to switch gears

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 7 01:52:35 UTC 2011

Not in OED--the straight meaning is directly derivable, so no need for
it, but the figurative meaning is not. It means "to change attitude,
approach, direction [abruptly]; to make a different choice, preference" Unabridged is the only one I found to have a definition:

> shift/switchgears--to change one's attitude, course of action,
> methods, etc., in an abrupt, dramatic, or unexpected manner: In the
> middle of the second act the play shifts gears from comedy to tragedy.

A few news items just from the last couple of days:
> In the past week, we've all switched gears from reviews of 2010 to
> previews of 2011.
> It was at that moment he scrapped his plans for a cafe and switched
> gears to yogurt.
> The man who advised the famed tax cutting President on Reaganomics has
> switched gears, but, take into consideration a few things.
> The defense team for Dr. Conrad Murray who stands accused of
> involuntary manslaughter in the premature death of R&B icon Michael
> Jackson, has now switched gears and will use the theory that the
> entertainer may have killed himself.
> While Town Manager Jeff Durbin said Fraser will continue to support
> the underpass, Nelson said Winter Park Town Council has switched gears
> at this point and is focusing entirely on the Quiet Zones.

The American Dialect Society -

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