I'm looking for a word that describes "to enable or to disable". This related question found the hypernyms mode and state, but I am looking for a verb. I.e. a word for "(potentially) change mode/state".

I guess to switch is a good match, but unfortunately in JavaScript (my target language), switch is a reserved keyword.

What alternatives are there?

  • Found myself wondering this exact thing. Thanks for asking this. Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 17:38

6 Answers 6


May I suggest "to set availability"? I think it fits well for function names: SetButtonAvailability(), SetOptionAvailability(), etc. It's long, but descriptive...

  • 2
    along the lines of set, in my work i settled on setSomeVariableState. it avoids saying either enable or disable and it's shorter than availability.
    – mendota
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 21:17

The verb form of toggle can be used to indicate changing state

[no object, with adverbial] Computing switch from one effect, feature, or state to another by using a toggle:
the play/pause button toggles between those functions
[with object]: there are a number of attributes which can be toggled on or off

  • 3
    I thought of that. The problem of toggle is that it implicitly implies a change to a different state. I want to convey the possibility of staying in the same state.
    – Randomblue
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 21:18
  • 3
    @Randomblue How can the word describe, as you put it, "change mode or . . . change state" but also encompass "staying in the same state"?
    – bib
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 21:21
  • 4
    “The problem of ‘toggle’ is that it implicitly implies a change to a different state.” So does “switch”. How can you say, “I guess the verb to switch is a good match,…” if you want to encompass “staying in the same state”? Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 5:14
  • 1
    togglable even works some places: wordsense.eu/togglable Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 16:08
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    @WayfaringStranger And switchable.
    – bib
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 16:24

The verb to set just jumped to mind.


As I'm new, I'm not allowed to comment or vote up, but I like RegDwigнt's suggestion of set and availability wrapped around the item/control name. For example, I have a Secure Team picker control that I am enabling/disabling in script, and I was wondering what to call it. I'm going to adopt that convention and name the method SetSecureTeamPickerAvailability(). It's a bit long-winded, but very descriptive and self-documenting.


"Toggle" is an excellent word for turning on or off.


I’m not sure I grasp what you’re looking for, but it might be ensure, as in “ensure that the ‘Help’ function is enabled.”  Or possibly affirm, which seems to meld the concepts of “confirm” with the possibility of taking action to change the state.

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