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Switchback on a forest trail.
Switchbacks on the Route du Col de Braus (France)


switch +‎ back, originally used to describe zigzag railways.


switchback (plural switchbacks)

  1. A zigzag path, road or railway track; especially a railway track in which the train travels in a reverse direction at each switch [from 1860s]
  2. A hairpin bend.
  3. (dated, Britain) A roller coaster.



switchback (third-person singular simple present switchbacks, present participle switchbacking, simple past and past participle switchbacked)

  1. (of a path etc) To zigzag.
    • 2015 June 25, John Henderson, “A secret range of stunning mountains? Hikers, meet Slovakia's High Tatras”, in LA Times[1]:
      I climbed 6,683-foot Velka Svistovka, not the highest mountain in the Tatras but arguably the one with the best view. I started from Zelene pleso chata (pleso means "lake" and chata means "hut" in Slovak), and right after turning the first corner I started switchbacking.
    Synonym: zigzag

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