Definition of switch in US English:

switch

noun

  • 1A device for making and breaking the connection in an electric circuit.

    ‘the guard hit a switch and the gate swung open’
    • ‘To her surprise, the power switch was on and when she moved the mouse, the screen lit up.’
    • ‘Other switches sense the electrical conductivity of the water in the bilge.’
    • ‘By adding switches to their electrical circuits, the students were able to understand how circuits can be broken to determine its on and off status.’
    • ‘A switch, preferably a foot switch, is operably connected to the reversible electric motor.’
    • ‘For example, I feel that all electric outlets and switches should have cover plates on them.’
    • ‘Solenoids are often important components of circuits and switches in their macroscopic form.’
    • ‘With practiced ease, she punched the right button in the maze of buttons, levers, switches, and dials.’
    • ‘The show includes both banal objects, such as electric switches and sockets, as well as hand-formed clay objects, cast in bronze.’
    • ‘And all controls are push buttons instead of switches and knobs.’
    • ‘Like existing car alarm systems, this too can be activated by a switch in the key bunch with the car owner and deactivated.’
    • ‘And the only reason I can fathom for putting the electric window switches on the centre console is that it's cheaper.’
    • ‘In your room, you have three electric switches.’
    • ‘So the motors in most refrigerators, for example, control electricity with a switch - you can hear it go on and off.’
    • ‘Americans flip the switches up for ON and down for OFF, the reverse of the NZ pattern.’
    • ‘The driver cannot discern the switch between electric and petrol power unless he is watching the clever on-screen graphic.’
    • ‘Apparently they take similar steps with the switches for the electric chair too.’
    • ‘One switch releases an electric motor clutch brake and the other signals power to the electric motor for up or down movement of the stabilizer.’
    • ‘Most doors will open upon walking into them, some are locked, one-way doors, or activated by a switch.’
    • ‘Setting them down, he flipped the light switch on, and turning around, he began to call out.’
    • ‘The controls work very well and only those not familiar with the car will search for the electric window switches.’
    button, handle, lever, key, control, controller, disc, dial, joystick
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Computing A program variable which activates or deactivates a certain function of a program.
      • ‘He pressed the switch to deactivate the program, then his weapons faded and he opened the door.’
      • ‘You can change these values with a command-line switch; a full list is available by typing start help.’
      • ‘If incorrectly configured, extremely complex technologies like operating systems, switches or databases are unreliable.’
      • ‘Many simple things, for example picking up an item, activating a switch or initiating a dialog, can be done with a single mouse click.’
      • ‘But in spite of these inhibitors, there is a promising development around intelligent switches.’
  • 2An act of adopting one policy or way of life, or choosing one type of item, in place of another; a change, especially a radical one.

    ‘his friends were surprised at his switch from newspaper owner to farmer’
    • ‘Like most authorities, the lion's share of the increases has been made necessary by a massive switch of the burden of taxation from national to local government.’
    • ‘The labour market has also become more flexible with an increasing shift to part-time workers, marking a switch away from the ‘job for life’ culture.’
    • ‘With further such switches scheduled, an increased number of powerful medications are likely to become available over the counter.’
    • ‘Bishop said she is really surprised by that implication and has difficulty comprehending the sudden switch.’
    • ‘Half time changes and a few switches brought some improvement and Wicklow held their own well in the second half.’
    • ‘The newspaper said on Friday that the switch would take place on October 16.’
    • ‘The current red home strip, worn by the team for the last two years, had been due for a change even without the switch of manufacturer.’
    • ‘There are dozens of scene switches, a multitude of props, yards of costume changes.’
    • ‘Mr Morrissey said oil companies used currency fluctuations to justify price increases but that a switch to euro pricing would put an end to this and bring real benefits for road users.’
    • ‘Despite McKenzie's bullish predictions about take-up, the switch from NT to Windows 2000 is likely to be a gradual one.’
    • ‘But before you make a radical switch, remember it's best to change gradually, since you may be happier at an intermediate stage.’
    • ‘Dr Page confirmed that the switch in drugs could cause increased anxiety, and that there had been press reports about the drug increasing suicidal tendencies.’
    • ‘Such switches of allegiance are becoming increasingly common in the modern game.’
    • ‘Opinion polls show more than half of Britons are opposed to ditching the pound although an increasing number feel the switch is inevitable.’
    • ‘I am unlikely to stand as a councillor again next year as I believe the switch to a mayor-run system has changed the job from something I enjoyed to something I find a waste of time.’
    • ‘Share prices of six of them had either suffered continuous losses or posted no change since their switch.’
    • ‘So a switch to coal would increase the greenhouse gas effect of fossil fuel usage.’
    • ‘When your attention flags, a switch in tense or change of narrative pace, an amusing anecdote or a crisp scientific explanation draws you in again.’
    • ‘When that opportunity opened up, he made the switch to full-time business owner.’
    • ‘And for those in the 072 area the change will be greater as it will mean a switch to the 071 prefix as well as the additional digits.’
    change, change of direction, move, shift, transition, transformation, diversion
    exchange, swap, trade, substitution, interchange, replacement, rotation
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  • 3A slender, flexible shoot cut from a tree.

