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noun \ˈswā\

Simple Definition of sway

  • : a slow movement back and forth

  • : a controlling force or influence

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sway

  1. 1 :  the action or an instance of swaying or of being swayed :  an oscillating, fluctuating, or sweeping motion

  2. 2 :  an inclination or deflection caused by or as if by swaying

  3. 3a :  a controlling influenceb :  sovereign power :  dominionc :  the ability to exercise influence or authority :  dominance

Examples of sway in a sentence

  1. the sway of the ship

  2. the sexy sway of her hips

  3. He has come under the sway of terrorists.

  4. The ancient Romans held sway over most of Europe.

Origin of sway

Middle English sweigh, from sweyen

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of sway

power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine. power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence <the power to mold public opinion>. authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits <granted the authority to manage her estate>. jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits <the bureau having jurisdiction over parks>. control stresses the power to direct and restrain <you are responsible for the students under your control>. command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience <the army officer in command>. sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence <the empire extended its sway over the region>. dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority <given dominion over all the animals>.

power, force, energy, strength, might mean the ability to exert effort. power may imply latent or exerted physical, mental, or spiritual ability to act or be acted upon <the awesome power of flowing water>. force implies the actual effective exercise of power <used enough force to push the door open>. energy applies to power expended or capable of being transformed into work <a worker with boundless energy>. strength applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack <use weight training to build your strength>. might implies great or overwhelming power or strength <the belief that might makes right>.




Simple Definition of sway

  • : to move slowly back and forth

  • : to cause (someone) to agree with you or to share your opinion

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sway

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1a :  to swing slowly and rhythmically back and forth from a base or pivotb :  to move gently from an upright to a leaning position

  3. 2 :  to hold sway :  act as ruler or governor

  4. 3 :  to fluctuate or veer between one point, position, or opinion and another

  5. transitive verb
  6. 1a :  to cause to sway :  set to swinging, rocking, or oscillatingb :  to cause to bend downward to one sidec :  to cause to turn aside :  deflect, divert

  7. 2 archaic a :  wieldb :  govern, rule

  8. 3a :  to cause to vacillateb :  to exert a guiding or controlling influence on

  9. 4 :  to hoist in place <sway up a mast>

swayer noun

Examples of sway in a sentence

  1. branches swaying in the breeze

  2. He swayed a moment before he fainted.

  3. The lawyer tried to sway the jury.

  4. She persisted in her argument, but I wouldn't let her sway me.

Origin of sway

alteration of earlier swey to fall, swoon, from Middle English sweyen, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse sveigja to sway; akin to Lithuanian svaigti to become dizzy

First Known Use: circa 1500

Synonym Discussion of sway

swing, wave, flourish, brandish, thrash mean to wield or cause to move to and fro or up and down. swing implies regular or uniform movement <swing the rope back and forth>. wave usually implies smooth or continuous motion <waving the flag>. flourish suggests vigorous, ostentatious, graceful movement <flourished the winning lottery ticket>. brandish implies threatening or menacing motion <brandishing a knife>. thrash suggests vigorous, abrupt, violent movement <an infant thrashing his arms about>.

swing, sway, oscillate, vibrate, fluctuate, waver, undulate mean to move from one direction to its opposite. swing implies a movement of something attached at one end or one side <the door suddenly swung open>. sway implies a slow swinging or teetering movement <trees swaying in the breeze>. oscillate stresses a usually regular alternation of direction <an oscillating fan>. vibrate suggests the rapid oscillation of an elastic body under stress or impact <the vibrating strings of a piano>. fluctuate suggests constant irregular changes of level, intensity, or value <fluctuating interest rates>. waver stresses irregular motion suggestive of reeling or tottering <the exhausted runner wavered before collapsing>. undulate suggests a gentle wavelike motion <an undulating sea of grass>.

affect, influence, touch, impress, strike, sway mean to produce or have an effect upon. affect implies the action of a stimulus that can produce a response or reaction <the sight affected her to tears>. influence implies a force that brings about a change (as in nature or behavior) <our beliefs are influenced by our upbringing>. touch may carry a vivid suggestion of close contact and may connote stirring, arousing, or harming <plants touched by frost> <his emotions were touched by her distress>. impress stresses the depth and persistence of the effect <only one of the plans impressed him>. strike, similar to but weaker than impress, may convey the notion of sudden sharp perception or appreciation <struck by the solemnity of the occasion>. sway implies the acting of influences that are not resisted or are irresistible, with resulting change in character or course of action <politicians who are swayed by popular opinion>.

SWAY Defined for Kids



verb \ˈswā\

Definition of sway for Students


  1. 1 :  to swing slowly back and forth or from side to side <Tree branches were swaying in the wind.>

  2. 2 :  to change or cause to change between one point, position, or opinion and another <The lawyer tried to sway the jury.>




Definition of sway for Students

  1. 1 :  the act of slowly swinging back and forth or from side to side

  2. 2 :  a controlling influence or force :  rule <The country is under the sway of a tyrant.>

Seen and Heard

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