asleep at the switch


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal.
Related to asleep at the switch: out of whack, Sleep On It, sleeping at the switch

*asleep at the switch

Fig. not attending to one's job; failing to do one's duty at the proper time. (Alludes to a technician or engineer on a train sleeping instead of turning whatever switches are required. *Typically: be ~; fall ~.) The security guard fell asleep at the switch and a robber broke in. If I hadn't been asleep at the switch, I'd have noticed the car being stolen.
See also: asleep, switch

asleep at the switch

not paying attention asleep at the wheel Health experts were asleep at the switch when the disease began to spread rapidly again.
Etymology: based on the idea of someone going to sleep while they are responsible for operating the switch (device) that allows a train to move from one track to another
See also: asleep, switch

asleep at the switch

Also, asleep at the wheel. Inattentive, not doing one's job, as in At the critical moment the watchman was asleep at the switch and only called the fire department when it was too late . This term came from 19th-century American railroading, when it was the trainman's duty to switch cars from one track to another by means of manually operated levers. Should he fail to do so, trains could collide. It was later transferred to any lack of alertness. The wheel in the variant is a steering wheel; similarly disastrous results are implied.
See also: asleep, switch

asleep at the switch

mod. inattentive to duty. (Not literal.) Donald was asleep at the switch when the call came in.
See also: asleep, switch
References in periodicals archive ?
Two in a row and it begins to seem like someone's asleep at the switch.
Fortunately, Eugene theater companies are not asleep at the switch, and we spring-feverish stuck-in-towns have five good shows to choose from.
The worst are asleep at the switch, ineffective, and weak.
In a New York Times article, a former dean of the Yale School of Management noted that "the administration was asleep at the switch.
Schumer now argues that OTS was asleep at the switch, and that blaming him is like blaming 'the fire on the guy who called 911.
Greig Smith is asleep at the switch on the Sunshine Canyon Landfill.
Controversy Rages: Were Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) Loan Borrowers Asleep at the Switch or as Astute as Any Chief Financial Officer?
If Marvel and DC Comics aren't feeling the chill wind down the back of their neck, they're asleep at the switch.
We have an example here of government being asleep at the switch.
The courts, the government and shareholders are beginning to play hardball against board members who were asleep at the switch as their companies were committing massive accounting fraud.
This mayor has been asleep at the switch,'' Hertzberg said.
We have a mayor who has been asleep at the switch,'' Hertzberg said during a radio appearance on ``McIntyre in the Morning'' on KABC-AM (790).
Our nation is asleep at the switch when it comes to being able to handle a public health crisis caused by infectious disease, whether from nature or bioterrorism," said Poste.
There were a variety of concerns that could have been addressed at the time if someone had not been asleep at the switch,'' Greuel said.