    • ‘I've been hit with slippers, with a dustpan, with a switch cut from the cherry tree in our backyard.’
    • ‘She wanted a whippy switch off a willow tree in the front yard.’
    • ‘The students are lined up in somewhat orderly rows by their class leaders while a few of the teachers oversee the process, swishing small switches recently torn from nearby eucalyptus trees.’
    branch, twig, shoot, stick, rod
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  • 4North American A junction of two railroad tracks, with a pair of linked tapering rails that can be moved laterally to allow a train to pass from one line to the other.

    • ‘The following two years, 1961 and 1962, were used to lay the more than 90 miles of track and 311 switches.’
    • ‘Investigators say someone tampered with a locked switch on October 20th so that trains would go the wrong way.’
    • ‘We were obviously on the wrong track and had to backup past a switch that would put us on the right track for heading up the Hudson line for Albany.’
    • ‘Life-expired signalling equipment and related trackwork, switches and crossings will be replaced.’
    • ‘Ten miles are being reballasted, 30 switches and crossings renewed, and the track layout at Longport, near Stoke, remodelled.’
    • ‘We very seldom go the speed limit because of signals and switches through town.’
    • ‘It is passing a recently constructed switch, which will be installed near MP 31 in Newark, CA.’
    • ‘Five track gangs maintained the 72 miles of track, including over 700 switches and repaired the high priority derailment damage.’
    • ‘I heard that there were switch problems - they could not line up a switch to allow us onto Track 1, so we would have to run on Track 2 for a bit.’
    • ‘Those improvements include adding a second ‘lane’ of track in some sections and upgrading signals and switches.’
    • ‘In later years private contractors installed the siding while the railway installed the switch.’
    • ‘It also eliminated the time-consuming need to stop and align switches to enter and leave sidings.’
    • ‘The westbound train could not leave the station either and get out of our way, as we were blocking the switches he needed to get over to track 1.’
    • ‘Had this switch been left aligned for the passing track until the switch at the opposite end of the passing track was opened, a red signal would have been displayed.’
    • ‘More complicated ones throw railway switches, open and close circuit breakers, and adjust valve flow in lots of different pipelines.’
    • ‘Up ahead, track switches on steel box beams 78 m long elastically bent and locked to allow the train to cross without a break.’
    • ‘Once our train had cleared the switches at the end of the St. Charles Air Line, we began a backward movement off the BNSF and around into Chicago Union Station.’
    • ‘The first fortnight will see closure of Slade Lane Junction to replace signalling equipment and trackwork, including switches and crossings.’
    • ‘Imagine for a moment you are standing at a railway switch.’
    • ‘We came to a stop briefly before the siding where the station platform is; no doubt a switch had to be hand-thrown.’
  • 5A tress of false or detached hair tied at one end, used in hairdressing to supplement natural hair.

    • ‘He also collected strands of their hair that had fallen out to make a switch.’
    • ‘On an impulse, Katherine reached up with her other hand and flicked her hood off of her head, revealing her long switch of hair.’
    • ‘The long, silken switch of hair was cut carefully into four or five shorter sections.’

verb

[with object]
  • 1Change the position, direction, or focus of.

