Definition of switchback in US English:

switchback

noun

  • 1North American A 180° bend in a road or path, especially one leading up the side of a mountain.

    • ‘After crossing the gritty plain where the outriding developments of greater Los Angeles creep inexorably outward, the road climbed steeply, all curves and switchbacks.’
    • ‘A stair is designed to appear carved out of the building like a switchback mountain path.’
    • ‘In the morning we had to ride right back up the road to all those switchbacks.’
    • ‘At one point, we zipped through 22 hairpin bends of tightly curled switchbacks and descended more than 10,000 ft.’
    • ‘Driving up the side of Vesuvius, through the switchback bends, the houses thinned and gave way to pine forest; then the pine forest thinned and gave way to scrub.’
    • ‘The front end typically feels like a chopper when you're climbing, making it next to impossible to negotiate hairpin switchbacks.’
    • ‘As it was an easy 40-mile ride away we were able to take our time and enjoy the first full day's riding along the exhilarating switchback coastal roads.’
    • ‘The trick with this route is to park a car at the your end-point on the road (usually the second switchback down the east-slope side of the pass).’
    • ‘I find it, and soon I'm climbing up switchbacks on the north side of the canyon.’
    • ‘This is a 1.5-mile road of switchback bends on a 7% gradient.’
    • ‘From the fast steep rock strewn chutes of the top section, the tight switchbacks above the road crossing to the mud rocks and roots of the bottom section, there is no let up.’
    • ‘The course then ended up in a series of traverses across the mountainside and switchbacks, bringing it to the finish.’
    • ‘Wheels clattered and slipped as the procession made its way up the switchback road to the Citadel.’
    • ‘This old fire road has nice switchbacks along three miles of excellent dirt road, and it's all one-way so riders don't have to worry about traffic.’
    • ‘While a helmet light will shine where you're looking, the beam won't bend around tight switchbacks and sharp turns.’
    • ‘I am amazed at how he can maneuver it through tight ancient towns or down the switchbacks of a mountain.’
    • ‘It's much closer to the sort of European style of roads, with the switchbacks and the corners and all that.’
    • ‘When I was descending down from the main climb I was certain that I had somehow missed the finish but I finally saw part of the caravan about 10 switchbacks up the road.’
    • ‘The road is a bunch of switchbacks now, which tells you it's near the top of a climb.’
    • ‘Stay on the uphill side of the trail as you approach the switchback.’
  • 2British A road, path, or railroad with alternate sharp ascents and descents.

    • ‘Down the middle of the peninsula runs the Trotternish Ridge - a long switchback that reaches almost end-to-end like a crooked spine.’
    • ‘We follow the distant progress of our horses as they make their way up the steep switchbacks to the pass.’
    • ‘‘I've got a good chance and the course is great; it's steep and technical with a lot of tight switchback corners’ he said.’
    • ‘With the rear end of the bike being so light the F1 is a must on UK courses making easy work of tight switchbacks.’
    • ‘They're more like a journey on a switchback that suddenly becomes a mass parade and then a plunge in icy water.’
    • ‘Turkish roads are poor at the best of times, but the clifftop switchback that took us to our hideaway destination would have given Colin McRae pause for thought.’
    • ‘Several hours' worth of calf-busting switchbacks brought us to the beachside campsite at Huishnish, on the far western extremity of Harris.’
    • ‘There were sweaty-palmed moments when I wondered if we'd make it up the steep series of switchbacks, but the views of Lake Wakatipu, snug beneath the snow-dusted Remarkables, lured us onwards and upwards.’
    • ‘The detours, however, involve switchback trails and big hills.’
    • ‘After more than six hours of perilous switchbacks and countless near-misses with overburdened Indian Tata trucks we've arrived at the trekking gateway of Pokhara, a thriving and laidback city on the shores of Phewa Lake.’
    • ‘The road up to Courchevel is a classic series of tight alpine switchbacks, though the patches of pine forest which will at least provide a modicum of shade.’
    • ‘I made it down to the road crossing quicker than normal, even managing a pedal stroke or two through the switchbacks.’
    • ‘The effort of climbing the long, arduous switchbacks to the Keansani Pass was eased by the glorious view back down the valley every time we paused for breath (which was often).’
    • ‘On a merciless switchback climb up to the village of Chatuk we meet five British trekkers.’
    • ‘On the first time up the switchbacks, Greenwood attacked with only two other riders able to follow.’
    • ‘A series of terrifying sandy switchbacks zigzag thousands of feet below us, for miles.’
    1. 2.1 A roller coaster.
      • ‘Resembling an unwound helter-skelter the Switchback reached a dizzying top speed of 6 miles per hour.’

verb

[no object]US
  • (of a road or vehicle) make a series of switchback turns.

    ‘a road that switchbacked up blue and distant hills’
    • ‘The trail starts gently enough, easing up through the hardwood forest and switchbacking over the swollen Cutler River, but it gets steeper as it ascends.’
    • ‘This is another stalkers' path that eases the gradient by switchbacking its way uphill all the way to the summit.’
    • ‘Beginning at U.S.2 at the Walton ranger station, this out-and-back trail follows a frozen-over streambed, crossing a swinging bridge before switchbacking up a hill to a clearing where elk often winter.’
    • ‘On steeper ground now, the footpath begins to switchback, weaving its way between rocky outcrops to reach the first, and the highest, of Ben Venue's two summits.’
    • ‘Above the tree line the roads end in cul-de-sacs, and from then on it's nothing but fire trails that switchback through scrub and grass and rock.’
    • ‘Near the top, our companions climbed into their support truck while Brad and I shifted to our little rings and made grunting comments on how incredibly steep the road had become as it switchbacked across the rocky hillsides.’

Pronunciation

switchback

/ˈswɪtʃˌbæk//ˈswiCHˌbak/