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 \asleep at the switch; fall\asleep at the switch.) •

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.

* * *
{adj. phr.} 1. Asleep when it is one's duty to move a railroad switch for cars to go on the right track. * /The new man was asleep at the switch and the two trains crashed./ 2. {informal} Failing to act promptly as expected, not alert to an opportunity. * /When the ducks flew over, the boy was asleep at the switch and missed his shot./

Dictionary of American idioms. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • asleep at the switch — {adj. phr.} 1. Asleep when it is one s duty to move a railroad switch for cars to go on the right track. * /The new man was asleep at the switch and the two trains crashed./ 2. {informal} Failing to act promptly as expected, not alert to an… …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • asleep at the switch — If someone is asleep at the switch, they are not doing their job or taking their responsibilities very carefully. Asleep at the wheel is an alternative …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • asleep\ at\ the\ switch — adj. phr. 1. Asleep when it is one s duty to move a railroad switch for cars to go on the right track. The new man was asleep at the switch and the two trains crashed. 2. informal Failing to act promptly as expected, not alert to an opportunity.… …   Словарь американских идиом

  • asleep at the switch — mod. inattentive to duty. (Not literal.) □ Donald was asleep at the switch when the call came in. □ He sat there reading asleep at the switch as usual …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • asleep at the switch — phrasal : not alert to a duty or opportunity * * * asleep at the switch (or wheel) informal not attentive or alert; inactive someone must have been asleep at the switch to allow this …   Useful english dictionary

  • asleep at the switch —    If someone is asleep at the switch, they are not doing their job or taking their responsibilities very carefully. Asleep at the wheel is an alternative.   (Dorking School Dictionary) …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • asleep at the switch — not paying attention. 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… …   New idioms dictionary

  • asleep at the switch —  Not awake; not focused on one’s duties (early U.S. railroad era).  ► “The company’s current troubles date back to the 1980s, when it fell asleep at the switch, letting upstart rivals cut into lucrative parts of the business.” (Barron’s, Aug. 7,… …   American business jargon

  • asleep at the switch — adjective Neglectful of an important task, responsibility, or opportunity. His vote demonstrates that the people of Philadelphia are not asleep at the switch, are not indifferent to their political duties …   Wiktionary

  • asleep at the switch — not alert to an opportunity I think he was asleep at the switch. He didn t even know that the job was available so he never applied for it …   Idioms and examples

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”