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

The state is reaping the benefits of perennially high birthrates, in part reflecting the influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Salt Lake City and encourages large families. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "Utah Shows How Labor-Force Growth Fuels Economic Growth," 18 Jan. 2019 Due in part to the Queen's influence, the Traviata is Launer's best-selling style. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth Has Carried the Same Three Launer Bags for Years, Because Like Her They Improve with Age," 9 Jan. 2019 Another example of the US government’s unease around Huawei — and efforts to keep the Chinese tech giant’s influence at bay — was reported earlier this week by The Wall Street Journal. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Washington Redskins reportedly backed out of Huawei Wi-Fi deal because of government concerns," 26 Dec. 2018 In the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Obama Is Featured on Lin-Manuel Miranda's Latest Hamilton Remix, One Last Time: 44 Remix," 21 Dec. 2018 There are so many influences that people aren’t aware of that make up our food in South Africa—French, Dutch, English, Malay, Indian, African. Pilar Guzmán, Condé Nast Traveler, "South Africa’s Other Big Five," 20 Dec. 2018 So to grow up and have a character like Sabrina [influence] someone’s life, that’s so cool to me. Seventeen Magazine, Seventeen, "“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” Star Kiernan Shipka on Being Shipped with Ross Lynch and Why She Loves Playing a Teenage Witch," 19 Nov. 2018 Spaces have their own energies, and each layer that is added changes and influences the energy of a place. Alejandro Jodorowsky, ELLE Decor, "A Conversation Between Hotelier Alan Faena and Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky," 14 Nov. 2018 Mulakkal was the official patron of her community, the Missionaries of Jesus, wielding immense influence over its budgets and job assignments. Tim Sullivan, The Seattle Times, "AP finds long history of nuns abused by priests in India," 1 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Fed has previously said its decisions are guided by economic analysis and that they won’t be influenced by political pressure. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Trump Says It Is ‘Incredible’ Fed Is Considering Another Rate Increase," 17 Dec. 2018 In other words, a patient population this large is going to have a lot going on other than sepsis, and a lot of it will influence the results of any treatments, so the signal from effective treatments is going to be small and hard to spot. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "AIs trained to help with sepsis treatment, fracture diagnosis," 27 Oct. 2018 Some Poles are hopeful the outside pressure will influence PiS – but not Gersdorf. Kristen Chick, The Christian Science Monitor, "By staying on the job, Poland's top judge fights the right-wing government," 13 July 2018 Compared with recent midterms, more voters…say their view of the president – positive or negative – will influence their vote for Congress. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "The Midterms Are All About Trump," 22 June 2018 The detention follows the U.S. arrest of a Russian citizen, Maria Butina, who last month pleaded guilty to conspiracy to influence American politics and could face as much as six months in prison. Ann M. Simmons, WSJ, "U.S. Pushes for Answers on Russia’s Detention of American for Alleged Spying," 2 Jan. 2019 These themes highlight the trends that led the world of gadgets this year, as nostalgia continues to influence products while simultaneously being a reflection of our bleak times. Dami Lee, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Gadgets," 30 Dec. 2018 This, the researchers argue, can mimic the behaviors seen in some neurons, where strengthening the connection on one collection between two neurons can influence the behavior of neighboring connections. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Researchers make RAM from a phase change we don’t entirely understand," 18 Dec. 2018 The new report — plus a separate report from the University of Oxford also released Monday — provides a fresh look at how social platforms were unwittingly used to influence voter opinion ahead of the 2016 election. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Instagram posts from Russian meddlers played a much bigger role in the 2016 election than we thought," 17 Dec. 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

21 Jan 2019

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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