• switch to a different approach or mindset
      To change one's strategy or way of thinking in a situation, often in order to be more successful or effective

    • physically shift gears in a vehicle
      To shift to a different gear in a manual transmission vehicle, usually in response to changes in speed or terrain

    • adapt to a new situation or environment
      To adjust or acclimate to a new situation or environment, often in a quick or abrupt manner

Examples of Change gears

  • After months of intense focus on a single project, it's time to change gears and shift our attention to other priorities.

    The idiom "change gears" refers to transitioning from one activity or focus to another, as if shifting gears in a car to move from one speed to another. In this example, the speaker is indicating that they have been working intensely on a specific project for a long time, but now it's time to switch their focus to other tasks that require their attention.


The idiom "change gears" can have multiple meanings, but they all involve some form of shifting or adjusting. It can refer to a change in approach or mindset, a physical change in a vehicle, or adapting to a new situation. In all cases, the intention is to switch to a different mode or way of doing things.

Origin of "Change gears"

The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the invention of the automobile and the manual transmission. In a manual transmission vehicle, the gears need to be physically shifted in order to change the speed and power of the vehicle. This action became associated with the idea of changing one's approach or strategy, and eventually evolved into the figurative meaning of the idiom.

Another possible origin of this idiom could be from the world of sports, specifically in racing. When driving a race car, the driver needs to constantly shift gears to adjust to the changing track and conditions. This can be seen as a metaphor for adapting and adjusting in various situations, leading to the usage of the idiom in a non-automotive context.

Overall, the idiom "change gears" has become a common phrase in everyday language, used to describe various forms of shifting or adapting. Its origins in the world of transportation and sports have evolved into a versatile idiom that can be applied to a wide range of situations.