influence

noun
in·flu·ence | \ ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)s , especially Southern in-ˈflü- \
plural influences

Definition of influence 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways : sway

2a : the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command

b : corrupt interference with authority for personal gain

3 : one that exerts influence

4 : an emanation of spiritual or moral force

5a : an ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans

b : an emanation of occult power held to derive from stars

under the influence

: affected by alcohol or drug intoxication was arrested for driving under the influence

influence

verb
influenced; influencing

Definition of influence (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to affect or alter by indirect or intangible means She attempted to influence his decision. greatly influenced by my parents

2 : to have an effect on the condition or development of Productivity was influenced by worker satisfaction.

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Other words from influence

Verb

influenceable \ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)-sə-bəl \ adjective
In the situation where performance measures are not seen as influenceable, there is little chance of the person seeing a connection between his effort and his rewards. —Lyman W. Porter et al.
influencer noun plural influencers
The old theme of laziness and mellowness runs counter to today's influencers, who are businesspeople and upscale inspirational promoters of a go-getter way of life. —John C. Dvorak

Synonyms for influence

Synonyms: Noun

authority, clout, credit, heft, in, leverage, pull, sway, weight

Synonyms: Verb

affect, impact, impress, move, reach, strike, sway, tell (on), touch

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Choose the Right Synonym for influence

Noun

influence, authority, prestige, weight, credit mean power exerted over the minds or behavior of others. influence may apply to a force exercised and received consciously or unconsciously. used her influence to get the bill passed authority implies the power of winning devotion or allegiance or of compelling acceptance and belief. his opinions lacked authority prestige implies the ascendancy given by conspicuous excellence or reputation for superiority. the prestige of the newspaper weight implies measurable or decisive influence in determining acts or choices. their wishes obviously carried much weight credit suggests influence that arises from the confidence of others. his credit with the press

Verb

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

The Surprising History of Influence and Its Modern Use

Noun

Influence may seem like a ho-hum word, but its history is heavenly.

The word first referred to a celestial fluid that was believed to flow from the stars. As this fluid reached the Earth, it supposedly affected the actions of the planet's inhabitants—especially the human ones. (The word influenza has the same origin: the Medieval Latin word influentia. It was for a time believed that epidemics were caused by unusual conjunctions of the planets.)

In modern use, the noun typically refers to the power to change or affect someone or something—especially the power to cause changes without directly forcing those changes to happen. Influence can also refer to a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way.

The noun had been in use for more than 200 years before the verb use developed. As a verb, influence typically means "to affect or change someone or something in an indirect but usually important way." Something or someone that influences a person or thing, then, has an influence on that person or thing.

Examples of influence in a Sentence

Noun

Recent years have seen a decline in the company's influence within the industry. Her ideas have gradually gained influence in the company. He used his influence to reform the company's policies. She has remained under the influence of her parents. She claims that her personal problems played no influence upon her decision to resign. His health problems may have had some influence on his decision. Her parents still have a great deal of influence over her. The chairman wields considerable influence over the board's decisions. Her parents are concerned that her new friends may have a bad influence on her. Emily Dickinson has had a major influence on his poetry.

