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Is there any difference between switch and swap?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Swap means "exchange", while switch means "change".

When you swap something, you replace something with something else:

house swap, wife swap

When you switch something, you move from something to something else:

Switch language, switch flight

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Swap (to me) implies replacing some physical object with another. Switch means changes from some property, location, or attribute to another. – Malvolio Apr 27 '11 at 20:27
Also, swapping usually implies exactly two entities having a role in the play. – Roberto Aloi Apr 27 '11 at 20:29
+1 wife swap... – Lukasz Madon Apr 27 '11 at 23:38
For swap, I think "interchange" is better word than "exchange". See english.stackexchange.com/questions/34545/… – Theta30 Jan 21 '12 at 4:08

In "ordinary" usage probably not.

In technical use there are differences depending on the field

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For instance, <code>switch</code> is a construct in some programming languages, and "swapping" in programming is swapping the values of two variables. – compman Apr 27 '11 at 20:00
Thank you very much ! – Florian Apr 27 '11 at 20:06

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