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be sleeping at the switch
To be failing to attend to one's responsibilities or duties; to be inattentive to that which is important or for which one is responsible. Johnson was supposed to make sure the paperwork went through before the deadline, but it looks like he was sleeping at the switch. Our goalkeeper is such a nincompoop. We would have won that match if he hadn't been sleeping at the switch!
fall asleep at the switch
To fail to attend to one's responsibilities or duties; to be inattentive to that which is important or for which one is responsible. Johnson was supposed to make sure the paperwork went through before the deadline, but it looks like he fell asleep at the switch. Our goalkeeper is such a nincompoop. We would have won that match if he hadn't fallen asleep 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.
bait and switch
Fig. a deceptive merchandising practice where one product is advertised at a low price to get people's attention [the bait], but pressure is applied to get the customer to purchase a more expensive item. Walter described how the store used bait and switch, since they never seemed to have in stock the bargains that they advertised. Wilbur accused the merchant of bait and switch practices and stalked out of the store.
to change, swing, or turn around. The horse switched around and ran the other way. I switched around and sat looking the other way for a while.
switch (around) (with someone or something)
to exchange or trade with someone or something. (The optional elements cannot be transposed.) I liked Jill's lunch, and she liked mine, so I switched around with her. I liked Jill's, and she liked mine, so we switched around with each other.
switch back(to something)
1. to return to using or doing something. I decided to switch back to my old shampoo. I switched back and was glad I did.
2. [for a road] to reverse upon itself. The mountain road switched back twenty times in three miles. It switched back every now and then.
switch from someone (to someone else)
to change one's choice from one person to another. I had chosen Jeff, but I will switch from him to Judy. Tom wanted to try a new barber, so he switched from Nick to Bruno.
switch from something (to something else)
to change one's choice from one thing to another. We switched from oil to gas heat in our house. I don't like to switch from one brand to another.
switch into something
to change [one's clothes] into something else. Let me switch into something a little more dressy if we are going to a nice restaurant. I have to switch into something more comfortable.
1. Lit. [for something] to turn itself off. At midnight, all the lights switched off automatically. The television switched off after I went to sleep.
2. Fig. [for someone] to stop paying attention; to become oblivious to everything. I got tired of listening and switched off. You could see that the audience was switching off.
1. [for something] to turn itself on. Exactly at midnight, the lights switched on. The radio switched on early in the morning to wake us up.
2. Sl. [for someone] to become alert or excited. The wild music made all the kids switch on and start to dance. About midnight, Ed switches on and becomes a real devil.
switch over (to someone or something)
to change to or choose someone or something else. That newscaster is too contentious. Switch over to another station. Okay, I'll switch over.
switch someone or something around
to change, swing, or turn someone or something. I was prepared for a late flight out of Miami, but they switched me around at the last minute. They switched around my flights.
switch someone or something off
to cause someone or something to be quiet or stop doing something. I got tired of listening to her, so I punched the button and switched her off. I switched off the television set.
switch someone or something over to something
to reassign, change, or convert someone or something to something. They switched me over to a later flight. I want to switch my furnace over to gas.
switch someone or something over to someone or something
to transfer electronically a signal from someone or something to someone or something else. Tom is on the line. Shall I switch him over to Jeff? Please switch the call over to my other line.
switch someone or something through
to connect someone or something with something else. I will switch you through the priority network. The operator switched the call through.
switch something back (to something)
to return something to the way it was. I switched the television back to the previous channel. I switched back the channel to what I was watching before.
switch something (from something) (in)to something
to change something from one thing into another. The magician switched the silk scarf from red into green. I would love to be able to switch lead into gold.
switch something on
to close an electrical circuit that causes something to start functioning or operating. Please switch the fan on. I switched on the fan.
switch something out
to remove something from an electrical circuit to turn it off. Please switch the light out. I switched out the light.
switch something over (to something)
to convert something to something else. We are switching our furnace over to gas. We switched over our furnace to gas.
switch something to (something else)
to change something to something else. It was hot so I switched the thermostat from heating to cooling. Mary switched the controls to automatic so she wouldn't have to worry about them constantly.
switch to something
to change to something. I am going to switch to a cheaper brand of tissues. We switched to a different long-distance telephone company to save some money.
1. Sl. alert and up-to-date; with it. My brother is switched on and has lots of friends. I'm not switched on. In fact, I am pretty dull.
2. Sl. excited. I get switched on by that kind of music. I am never switched on by raucous music.
shift gearsalso switch gears
to suddenly change what you are doing I'd like to shift gears now and talk about a personal concern.
Etymology: based on the idea that a vehicle will change speed when you change gears (machine parts)
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
be asleep at the switch(American)
if someone is asleep at the switch, they are not ready to act quickly to avoid problems and do their job well Let's face it, if employees were stealing all that money, then management was asleep at the 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.
bait and switch
A deceptive commercial practice in which customers are induced to visit a store by an advertised sale item and then are told that it is out of stock or that it is far inferior to some more expensive item. For example, I won't buy a car from this outfit; they're notorious for their bait and switch tactics. The verb to bait has meant to supply a hook or trap with a morsel of food so as to attract a fish or animal since about 1300; the verb to switch has meant to change, alter, or transfer from one thing to another since the 1890s. The pairing of the two, however, dates only from the 1920s, although the practice is surely much older. It is called switch-selling in Britain.
Stop paying attention, lose interest, as in Whenever he starts in on economics, I switch off automatically. This metaphoric expression transfers turning off a light switch or similar device to diverting one's attention. [c. 1860] Also see switch on.
Produce as if operating by a control, as in She switched on the charm as soon as he walked in. [Mid-1900s] Also see switch off.
1. To alter something by shifting its components: The baseball manager switched the lineup around so that the best batter would go first. The decorator switched around the room to make it feel less cramped.
2. To swap someone or something with another: The decorator switched the chair around with the bookcase. The manager switched the two players around.
1. To deactivate something using a switch: We switched off the lights before we left the house. Switch that vacuum cleaner off so you can hear what I'm saying.
2. To stop paying attention; lose interest: The whole class switched off when the professor started talking about accounting.
3. To alternate performing some task with another person: We switch off the baby-sitting every Friday so that one of us can go to the movies. It's a long drive, but if we switch off we won't get tired.
To activate something using a switch: We switched on the lights and entered the room. I switched the fan on to cool down the kitchen.
1. To make or undergo a shift from one thing to another: I switched over to the trumpet from the saxophone. Some groups have started using the new operating system, but our division won't switch over until next year.
2. To shift someone or something from one thing to another: The IT department switched our division over to the new operating system. A better medicine came out, so the doctor switched over all her patients.
3. To change channels: I switched over to the classical music station when I got bored with the news.
asleep at the switch
mod. inattentive to duty. (Not literal.) Donald was asleep at the switch when the call came in.
n. a switchblade knife. (The folding pocket knife springs open when a button is pushed.) They found a switch in his pocket when they searched him.
in. to become oblivious to everything. I want to go home and switch off—just forget this whole day. I have to switch off when I go home.
1. in. to come alive. She saw her child and immediately switched on.
2. in. to become modern and participate in current fads and events. Most kids I know switched on when they went to high school.
1. mod. alert and up-to-date; with it. My brother is switched on and has lots of friends.
2. mod. excited. I am never switched on by raucous music.
1. n. a ballplayer who bats either right-handed or left-handed. (Baseball.) I’m not a switch-hitter. In fact, I can hardly hit the ball at all.
2. n. a bisexual person. (From sense 1) Bart finally decided he was a switch-hitter and asked Brad for a date since Mary was busy.