    ‘the company switched the boats to other routes’
    • ‘When a submarine radar signal is detected the system is switched to direction finding mode and the received signals are characterised.’
    • ‘A brilliant historian, he switched his academic focus from French civilisation to human emotions, and has even been a novelist.’
    • ‘I switched directions and headed for the basement.’
    • ‘But after graduation she switched directions and became a businesswoman.’
    • ‘We've merely switched our focus from our parents to our spouses.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the wind switched directions and started to blow violently as the sky started to cloud.’
    • ‘The deflection diverted it and Gordon had to switch direction to get a hand to it and palm it away.’
    • ‘Montgomery then switched the focus of attack to the north.’
    • ‘In simply switching the focus of public conjecture he may have done enough to let the question slide, at least for the duration of the campaign.’
    • ‘Hitler had already made one bad mistake, when he'd switched his tactic to focus on the bombing of British cities, just at the time when he was winning the air battle over England.’
    • ‘He switched direction in the mid-80s, spotting the potential of brownfield sites for development.’
    • ‘Still with the blade in hand, the man also ran towards a group of children before he switched direction.’
    • ‘Mobile phone operators are switching their focus from customer acquisition to improvements in average revenue per user.’
    • ‘Eventually I managed to switch the conversation to them and their lives and we spent the rest of our dinner conversation spotlighting them.’
    • ‘Have you ever noticed how, when an uncomfortable topic comes up in conversation, the focus is sometimes switched to avoid the important issue that just came up?’
    • ‘Their turnaround is immediate and they lose no time in switching directions.’
    • ‘The families of 24 children have called on the ministers for education and healthcare to reverse a recent trend to switch its focus away from health services.’
    • ‘He switched his direction and headed towards her locker.’
    • ‘The American travel writer switches his focus to popular science’
    • ‘Officers switched the focus of their investigation after receiving information following a Crimewatch TV appeal.’
    • ‘He says the Opposition has switched its focus away from the amendment which he said was unworkable.’
    • ‘Now, the event has been switched to different venues, and will be played on a different surface, at a different time of the year and with an increased eligibility.’
    change, shift, convert, divert, redirect
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Adopt (something different) in place of something else; change.
      with object ‘she's managed to switch careers’
      no object ‘she worked as a librarian and then switched to journalism’
      • ‘The Government says the accounts will comprise low cost, easy access investment schemes, which allow workers who switch jobs or take career breaks save in a flexible way.’
      • ‘There is a chance for some of you to switch careers.’
      • ‘Saxophonist Stanley Turrentine often switched styles during his career, sometimes losing a few fans in the process.’
      • ‘They are cleaning up, and could make even more money if they switched to a different cash crop.’
      • ‘I was so awed by my experience that I decided to switch careers.’
      • ‘But if for any reason he wishes to switch to a different career, he certainly has what it takes in other ways.’
      • ‘The most important thing is to act as soon as possible and consider switching to a different kind of mortgage possibly a straight repayment mortgage with separate life cover.’
      • ‘Remember, if you wish to switch lenders mid-term different exit penalties may apply.’
      • ‘Some of you may switch to a different profession.’
      • ‘He said that his present machine was an Apple, but that he was planning in switching to a different brand for a new machine. I answered that yes, I was happy with the Dell.’
      • ‘The story switches location as if to match the shift in Brunetti's mood.’
      • ‘Cars seem to come from all directions, switching lanes like dodgem cars and it's not just cars but bicycles and scooters too.’
      • ‘In the late 1980s, Leakey switched careers to take over as head of Kenya's Wildlife Service, working to protect all endangered wildlife and eco-systems.’
      • ‘Regular collection is vital on hygiene grounds and Mrs Carter has vowed to switch to a different contractor once the row has been resolved.’
      • ‘Hall has applied the same theory to his career, switching paths and changing routes whenever things start to become a little too comfortable for him.’
      • ‘Trained as a librarian, he switched careers to begin work as a museum assistant at the old railway museum in Faringdon Road.’
      • ‘A lump sum is paid and they switch to a different type of mortgage.’
      • ‘A sparky couple who switched careers in their 40s, they would put a refreshing spin on those programmes about midlifers running off to breed alpacas in Peru.’
      • ‘He was a teacher and a coach at one time, but then switched careers and joined the Army.’
    2. 1.2 Substitute (two items) for each other; exchange.
      ‘after ten minutes, listener and speaker switch roles’
      • ‘It's almost as though the two actors switched roles and no one noticed.’
      • ‘‘A good manager should be able to switch roles at any time,’ he said.’
      • ‘The speakers and channels were switched between trials.’
      • ‘The next day, they are out on the street corner comparing their presents and neither is happy, so they switch gifts with each other.’
      • ‘Well, this time, we've switched the roles: Now it's the student who is the teacher, and the instructor tries the tip.’
      • ‘Okay, now switch roles and pretend you are the declarer.’
      • ‘Fox further blurs distinctions between news and opinion by having anchors and political commentators switch roles from one day to the next.’
      • ‘By switching roles it is also possible to create better empathy and more accurate recognition of danger signs in oneself and in others when the power balance is getting out of hand in real life.’
      • ‘He switches roles easily from being a stage actor to shooting ad films or coordinating the New York shooting of films from big banners in Bollywood.’
      • ‘The two of us decided this was a good time to switch roles; he would be the hoist operator, and I would be the swimmer.’
      • ‘She can switch roles as quick as a chameleon but this one was something that needed a little more than a deft flick of the wrist and a witty turn of phrase.’
      • ‘Our roles had been switched and I was now the one who took care of the helpless sister.’
      • ‘By switching the sibling roles and darkening their relationship, Chéreau found echoes of the emotional distance he feels from his own brother.’
      • ‘These actions happened very shortly after switching roles from pilot flying to pilot not flying.’
      • ‘I don't know when it started, but she and I switched roles at school and home.’
      • ‘They switched roles, and the chauffeur delivered the lecture flawlessly.’
      • ‘‘Once a year we reward the ladies for their efforts by switching roles with the men donning their aprons to provide a Ladies Lunch,’ said Gordon.’
      • ‘Either way, this week, we decided to switch roles.’
      • ‘At the end of the exercise, the groups will switch roles.’
      • ‘The two switched roles in December while the team was in the midst of its worst stretch of the season.’
      exchange, swap, interchange, trade, substitute, cause to change places, replace, rotate
      View synonyms
  • 2archaic Beat or flick with or as if with a switch.

