\ 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 This switch from carbon sink to carbon source will feed a positive feedback loop, with peatlands releasing carbon that makes Earth’s climate warmer, which makes peatlands release more carbon, and so on. Julie Loisel, The Conversation, "Peatlands keep a lot of carbon out of Earth’s atmosphere, but that could end with warming and development," 7 Dec. 2020 This switch, Conner said, is a rule: Unlike him, his son is the low-profile type. NBC News, "George Floyd's killing turned them into activists. What are they doing now?," 25 Nov. 2020 By making this switch, Pompeo is essentially conferring U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over large tracts of land that could theoretically constitute a Palestinian state. Washington Post, "Trump and Pompeo embrace Israel’s one-state reality," 20 Nov. 2020 Credo Beauty: Looking to make the switch to clean beauty? Kara Cuzzone, Forbes, "The 22 Best St. Patrick’s Day Sales And Deals To Shop This Week," 18 Mar. 2021 The state’s decision to reduce social distancing from six feet to three combined with fewer students in the buildings helped make the switch to a full-time, in-person schedule possible, Sanders said. Karie Angell Luc, chicagotribune.com, "Elgin’s U-46 ready to bring all hybrid students back to school on a full-time basis starting April 7," 16 Mar. 2021 The regulations required small refrigerators and freezers to be HFC-free by Jan. 1, 2021, and will require full-size refrigerators and freezers to make the switch by the beginning of 2022. Phil Mckenna, The Courier-Journal, "I tried to buy a climate-friendly refrigerator from GE. What I got was a carbon bomb," 15 Mar. 2021 Why might someone make the switch to a vegan routine? Angela Trakoshis, Allure, "The 13 Best Vegan Beauty Brands to Try Right Now," 11 Mar. 2021 Those who want to select the cheaper PowerOn service will be able to make the switch for free by contacting SDCP. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Here comes San Diego Community Power: Five-city community choice energy program launches," 1 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb People who already have insurance through an exchange can either apply the new subsidies to their existing plan to lower their monthly payments or can switch plans. Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY, "Obamacare enrollment period extended beyond May as new insurance subsidies kick in," 23 Mar. 2021 The team switch also forced McCord to adapt in other areas as well. cleveland, "Ohio State’s Kyle McCord left his comfort zone early, and it might help him be the Buckeyes’ next QB," 18 Mar. 2021 The whole mess also contextualizes a flashpoint the following month — when White House staffers attempted to humiliate Collins by having her switch spots with a reporter in the back of the briefing room. Washington Post, "Opinion: Report: Trump tried to get his press secretary to boot Kaitlan Collins from briefing room," 17 Mar. 2021 The evolution of Davidson switch-hitting is easy to trace. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, "A's shortstop Logan Davidson: like father like son, with one switch," 15 Mar. 2021 For Superset 2, complete each exercise for 30 seconds (switch sides halfway through for the arm circles). Christa Sgobba, SELF, "This HIIT Workout for Beginners Is Simple Yet Effective," 13 Mar. 2021 Smaller markets and clearer guidance from regulators prompted more investors to make the switch and resulted in higher trading activity in markets linked to the new benchmarks, analysts said. Anna Hirtenstein, WSJ, "Companies Still Working on Libor Changeover," 12 Mar. 2021 School districts also will be required to inform the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services of their decisions to switch plans. Jason Schaumburg, Washington Examiner, "Cooper signs bill reopening North Carolina schools," 12 Mar. 2021 Left-handed-hitting Jason Heyward and Joc Pederson, manning the corners next to switch-hitter Ian Happ in center field, can create a more balanced lineup against a right-handed pitcher. Meghan Montemurro, chicagotribune.com, "3 takeaways from Chicago Cubs spring training Thursday, including Trevor Williams’ lab work and Nico Hoerner’s hot start," 5 Mar. 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

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Switch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/switch. Accessed 11 Apr. 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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Comments on switch

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