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

Synonyms: Verb

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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 This is the argument that most influences my feelings. Abigail Van Buren, Houston Chronicle, "Marriage crumbling as couple’s communication becomes bitter," 28 Mar. 2020 Adding up all of those little minutes over time, to me, becomes the true power of parents’ influence on their child’s learning process — and potentially their future. Neha Chaudhary, New York Times, "If Your Kid Keeps Asking ‘Why,’ Give Them an Answer," 27 Mar. 2020 China has assiduously asserted influence in global institutions, especially United Nations bodies, where Chinese nationals lead four of 15 specialized agencies. Aaron Rhodes, National Review, "China Is Pushing a ‘Zero’ Myth on COVID-19," 27 Mar. 2020 While the battle for political and economic influence between the West and East is playing out across the continent of Africa, the behavior of capital will greatly influence current and future narratives. Simon Manda, Quartz Africa, "Chinese capital investments in Africa are smaller but more influential than UK or France," 25 Mar. 2020 There are also known Arab influences across the island, evident in languages, manuscripts including Arabic characters and an archaeological site containing a large mosque from the 12th century. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "The mystery of Madagascar's forest cats," 24 Mar. 2020 The founding townsite planners skipped J Street, but not because of any Norwegian or other foreign influence. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "Histories of Anchorage: Why isn’t there a J Street? And other reader questions," 23 Mar. 2020 The man was arrested and charged with driving under the influence-physical control. Cheryl Higley, cleveland, "Burglars strike mobile home park: North Ridgeville Police Blotter," 21 Mar. 2020 Get to know Women Who Travel podcast guests Ibeyi, whose music fuses Cuban, French, and Yoruba influences79. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "101 Ways to Travel Without Leaving Your House," 20 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Both their effectiveness and their side-effects are influenced by enzymes produced in the liver. The Economist, "Pharmacogenomics can show what your body makes of a drug," 14 Mar. 2020 Some were influenced by Adelle Davis, Lelord Kordel, or other health food proponents of the fifties. Ellen Fort, Sunset Magazine, "Georgia O’Keeffe’s Collection of Handwritten Recipes Sold to Yale Library," 9 Mar. 2020 The way O’Keeffe looked at plants, with a botanist’s eye for structure and strangeness, influenced my own interactions with prickly-pear cacti in our front yard. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "Cooking from Georgia O’Keeffe’s Recipes," 6 Mar. 2020 By accusing Roberts of misrepresenting his comments for partisan reasons, Schumer (via his spokesman) is obviously trying to influence the chief justice, as well. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Schumer to Gorsuch and Kavanaugh: Nice Little Court, Ya Got There, Hate to See Anything Happen to It …," 5 Mar. 2020 AP Photo/Michael Wyke The Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign has tried to influence voters—presumably those on the younger side—through a deluge of paid-for memes on social platforms. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "The best Bloomberg roasts on TikTok and Instagram," 28 Feb. 2020 But a deeper dive reveals much more about this social media account — and provides a glimpse into a dark cyberworld of shadowy figures trying to influence American voters during another presidential campaign. Darrel Rowland, USA Today, "You're going to face a tsunami of disinformation again this election cycle, experts warn," 24 Feb. 2020 Their vibrant and effortlessly cool aesthetic influenced a then-burgeoning generation of young and modern Black women. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Tia Mowry Wants Black Women to Be a Part of the Wellness Conversation," 24 Feb. 2020 But more broadly, the FBI director at the beginning of the month, Chris Wray, testified that Russia continues to try to influence the elections mainly through social media manipulation. CBS News, "Transcript: Robert O'Brien on "Face the Nation," February 23, 2020," 23 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for influence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for influence

Last Updated

31 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Influence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/influence. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for influence

influence

noun
How to pronounce influence (audio)

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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Comments on influence

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