    hit, beat, flog, whip, horsewhip, scourge, lash, flagellate, flail, strap, birch, cane, belt, leather
    View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • switch something off

    • 1Turn off an electrical device.

      • ‘Anyhow, switching off your handset for five minutes is all it takes to prevent the risk of any fire hazard, however negligible it may be.’
      • ‘Many people think their actions will make no difference but if a million of us all take the same small action such as switching off the TV stand-by there would be a huge saving.’
      • ‘Save by switching off appliances with the power button rather than the remote.’
      • ‘There's even a remarkably clear optical viewfinder to help framing if you want to conserve battery power by switching off the 1.6in colour screen.’
      • ‘There would be no question of switching off any life support machine.’
      • ‘Orders were issued for switching off air-conditioners, to stop power guzzling.’
      • ‘Figures show that even as the second tower fell, people were switching off their televisions, complaining they'd seen it all before.’
      • ‘Studiously switching off his mobile and taking the permission of the gathering, he took his seat.’
      • ‘To save fuel, some drivers have been switching off air-conditioners despite rising temperatures.’
      • ‘Islanders traditionally begin Sabbath observance late on Saturday night, switching off televisions and making sure they are home well before midnight.’
      • ‘Imagine switching off your computer and surfing the web.’
      1. 1.1informal Cease to pay attention.
        ‘as he waffles on, I switch off’
        • ‘Others try to limit the expectations of their boss or family by taking longer to reply, or switching off.’
        • ‘And switching off for a few hours is a very good thing indeed.’
        • ‘She thought it was cool to be more radical than her parents by switching off from politics, but now she feels guilty - which is why she has been on three demonstrations in the past two weeks.’
        • ‘Once again Rovers players showed how mentally fragile they are by switching off at key moments and accepting second best all too easily.’
        • ‘It is quite clear that the pro-Union electorate are switching off in droves, with each election indicating a downturn in registration and voting.’
        • ‘I've received a steady stream of emails from readers saying they're switching off, retiring to their veggie patches, disengaging.’
        • ‘That's ideal if you come here to switch off, since you enjoy attentive service without any hassle.’
        • ‘Many just switch off, saying that they'll pay attention when there is real danger.’
        • ‘Particularly I'm going to switch off or stop reading when I recognise signs of distress in myself.’
  • switch something on

    • Turn on an electrical device.

      • ‘I switched on the headlights.’
      • ‘He came into the house between 6.40 am and 6.46 am and for whatever reason, switched on the computer.’
      • ‘She stepped forward and switched on the light in the living room.’
      turn on, put on, flick on, activate, power up, start off, set going, get going, trigger off, set in motion, operate, initiate, actuate, boot up, initialize, energize
      turn off, shut off, flick off, stop working, cut, power down, stop, halt, deactivate
      View synonyms

Origin

Late 16th century (denoting a thin tapering riding whip): probably from Low German.

Pronunciation

switch

/swiCH//swɪtʃ/