General English


  • verb to change, especially to change investment money from one type of investment to another


  • noun a device to open or break an electric current
  • verb to connect or disconnect two lines by activating a switch


  • noun an additional character entered on the same line as the program command, which affects how the program runs
  • noun a point in a computer program where control can be passed to one of a number of choices
  • noun a mechanical or solid state device that can electrically connect or isolate two or more lines


  • A device used to open, close, or change the connection of an electric circuit.


  • A device which serves for opening, closing, or changing connections in electric circuits. A switch may be manual or automatic. There are various types, including mechanical, such as circuit-breakers, and semiconductor, such as transistors. Also called electric switch. Its abbreviation is SW.
  • A device that activates or turns on, deactivates or turns off, or changes between given levels or modes of operation. Such a switch may be mechanical, electrical, magnetic, optical, acoustic, gravitational, and so on. Examples include rotary, paddle, light-activated, Hall effect, inertia, lever, magnetic reed, mercury, button, centrifugal, and diode switches, among many others. Its abbreviation is SW.
  • To change from one state, connection, mode of operation, or the like, to another, using a switch (1) or switch (2).
  • A device in a communications network that selects a path or circuit via which data will flow to its next destination. A switch usually involves a simpler and faster mechanism than a router, but may also have router functions. Also called network switch.
  • To change from one possibility, alternative, setting, or the like, to another. For example, to switch from landscape to portrait mode.
  • In programming, a choice of a jump or process from multiple available jumps or processes. Also, a bit or byte which represents, keeps track of, or modifies such a choice.


  • adjective used for describing a stance in which the foot that the rider usually puts nearer the front is nearer the back


  • noun an apparatus for starting or stopping an electric current

Cars & Driving

  • acronymSW
  • to be found on the coil terminal connected to the ignition switch.

Origin & History of “switch”

Switch originally denoted a ‘thin flexible twig’; it may have been borrowed from Middle Dutch swijch ‘bough, twig’. From the noun was derived the verb switch. This originally meant ‘beat with a switch’, but in the early 19th century the sense ‘bend or waggle to and fro like a flexible stick’ emerged, and this led on in the middle of the century via ‘divert’ to ‘turn off a train on to another track’ (the usage developed in American English, where the apparatus used for this is still known as a switch, as opposed to British English points). By the end of the century this had broadened out to ‘connect or disconnect by pushing a contact to or fro’. The notion of ‘exchanging’ or ‘swopping’ did not emerge until as recently as the 1890s.