I am interested in the terminology of the term "root bridge." Why was this word chosen instead of the word switch, which would have been more intuitive?

  • Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you can provide and accept your own answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 17:55

2 Answers 2


Spanning Tree Protocol was developed for bridges. Switches are bridges. The original bridges only had a very few interfaces, and bridging was handled in software. When bridges became high-density interface devices, then they started being called switches. It began as a marketing term. Now, the bridging (switching) is handled almost completely in hardware.

  • Thank you for the answer. I did not know this details. Do you happen to know a good source where I can read about the history of bridges and switches? Or the history of computer networking in general?
    – yoyo_fun
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 6:49
  • Unfortunately, resource recommendations are explicitly off-topic here. This is something you could discuss in Network Engineering Chat.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 13:52

Actually, it's because the root bridge acts as a bridge in that situation. There were actually devices called bridges. This article explained it well.


  • "Switch" is a common, everyday name for a multi-port MAC bridge, as it's officially named by IEEE. IEEE 802.1Q "Bridges and Bridged Networks" doesn't use "switch" for the device anywhere.
    – Zac67
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 10:43

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