I was reading a novel when I came across this line:

Just by looking at her face, I felt as if the switch inside my head was flipped.

I want to ask: is the phrase "the switch inside my head was flipped" or "flip the switch"/"flip one's switch" a real phrase?

If not, can you suggest some alternatives?

Thanks for your responses!

  • Do you mean if it is a common phrase, or an idiom? Obviously it is real, or it would be difficult to discuss. Dec 22, 2020 at 1:19
  • I want to know if that's an idiom that people'd use in normal day-to-day conversations. Dec 22, 2020 at 3:51

1 Answer 1


“Flipping a switch” is a literal phrase describing turning an electric circuit on and off with a wall switch or a similar device.

Metaphorical uses are easy to imagine—a sudden realization or insight, for example. This is the use made in the sentence you quote.

The use “flip my switch,” as though there’s an internal switch, is not one I’ve heard.

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