Asleep at the Switch

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Failing to act or respond immediately, not being attentive


  • This idiom is originated for railroad back in the mid of 19th century. It was trainman’s duty to accurately switch the trains to change their tracks at exact time. If he fell asleep at the time of switching, train might get crash or go off the tracks. Nowadays, when someone do not pay attention and show carelessness when he/she is supposed to stay alert, this idioms is used for such situation.  

Stephen missed his flight because he was asleep at the switch.

Submitted on February 25, 2019

Additional definitions for 'Asleep at the Switch':

asleep at the switchNeglectful of an important task, responsibility, or opportunity.
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"Asleep at the Switch." STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 12 Dec. 2019. <>.

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