\ 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

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? See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Health care providers encourage parents to consult pediatricians before making the switch. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 18 May 2022 The National League posted a higher batting average than the American every year from 1964 through 1972, but the AL’s 1973 adoption of the DH flipped the switch. WSJ, 11 May 2022 Then, flip the switch and steam the area, using dry or wet steam. Carolyn Forté, Good Housekeeping, 3 May 2022 The boy has taken to playing war with his Nerf gun, attempting precision shots at his grandfather’s to flip the switch on an electric kettle from across the room. Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2022 This subtle switch makes the most of your time and counter space. Washington Post, 6 May 2022 So did his initial position switch, which freed Ward from the physical rigors of catching and the stress of game-planning and calling pitches. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, 5 May 2022 If not for that switch, Chief Justice Roberts would have been one of eight associate justices and, in all probability, a reliable conservative member of the court. Adam Liptak, New York Times, 4 May 2022 After an all virtual festival in 2021 and an 11th-hour switch to online again in 2022, Sundance is planning a hybrid film festival for its 2023 iteration. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Kids can switch the heads, bodies and bottoms of the five monsters in this set — 28 wooden pieces in all — to come up with their own creepy creatures (while secretly working on their fine motor coordination). Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 17 May 2022 Uber is also adding more features to its platform to offer incentives for drivers to switch to electric vehicles, including an EV cost calculator and a map showing where EV chargers are located. Rob Wile, NBC News, 16 May 2022 Other Lightning port products (e.g., AirPods, Magic Keyboard/Trackpad/Mouse, MagSafe Battery) would also switch to USB-C in the foreseeable future. Chris Smith, BGR, 16 May 2022 To switch back and forth between kindred languages requires a lively knowledge of the differences between them. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 That’s a far cry from the 2020 GOP gubernatorial primary, which saw about 100,000 voters switch affiliation to the GOP between January and June. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Apr. 2022 Typically, an airline is reluctant to switch between aircraft manufacturers because such a pivotal change increases the cost of pilot training and makes spare parts more costly. Chris Isidore, CNN, 27 Mar. 2022 Under the Senate proposal, states would have to choose between sticking to standard time or daylight-saving time all year round, and couldn’t switch between them. Natalie Andrews, WSJ, 15 Mar. 2022 Be sure to click or tap around within our charts below, to switch between games, or filter by settings, too. Matthew Buzzi, PCMAG, 4 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near switch

Swiss tea


switch angle

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Statistics for switch

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Switch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/switch. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for switch


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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