channel surfing

channel-surf

[chan-l-surf]
verb (used without object)
to change from one channel on a television set to another with great or unusual frequency, especially by using a remote control.

Origin:
1985–90, Americanism

channel surfer, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  channel surfing
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  See channel grazing
Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

channel surfing

Switching from one television station (channel) to another frequently, either to search for an interesting program or to keep track of several programs at once. For example, What did you see on TV last night?Nothing much; I was just channel surfing. The term transfers the surfer's search for good waves to the viewer's search for programs. This practice became widespread with the use of remote-control devices for changing channels while remaining seated some distance from the television set. [1980s] A 1990s version is Internet surfing, a similar process for searching cyberspace.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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