influence

noun
in·​flu·​ence | \ ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)s How to pronounce influence (audio) , 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 How to pronounce influenceable (audio) \ 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.

Synonyms for influence

Synonyms: Noun

authority, clout, credit, heft, in, juice [slang], 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

Four people were injured in a head-on crash in Medford just after 6 p.m. Thursday, and the driver of a vehicle was arrested on a charge of operating under the influence, State Police said. Adam Sennott, BostonGlobe.com, "4 seriously injured in Medford crash, driver arrested," 4 July 2019 Alcohol charges, Lear Nagle Road: On June 16, police were dispatched to assist the fire department with a juvenile who was under the influence. Cheryl Higley, cleveland.com, "Man points gun at landscaper: North Ridgeville police blotter," 3 July 2019 In addition to two counts of negligent manslaughter, Schwarzman is charged with knowingly driving an uninsured vehicle and driving under the influence. Cody Boteler, baltimoresun.com, "Motion to suppress evidence in case that killed 5-year-old and her grandmother in Timonium is denied," 3 July 2019 The second suspect, who lied to officers about his name for approximately 55 minutes, displayed objective symptoms of being under the influence and was arrested. Rachel Spacek, The Mercury News, "Campbell crime report for the week of July 12," 3 July 2019 The driver of the black truck was arrested for being under the influence, police said. R.a. Schuetz, Houston Chronicle, "Man killed in Oak Forest-area truck crash Sunday morning," 30 June 2019 Zhukovskyy failed field sobriety tests and was taken into custody on a charge of driving under the influence. Christopher Keating, courant.com, "Connecticut DMV official denies wrongdoing related to driver in horrific N.H. crash that killed 7 motorcyclists," 26 June 2019 Zhukovskyy received his commercial driver's license August 3, despite having a June 2013 violation for operating a vehicle under the influence, the Massachusetts DOT said. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Truck driver charged with killing motorcyclists in New Hampshire shouldn't have had a license, Massachusetts official says," 26 June 2019 According to Zhukovskyy's driving records, he was charged with operating under the influence just weeks before the crash. CBS News, "Driver charged in New Hampshire crash that killed 7 motorcyclists pleads not guilty," 25 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The trio began their research by looking at how the contact area between a surface and a droplet falling onto it influences how effectively that droplet will bounce away again. The Economist, "How to make a better raincoat with tiny “water bowls”," 4 July 2019 Then the researchers used machine learning—sophisticated computer programs that can find connections among massive amounts of disparate data—to figure out how microbes might influence particular traits. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Gut bacteria could be key to producing tastier cow’s milk," 3 July 2019 During Melo’s trial, a former deputy transportation minister jailed for accepting bribes testified that he was led to believe by Odebrecht’s country manager that the company had already influenced the structuring of the bidding terms through Guarín. Time, "World Bank Arm Implicated in Latin American Graft Scandal," 2 July 2019 There were conflicting viewpoints, the agency found, about the right of the regents to make personnel recommendations and how various political interests influenced the board’s decisions. Talia Richman, baltimoresun.com, "Why has the University of Maryland been placed on 'warning' by its accrediting agency?," 2 July 2019 During Melo’s trial, a former deputy transportation minister jailed for accepting bribes testified that he was led to believe by Odebrecht’s country manager that the company had already influenced the structuring of the bidding terms through Guarín. Washington Post, "World Bank unit implicated in Latin America graft scandal," 2 July 2019 Scientists are interested in how to influence the brain to enter into these states—and not just for the fun of it. Achilleas Pavlou, Quartz, "A lucid dream researcher’s tips for controlling your dreams," 29 June 2019 As ocean acidification continues to disrupt the conditions of seawater, researchers are scrambling to learn how such changes might influence even the tiniest lifeforms on our planet. Emily Toomey, Smithsonian, "Newborn Shrimp Often Undergo Sex Reversal, but Ocean Acidification Could Disturb That Natural Process," 28 June 2019 During the Superior Court proceedings, Newland was able to present only a few isolated incidents of misinformation being relayed by gatherers and the judge ruled the examples, at best, might have influenced only a handful of signers. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Newland Sierra appeals decision to hold referendum in March," 21 June 2019

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

8 Jul 2019

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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 How to pronounce influence (audio) \

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 Comm'n, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010)
2 : to have an effect on the condition or development of

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