 Feb. 2020 But New Hampshire is chock-full of voters who have switched allegiances, often multiple times. Noah Millman, TheWeek, "Elizabeth Warren's last chance," 6 Feb. 2020 Jeff Van Drew: Meet Jeff Van Drew, the party-switching lawmaker who will join Trump at his New Jersey rally The drawer was so popular that more chocolate was needed – a lot more. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Sleeping senators, snacks, shaking heads: What you can't see on TV at Trump's impeachment trial," 28 Jan. 2020 This group includes CEOs who have switched out of their roles in the past year, including SAP’s Bill McDermott, EY’s Mark Weinberger, and IDEO’s Tim Brown. David Yanofsky, Quartz, "Who’s in Davos? A brief summary in tables and maps," 20 Jan. 2020 Kim, who switched to a vegan diet this summer, even shares that trees are currently being planted on the property so the family can grow their own fresh vegetables. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "Kim Kardashian Has a Walk-In Fridge, Separate Drink Fridges, and a Frozen Yogurt Machine," 9 Jan. 2020 Three days later, Castro lost one of his three backers in Congress, Rep. Vicente González of Texas, who switched his endorsement to Biden. Paul J. Weber, Fortune, "‘It Simply Isn’t Our Time.’ Democrat Julián Castro Drops Out of 2020 Presidential Race," 2 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for switch

Time Traveler

The first known use of switch was in 1597

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Statistics for switch

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Switch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/switched. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for switch


How to pronounce switch (audio)

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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Comments on switch

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