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, 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

UConn claims to have a management plan that removes Randy Edsall from a place of influence over Corey Edsall’s career advancement and potential earnings. Dave Altimari, courant.com, "Top Ethics Officials Rip Edsall Law As Example Of Why State Government Not Trusted," 26 June 2018 Though Russia is not comfortable with the extent of Iran's influence in Syria, Mr Putin is not ready to torpedo relations with Tehran. The Economist, "Vladimir Putin’s hopes for his long-awaited meeting with Donald Trump," 14 July 2018 PiS officials claim the judicial reforms are needed to fight corruption and rid the courts of communist-era influence. Kristen Chick, The Christian Science Monitor, "By staying on the job, Poland's top judge fights the right-wing government," 13 July 2018 On Thursday, follower counts, which are a gauge of how much influence a person has on Twitter, began dropping. Alyssa Newcomb /, NBC News, "As Twitter purge begins, Trump, Obama, Perry lose hundreds of thousands of followers," 12 July 2018 The prevailing strength of the status quo challenges populist leaders’ chance to transform their electoral success into the kind of political influence that can deliver on their promises. Renad Mansour, Washington Post, "An emerging populism is sweeping the Middle East," 11 July 2018 Rapper Noname is Fatimah Nyeema Warner, and her circle of influence includes Chance the Rapper, who played the festival last year. Erin Richards And Samantha West, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Eaux Claires IV review: Day 2 music," 8 July 2018 Khali the Killer is a violent crime drama that, based on the actual trailer, seems to draw a lot of influence from westerns and '70s exploitation films. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Sony tries to upload movie trailer to YouTube, posts entire movie instead," 3 July 2018 The walls of his modest 1970s office in North Miami are a testament to a life of influence. Jane Wooldridge, miamiherald, "This Miami man created the Florida prepaid college plan. He also owned Studio 54.," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This led to a prospective study in 2004 examining whether fasting (mostly for religious purposes) influenced coronary artery disease. SELF, "What You Need to Know Before Trying Intermittent Fasting," 7 Nov. 2018 Remember, Taurus, not all bonds are romantic: Jupiter’s movement through Scorpio could have influenced dynamics with your friends, family, colleagues or classmates. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What November's Taurus Horoscope Means for You," 28 Oct. 2018 Abrams and other voting rights groups have asserted that these types of laws and Kemp himself are systematically suppressing the right to vote for black and minority voters to influence the election in Kemp's favor. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "107,000 Voters in Georgia Were Just Purged for a Ridiculous Reason," 19 Oct. 2018 Just as the Defense Department contracts private companies to build nuclear submarines, social media companies hire digital private eyes to find fake posts meant to influence the way Americans think about certain issues or candidates. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Social Media Crime Fighters at FireEye Are Helping Facebook Find Fake Accounts," 12 Oct. 2018 Prosecutors, however, say the payoffs were aimed at influencing FCA-UAW contract negotiations in the company's favor. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Widow of UAW VP Holiefield gets 18 months in federal corruption case," 13 July 2018 Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has revealed the finer details of his conversation with Jack Wilshere which influenced the 26-year-old to leave the club. SI.com, "Unai Emery Explains 'Tactical and Technical' Decision to Sell Superstar Jack Wilshere," 13 July 2018 Essentially, soft power is the ability to attract and influence via means other than hard power, which is typically defined as military might and economic incentives or sanctions. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Under President Trump, the U.S.'s 'Soft Power' Is Waning," 13 July 2018 The film, which has worn its summer popcorn Die Hard and Towering Inferno influences on its sleeve, is tracking to open to $33 million to $40 million stateside. Chris Thilk, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' Sells Itself as an Action Throwback," 13 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

11 Nov 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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