Meaning of “switch” in the English Dictionary

"switch" in British English

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uk /swɪtʃ/ us /swɪtʃ/

switch noun (DEVICE)

B1 [ C ] a small device, usually pushed up or down with your finger, that controls and turns on or off an electric current:

a light switch
Can you flip the switch?
switches [ plural ] US mainly UK points

a place on a railway track where the rails (= metal bars on which the trains travel) can be moved to allow a train to change from one track to another:

The train rattled as it went over the switches.

More examples

  • You turn the television on by flipping the switch at the side.
  • Mysteriously, the light came on, although no one was near the switch.
  • An additional power switch for the radio is handily located next to the steering wheel.
  • She flicked the on-off switch.
  • All these machines operate at the flick of a switch.

switchverb [ T, I usually + adv/prep ]

uk /swɪtʃ/ us /swɪtʃ/

switch verb [ T, I usually + adv/prep ] (DEVICE)

B1 to use a switch to change a device from one state or type of operation to another:

switch the TV off/on

More examples

  • Are you positive that you saw me switch the iron off?
  • By toggling this key, you can switch the italics on and off.
  • Could you switch on the radio?
  • She switched to another channel to watch the football.
  • The computer takes a few seconds to power up after it's been switched on.

switch verb [ T, I usually + adv/prep ] (CHANGE)

B2 to change suddenly or completely, especially from one thing to another, or to exchange by replacing one person or thing with another:

She started studying English, but switched to Law in her second year.
In 1971, Britain switched over (= changed completely) to a decimal currency.
After the bank robbery, the gang switched cars (= left one car and got into another).

More examples

  • The robbers switched the painting for a fake.
  • We used to have oil-fired central heating, but now we've switched to gas.
  • Many European countries have now switched over to the Euro.
  • He's decided to switch the meeting from Monday to Thursday.
  • Will you switch shifts with me on Friday?

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “switch” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"switch" in American English

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switchnoun [ C ]

us /swɪtʃ/

switch noun [ C ] (DEVICE)

a device that controls an electric current and turns it on or off:

Flip a switch and the coffee makes itself.

switch noun [ C ] (STICK)

a thin stick that bends easily and is used esp. for hitting animals

switch noun [ C ] (CHANGE)

a sudden or complete change from one thing to another, or an exchange of one person or thing for another:

The team made a switch to a smaller, quicker lineup.

switchverb [ I/T ]

us /swɪtʃ/

switch verb [ I/T ] (CHANGE)

to change suddenly or completely from one thing to another, or to exchange one person or thing with another:

[ T ] Jeff decided to switch his major from engineering to medicine.
[ I ] I used to have tapes, but I switched to CDs.

(Definition of “switch” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"switch" in Business English

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uk /swɪtʃ/ us

a complete change of one thing for another:

a switch from/to sth The switch to a flat rate of tax could boost spending.
Banks are encouraging customers to make the switch from paper to electronic statements.

COMMUNICATIONS, IT a piece of equipment in a network that receives electronic data and sends it to the right place

a small part or object that you move or press to make a light come on, make a machine start working, etc.:

press/flick the switch

See also


uk /swɪtʃ/ us

[ I or T ] to change from one thing, system, etc. to another, or make something do this:

switch to sth Internet users should consider switching to a web-based bank.
switch from sth to sth The charity has switched from TV advertising to direct mail.
switch provider(s)/supplier(s) You could save money by switching energy suppliers.
The report found that only about 6% of current account customers switch banks each year.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “switch” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)