Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A road, trail, or railroad track that follows a zigzag course on a steep incline.
  • n. A sharp bend in a road or trail on a steep incline.
  • n. Chiefly British A roller coaster.
  • intransitive v. To proceed in sharp turns in alternating directions on a steep incline: the trail switchbacked up the mountain; the hikers switchbacked up the hill.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A zigzag path, road or railway track; especially a railway track in which the train travels in a reverse direction at each switch
  • n. A hairpin bend.
  • n. A roller coaster.
  • v. To zigzag.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Characterized by alternate motion, or by motion back and forth; pertaining to or adapted to use on a switchback: as, a switchback method of ascent; a switchback series of inclines; a switchback railway.
  • n. A railway for ascending or descending steep acclivities, in which a practicable grade is obtained by curving the track alternately backward and forward along the side of the slope. Also called switchback railway.
  • n. By extension, an inclined railway in which the movement of a train or of a car is partly or wholly effected by gravity, as in the switchback railway at Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, and railways constructed for purposes of amusement at watering-places, fairs, and pleasure-resorts.

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