\ 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 switchable (audio) \ adjective
switcher noun

Synonyms for switch

Synonyms: Noun

flogger, lash, scourge, whip

Synonyms: Verb

change, commute, exchange, shift, substitute, swap, trade

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Examples of switch in a Sentence


She flicked a switch and turned the lamp on. He threw the switch to stop the machine.


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

Cassagnes made some pencil marks on a protective decal while installing a light-switch plate, and saw that the marks were visible on the other side of the decal. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "The Patents Behind Toy Story’s Beloved Characters," 14 June 2019 Ethan, a 20-year-old San Francisco Bay Area college student, used Snapchat's gender-switch filter to become Esther and posed on Tinder as a 19-year-old because Tinder does not allow juveniles to open accounts, according to NBC Bay Area. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, "Male student poses as girl to catch sexual predators, nabs police officer," 12 June 2019 Coral Springs Fire Chief Frank Babinec said 19 of 20 fire chiefs in the county also support the switch, as long as the agencies have a voice in the decisions that are made. David Fleshler, sun-sentinel.com, "Police and fire chiefs call for removing radio system from county after Parkland failure," 5 June 2019 Honda says the horn may sound randomly, switches and buttons on the steering wheel might not work, the airbag light could illuminate, or the steering-wheel airbag either might not deploy in a crash or could deploy in the driver's face while driving. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "2019 Honda CR-V Recalled for Randomly Deploying Airbags," 23 May 2019 Unfortunately, in his career as an actual legislative leader, Ryan executed a massive bait-and-switch on the question of making work pay. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Paul Ryan’s farewell address contained a blaze of nonsense about poverty," 20 Dec. 2018 And there’s a physical mute switch on the back to completely turn off the Home Hub’s ability to listen in. Nilay Patel, The Verge, "Google Home Hub hands-on: Assistant gets a screen," 9 Oct. 2018 There’s a push-button switch on your dashboard that selects between 2WD and 4WD modes. Ray Magliozzi, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Improperly towing AWD vehicle can cause many problems," 13 July 2018 His defense team also claimed that a ballistics expert could testify that a safety switch on the gun was faulty, according to the paper. Scott Berson, miamiherald, "Farmer was accused of killing a man who ran over his dog. He blames an eggplant | Miami Herald," 25 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Kate Middleton is known to keep her beauty routine on the simpler side, but that never stops her from switching up her signature hairstyle when the seasons change. Samantha Sasso, refinery29.com, "Even Kate Middleton Lightened Up Her Hair For Summer," 15 June 2019 Driving between his properties in Zambia back in 2010, Green Safaris’ founder Vincent Kouwenhoven’s eureka moment came when switching off his Land Rover to watch a pack of lions. Lee Middleton, Quartz Africa, "Luxury safaris are trying to reinvent by getting greener and curbing an “Out of Africa” culture," 14 June 2019 The internet has been switched off and hundreds have been arrested. The Economist, "A struggle for power in Sudan could lead to civil war," 14 June 2019 Sources confirmed Kelley is switching to a role with a national outlet. Andrew Lopez, nola.com, "Todd Graffagnini set to be Pelicans’ new radio voice," 13 June 2019 Police discovered that Ethan had began chatting with Davies on Tinder on Saturday, May 11, and the two switched to Kik where Davies allegedly acknowledged that Esther was 16 — like Ethan said, the San Jose Police Department revealed in a statement. Robyn Merrett, PEOPLE.com, "Male Student Uses Snapchat Gender Filter to Pose as Underage Girl, 16, Leading to Cop's Arrest," 12 June 2019 After switching over to famed Route 1, snorkel among the angelfish at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and dive to a Spanish shipwreck at Cannon Beach. The Editors, Outside Online, "The Best Road Trips in North America," 10 June 2019 With 4:42 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Warriors leading by nine points, Raptors coach Nick Nurse switched up his team’s defense. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: The Raptors paid Steph Curry the ultimate respect and it told us so much about these NBA Finals," 3 June 2019 Wire art hangers give proper recognition to mini masterpieces, which can be switched up easily—kiddos can even hang their own. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "How to Create the World's Most Insane Playroom," 24 May 2019

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

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for switch

The first known use of switch was in 1597

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on switch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with switch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for switch

Spanish Central: Translation of switch

Nglish: Translation of switch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of switch for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about switch

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showing courage and determination

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