Verb

I was deeply influenced by my parents. She claims that her decision to resign was not influenced by her personal problems. No one knows how this decision will influence the outcome of the election. He's accused of illegally attempting to influence the jury.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Haide Masangcay, 66, of the 3N400 block of Crown Road, Elmhurst, was charged with driving under the influence, improper stopping in the roadway and driving without insurance at 1:36 a.m. July 7 at Grand Avenue and Willow Street. Graydon Megan, chicagotribune.com, "Elmhurst police blotter: Boy playing Pokemon Go in Wilder Park had sword, two knives," 13 July 2018 When Armenia fell under Russian (and subsequently Soviet) influence, the nation’s toasting traditions inevitably evolved. Benjamin Kemper, Smithsonian, "Raising a Glass to Armenia’s Elaborate Toasting Tradition," 13 July 2018 Bongwan starts to reevaluate his behavior when confronted with Areum's positive influence, and his transformation provides this sad film with a glimmer of hope. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Hong Sang-soo and Kim Min-hee's real-life affair yields a trio of films about infidelity," 12 July 2018 But the influence of entities like the California Coastal Commission — even on areas miles from the coast — is difficult to overcome. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "Real estate expert talks about potential impact of rent control," 12 July 2018 True justice can only be achieved through independence from politics or influence, and that has never been more important than today. Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, "Architect of Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion Project Is Convicted in Bid-Rigging Scheme," 12 July 2018 Braiding, particularly in cultures with a strong African influence, is a tradition that goes back for generations. Allure, "25 Gorgeous Black Braided Hairstyles That Will Inspire Your Next Look," 10 July 2018 Russian intelligence gains influence in foreign countries by operating subtly and patiently. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 The California cuisine features a menu of seasonal ingredients with European influences, and the bar program will offer a wine list of more than 150 selections curated by wine buyer and sommelier Nemanja Pejcic. Carolina Gusman, sandiegouniontribune.com, "No matter how you Poke It, Hillcrest eatery introduces Mexican spin to Hawaiian fare," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The pattern has been influenced by where candidates put their resources, their regional ties, their endorsements and the role of conservative talk radio in Milwaukee, which crusaded for Walker in 2010 and against Trump in 2016. Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP senate primary in Wisconsin already reflects north-south divide within party," 13 July 2018 Her design sensibility is influenced by her best friend and decorator Gail Melikian, who owns the antique store Emma’s Back Porch in Ms. Rafaelian’s hometown of Cranston, R.I. Candace Taylor, WSJ, "Inside the Many, Many Homes of This Jewelry Billionaire," 12 July 2018 So a lot of my own evolution, personally, when thinking through this, has obviously kind of been influenced by her in this. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Box CEO Aaron Levie on Recode Decode," 11 July 2018 Tamburello’s decision to come back on the show was heavily influenced by his son. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "MTV's C.T. Tamburello Opens Up About Dad Life and the Craziest Challenge Yet with Final Reckoning," 10 July 2018 These attitudes might also be influenced by how physicians would choose their own care. Orly Nadell Farber, STAT, "Physicians’ beliefs may override cancer patients’ wishes for end-of-life care, study finds," 9 July 2018 Many of the works on display are influenced by the aesthetic of the Far East, a Cartier fascination that dates back to the earliest years of the company. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "Cartier’s New High Jewelry Collection Is a Banquet of Color," 6 July 2018 These rates are influenced by changing demographics and long-term trends, not just the administration’s policies or short-term economic gains. Meg Kelly, Washington Post, "Are people ‘coming back off the sidelines’ and into the workforce, as Ivanka Trump says?," 5 July 2018 The patterns can also be influenced by adjusting the ratios of the chemicals involved, much like adjusting a recipe for a cake. Kevin Davenport, idahostatesman, "O say can you see? The science behind the booms and blooms of Independence Day fireworks," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'influence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of influence

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5a

Verb

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for influence

Noun

Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin influentia, from Latin influent-, influens, present participle of influere to flow in, from in- + fluere to flow — more at fluid

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Statistics for influence

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for influence

The first known use of influence was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for influence

influence

noun

English Language Learners Definition of influence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen

: a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way

influence

verb

English Language Learners Definition of influence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to affect or change (someone or something) in an indirect but usually important way : to have an influence on (someone or something)

influence

noun
in·flu·ence | \ ˈin-ˌflü-əns \

Kids Definition of influence

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or power of causing an effect or change without use of direct force or authority You could move to some other part of Mexico, but … Luis's influence is far-reaching. —Pam Muñoz Ryan,

2 : a person or thing that has an indirect but usually important effect She's a bad influence on him.

influence

verb
influenced; influencing

Kids Definition of influence (Entry 2 of 2)

: to affect or change in an indirect but usually important way I was influenced by my parents.

influence

noun
in·flu·ence

Legal Definition of influence 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the act or power of producing an effect without any apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command

b : corrupt interference with authority for personal gain

2 : the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways

3 : one that exerts influence

under the influence

: affected by alcohol or another intoxicant was arrested for driving under the influence

Other words from influence

influencer noun

influence

transitive verb
influenced; influencing

Legal Definition of influence (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to alter or affect by indirect or intangible means the exemption would allow a conglomerate that owns both a media business and an unrelated business to influence or control the mediaCitizens United v. Federal Election Commʼn, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010)

2 : to have an effect on the condition or development of

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Comments on influence

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