Recently a colleague of mine said to me that the "Guys who are switched on really annoy me?". Since I am not a native speaker, I do not know what he meant by "switched on". Can you fine folks shed some light on this?


  • I guess this is a guy who is always talking rapidly and excitedly, as though connected to a live wire...
    – GEdgar
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 13:32
  • I think Jwpat7 has hit most of the likely meanings. As this is a slang term with no "standard" definition, I think you'd need to give more context for us to know what the speaker likely meant.
    – Jay
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 14:18
  • is your colleague a native speaker?
    – n611x007
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 13:23
  • is your colleague male or female?
    – n611x007
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 13:25
  • naxa, why does it matter?
    – Anup
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 13:25

5 Answers 5


The sense of switched on mentioned in wikipedia is "to be enlightened or introduced to something new". This is unlikely to annoy a person. Senses mentioned in thefreedictionary include alert and up-to-date; with it and excited. The first bunch also is unlikely to annoy, while the second might. That is, the speaker might mean "Persons who are excited really annoy me." However, I think the following sense that is shown in urbandictionary is the most likely to be the sense the speaker used: "Switched on can mean to be in love. It is used to describe the feeling someone feels when they are infatuated or turned on, it is another form of turned on." People not in love (or related states of mind) often get annoyed with those who are. Note, urbandictionary is not a dependable source.


Switched on Bach was radically groovy back in the day. Still, Bach looks a little foppish on the album cover.

Possibly your colleague is referring to a guy turned up to an 11, when a 7 would do better.

Of course a guy who is switched on, might also be switched off. Perhaps the on-switching is merely an act.

How old is your colleague? Age is likely to be a big factor in the meaning of the phrase.

  • +1 for "up to 11"
    – J.R.
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 0:01
  • I haven't asked but i think my colleague is in his early 40's. :)
    – Anup
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 13:02

The sense I read from your colleague's comment is that of people who are communicating in a high-energy, aggressively engaged fashion so as to appear as a "go-getter". This is often encountered in those who are attempting some form of social ladder-climbing and, like most manifestations of that, can be intensely irritating to those who are operating with different priorities.


Well I am from India, and back at my place, people used to use ' switched on ' and ' switched off ' as a way to represent a person's mood and sometimes attitude (although I find it unacceptable ), it differs, usually, to be switched off means to be dull, complaining, lethargic, unenthusiastic so 'switched on', in my perspective could mean that the person is over enthusiastic. Have you been in situations where your colleague is in a very good mood or hyperactive sometimes (totally switched on !)? you suggest something that seems to be a perfect suggestion or solution and they try to improve on it, keep giving counter suggestions, they don't mean too, but they are just hyperactive (switched on) and just feel like doing something or the other and not settle down, and that my friend can annoy anybody. The 'switched on' in your question may means being hyperactive or more active than necessary.

  • @Nabdagopal -- Welcome to StackExchange!. I'm not sure why someone downvoted your answer -- maybe you can improve it by supplying so published usages of switched on that back up your experience.
    – Jay Elston
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 4:02
  • @ the person who downvoted the answer, if you could point out my mistake it will be helpful for me and to justify myself, Here switched on means to be sexually active and alternate meaning is to be up to date with the field in question, and when language is concerned, there is always something called as a 'Slang' and Indians are not native speakers of English, it was a language we were forced to learn and sometimes the usage of phrases differ. I will try to find out published work to support my answer.
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 4:12
  • And well, since the person who asked the question Mr.Anup seemed to be from India, I just presented a "possible explanation"
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 4:14

Without more detail, any one of the other posters could be right, but the general sense of the statement is, "Guys who are better off than me, annoy me."

These could be guys who are "in love," or "with it," or "excited about their work," or any other form of "switched on," because your colleague "is not." Someone in his early 40s is more likely to feel any of these emotions than someone younger or much older.

So figure out what your colleague envies, or where he feels he has a deficiency, and you'll find an answer.

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