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.
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

That small gesture sent a powerful signal to everyone who saw it: that representation matters, that those who wield influence have the ability to bring new voices to the table, and that some of the most important allies are the men around us. Meena Harris, Marie Claire, "Phenomenal Woman's Meena Harris on Why We Need Men," 8 Mar. 2019 Even Lee McQueen once said Mugler was one of the biggest influences in his work. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "Is This Exhibit the Reason Kim Kardashian West Is Wearing Vintage Mugler? A First Look Inside Thierry Mugler: Couturissime," 26 Feb. 2019 What a large foundation represents is the exercise of the power of a wealthy person to direct private assets for some public influence. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "The case against billionaire philanthropy," 17 Dec. 2018 According to the documents reported on by Politico, Butina arranged a series of dinners between Russian nationals and Americans with influence in Washington and New York to talk about relations with Russia. Cindy Otis, Teen Vogue, "Accused Russian Spy Maria Butina Was Charged With Conspiring Against the United States as a Secret Agent," 18 July 2018 But the truth is that nobody knows anything, life is unpredictable, and while politics is shaped by deep demographic trends whose influence is detectable in the midterms, things can also change very rapidly in unexpected ways. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "What the 2018 results tell us about 2020," 14 Nov. 2018 As first revealed in the look book, the Moschino x H&M collab offers up a range of influences from MTV to Disney, hip hop culture, and over-the-top bling—all of which feel true to Moschino's signature aesthetic. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Naomi Campbell Epically Closed the Moschino x H&M Runway," 25 Oct. 2018 Stone fireplaces and walls are examples of native materials, and the flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs are exhibitive of Wright’s influence. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Midcentury home inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright asks $325K," 30 Aug. 2018 Becoming a Beacon of Self-Love McGrady has 459K Instagram followers to date, and is well aware of the responsibility that comes with that kind of influence. Kelly Bales, Allure, "Why Model Hunter McGrady Prays for the Haters," 26 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This influenced paintings and manuscripts in the medieval period where rabbits were displayed alongside the Virgin Mary. Jenae Sitzes, Country Living, "The Easter Bunny Origin Story: Where Did The Easter Bunny Actually Come From?," 8 Mar. 2019 The style influences both the aesthetics and durability of a carpet. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Best Carpet Types for a Perfectly Grounded Space," 13 Feb. 2019 Mark Thompson/Getty Images Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 political landscape — and presidential election — was a much wider effort than previously understood. Alex Ward, Vox, "4 main takeaways from new reports on Russia’s 2016 election interference," 17 Dec. 2018 Mueller is investigating whether Trump or anyone on his campaign cooperated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential campaign. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "Trump has nothing to fear from Cohen's cooperation with prosecutors, Giuliani says," 8 July 2018 Romero played classically influenced pieces on the piano and eventually began to help other students at her school with chord pieces and melodies. Britt Julious, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago band the Jellies want to capture the sound of life," 5 July 2018 Still, when Trump uses the cell phones to call friends, Chinese spies often listen in hopes of gaining insights about how to influence him on the long-simmering issue of trade. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "NYT: Chinese and Russian spies routinely eavesdrop on Trump’s iPhone calls," 25 Oct. 2018 For Yale Law student Sarah Camiscoli, Sotomayor influenced her not only as a future lawyer, but as a teacher and student advocate. Marilyn La Jeunesse, Teen Vogue, "Sonia Sotomayor's Tenure as a Supreme Court Justice Makes Latinx Law Students Hopeful for the Future," 12 Oct. 2018 Many prior studies have suggested that Jupiter has greatly influenced the evolution of the solar system. Charles Q. Choi, Space.com, "Most Stars with Jupiters Have Giant Super-Earths," 18 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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Last Updated

18 Mar 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 Commʼn, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010)
2 : to have an effect on the condition or development of

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