Bait and switch and switch selling are twentieth century idioms. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common sayings bait and switch and switch selling, where they came from, and some examples of their idiomatic usage in sentences.
Bait and switch describes a selling tactic: The seller advertises a low-priced product, but when the customer arrives at the business to buy that product, he finds it no longer available or the seller tries to talk him into purchasing a higher-priced product. The seller had never intended to sell the low-priced product to the customer. In many countries, the bait and switch tactic is illegal, though it is still used often. Bait and switch is treated as a noun, and it may refer to either the act of using this tactic or the low-priced item that was used in the advertisement. When used as an adjective before a noun the term is hyphenated, as in bait-and-switch. Bait and switch is an American idiom that came into use in the 1920s and has only grown in popularity.
Switch selling is the British term for bait and switch. Though the idiom switch selling came into use around the same time as the idiom, bait and switch, the term is not used nearly as often. When used as an adjective before a noun the term is hyphenated, as in switch-selling.
Susan Sarandon says President Biden and the Democrats are pulling a ‘bait and switch’ by promising $2,000 stimulus checks then sending out $1,400 to Americans. (Daily Mail)
The Lund Report has learned that Trillium Community Health Plan, a for-profit company owned by Fortune 500 company insurer Centene, has used what one provider called “bait and switch” tactics to get providers to sign up. (Lund Report)
What do you get when you combine “bait-and-switch,” the questionable sales tactic of offering one thing and then substituting another of lower quality, and ghosting, when someone you started a seemingly meaningful relationship with mysteriously vanishes? (Psychology Today)