to switch gears

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 7 18:47:10 UTC 2011

Victor Steinbok  wrote:
> 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"

Merriam-Webster online has information for the related expression
"shift gears" under "shift":

— shift gears
: to make a change

Victor noted that does have some information. There is
an idiom entry for "switch gears" under "gear":

Idioms 19. 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

The dictionary website has some relevant information:

shift gears also 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)
See also: gear, shift

The American Dialect Society -

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