Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia.
1. To disable, disconnect, or stop the function of something, with or as with a power switch. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "switch" and "off." Please switch the water off when you're done brushing your teeth. I forgot to switch off my laptop, and now the battery is dead.
2. To cease functioning or become disabled or disconnected from power automatically. The computer switches off if has been inactive for more than an hour. The lights should switch off once there's no longer any motion on the premises.
3. To become unfocused, inattentive, or disengaged. I could tell my students were starting to switch off during my class, so I brought out the projector and started using old cartoons to illustrate my points. I like watching trashy TV shows as a way of switching off after a busy day of work.
4. To share a role or task with someone, alternating when each person is responsible. My wife and I switch off putting the kids to bed each night. There are too many dishes for one person to clean all of them, so let's just switch off halfway through.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.