What is the meaning of the phrase bait and switch?

In order to understand the meaning of “bait and switch”, just think about what the words in the phrase mean by themselves. Bait is something commonly used by fisherman to catch fish – whether it’s a worm at the end of the fishing hook or a shiny object, bait is basically something that is used to catch something that you want. And, switch in the context of “bait and switch” is used to mean a switch that is made once the bait is actually caught.




So, a “bait and switch” occurs when someone tries to trick another person or party by luring them in with some type of promise or expectation, but then does a switch when they meet in person by actually giving them something else that is different than what is promised or expected. The thing that is given is usually something of much lower quality or value than what was expected by the person – and for this reason, a bait and switch is considered to be something negative and is something done by people with questionable morals.

Bait and switch synonyms

Some synonyms for “bait and switch” are: “con job”, “a con artist’s scheme”, and “not as advertised”.

Bait and switch example

"The car salesman said on the phone that the car 
would come with a GPS system at no extra cost.  
But, when I went in to buy the car, he said that the 
GPS would actually cost an extra $100.  It was a bait 
and switch."

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