\ 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

And the problem is only increasing—with the switch to cheaper, more energy efficient LED lights—by more than 2 percent each year. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "These fish eggs aren't hatching. The culprit? Light pollution.," 9 July 2019 There’s a problem with a switch at the Greenbelt stop, and that is causing delays on the Yellow and Green lines. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "Riders complain of major delays on Metro’s Red Line this morning," 8 July 2019 The Spanish publication also states that Barcelona did have a €75m offer accepted by Ajax, leaving the door open to a switch to Camp Nou being resurrected. SI.com, "Report: De Ligt's Transfer to Juventus Stalls Over Fee; Hope for Barcelona?," 5 July 2019 While most apps haven’t made the switch yet, the feature is built into the iOS 13 public beta. Xavier Harding, Fortune, "5 Ways Apple's iOS 13 Public Beta Can Improve Your iPhone Privacy Right Now," 25 June 2019 One cool customization is to mount as-bright-as-possible fog lights out front, rigged with a set-aside interior switch. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Tips for customizing your favorite outdoor gear," 5 June 2019 Madi Meduna, senior shortstop, Park: Meduna made the switch from outfield to shortstop this season and hit .492. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "Pioneer Press East Metro Softball Player of the Year: Stillwater’s Torri Chute," 5 June 2019 The candidates also pushed to make a switch in how student loans were disbursed. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "The Decade That Changed the Student-Debt Debate," 5 June 2019 Vaughn used an aluminum bat in college but a wooden bat in the Cape Cod League, and the Sox say his power still translates with the switch. Phil Thompson, chicagotribune.com, "6 things to know about White Sox top draft pick Andrew Vaughn, including his love of fishing and his baseball idols," 4 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The potential for flooding and tornadoes has switched around some local calendars. Lily Jackson | Ljackson@al.com, al.com, "Barry postpones MOB Music Fest and more," 11 July 2019 Market psychology has historically switched when earnings decline, according to Francois Trahan, strategist at UBS, who pointed to the market's movements in 2001 and 2008. CBS News, "The corporate profits gravy train is derailing," 11 July 2019 Try different colored mascara on each eye, or switch up the colors for the top and bottom lashes. Tatum Dooley, Teen Vogue, "Here's How to Get Rainbow Colored Lashes This Summer," 9 July 2019 Others imagine evidence in support of the simulation hypothesis could engender a new fear — that the creators might grow tired of the simulation and switch it off. Dan Falk, NBC News, "Are we living in a simulated universe? Here's what scientists say.," 6 July 2019 Look for rarities from local and national breweries, and expect the beers to switch up regularly. Washington Post, "17 things to do in the D.C. area this week," 1 July 2019 This year, Amazon decided to switch things up a bit for Prime Day. Courtney Campbell, Reviewed, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon Prime Day deals you can get right now," 28 June 2019 Lately though, Middleton has been switching things up. Rachel Lubitz, refinery29.com, "Kate Middleton's Braided Chignon Is Fit For A Summer Bride," 20 June 2019 Getty Images Getty Images Though Rihanna has never been one to shy away from switching up her look (the classic Umbrella asymmetrical black bob! Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Rihanna Switched Up Her Look With Fire-Red Box Braids Just In Time For Summer," 19 June 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

15 Jul 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

Comments on switch

What made you want to look up switch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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