\ 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 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 An outdoor smart plug with two outlets and a fan-speed smart switch are also coming. Gear Team, Wired, "CES 2021 Highlights: 79 Gadgets and Glimpses Into the Future," 14 Jan. 2021 With Mayfield flipping the switch the second half of the season, Sunday promises to be a thrilling quarterback duel. cleveland, "Baker Mayfield on Patrick Mahomes: ‘He’s gotten me so far in the league, so I have to see what I can do’," 13 Jan. 2021 Made a late switch from the press box after the national championship game and moved Aggies up. Matt Young, Chron, "How Texas Tech briefly had a Top 5 vote in final football poll," 12 Jan. 2021 By 2035, Minnesota Power intends to transition the 468-megawatt Boswell Unit 4 off coal, which could mean a switch to natural gas, biomass or other sources as advances in technology allow. Brooks Johnson, Star Tribune, "Minnesota Power shutting, converting final two coal plants by 2035," 12 Jan. 2021 The photos flip a switch in the brain that allows readers to imagine their own neighborhood covered in snow, if only for a day. Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, "Snow day in the Bay Area 1976: The view from above," 7 Jan. 2021 Often accompanied by an inability to taste, anosmia occurs abruptly and dramatically in these patients, almost as if a switch had been flipped. New York Times, "Some Covid Survivors Haunted by Loss of Smell and Taste," 2 Jan. 2021 Perhaps playing in Texas on New Year’s Day, a late switch from the traditional Rose Bowl venue in Pasadena, Calif., will wake up the echoes of Notre Dame’s storied past. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Notre Dame has won a long list of legendary bowl games in Texas, but a Rose Bowl win over Alabama might top them all," 1 Jan. 2021 No matter the circumstances, Belichick has publicly shown no interest in discussing a switch. Nicole Yang, BostonGlobe.com, "Bill Belichick implies Cam Newton will start against Jets in final game of season," 30 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb While New York unsuccessfully tried to switch up its coverages throughout the game, Lamb spent most of his time against slot cornerback Darnay Holmes, who has allowed 80% of the targets sent his way to be caught. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 mismatches the Cowboys need to exploit vs. Giants, including NY’s pass protection conundrum," 1 Jan. 2021 But after four years of Steve, Fox has decided to switch things up. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "The Real Reason Steve Harvey Isn’t Hosting Fox's New Year’s Eve Special This Year," 1 Jan. 2021 Having recently wowed onlookers in skintight latex leggings by Saint Laurent, and vegan leather pants from Mother, the model decided to switch things up by wearing hot pink hot pants in the middle of winter. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Hailey Bieber's Hot Pink Hot Pants Steal the Show on Kendall Jenner's Instagram," 24 Dec. 2020 That requires Miami to consistently switch up its defensive calls, which is the exact approach the Dolphins used effectively to disrupt the Rams offense earlier this season. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "As Tua prepares for Chiefs, here’s how he stacks up with some of the NFL’s best after five career starts," 12 Dec. 2020 After a busy, if brief, offseason that saw superstars switch teams, MVPs commit long-term to champions and the Portland Trail Blazers build a formidable roster, training camps are being impacted, if not shut down, by COVID-19 test results. oregonlive, "Trail Blazers camp questions, COVID-19 closures, preseason power rankings, marijuana testing freeze, rest: NBA news and notes," 7 Dec. 2020 Los Angeles and 10 other counties in Southern California could be forced to switch things up as soon as Friday. Erika D. Smith Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: California politicians can’t explain their COVID-19 rules. There’s a reason for that," 4 Dec. 2020 LaBowe plans to switch up the embroidery every few months, so each pair is a limited edition, in a way. Sarah Spellings, Vogue, "This Model Made the Perfect Undies," 3 Dec. 2020 Judge will now switch things up and Giants will not have any on-field work. USA TODAY, "NFL COVID-19 updates: Unidentified Giants player tests positive, coach changes bye week plans," 17 Nov. 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

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Switch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/switch. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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