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.
under the influence
: affected by alcohol or drug intoxication
was arrested for driving under the influence
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The Surprising History of Influence and Its Modern Use
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.
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
Examples of influence in a Sentence
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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Inspired by Chinese influences, cultural elements and local beauty trends, the contestants’ diverse talents will be judged by industry experts Tony Li and Chen Xinmiao.—Patrick Frater, Variety, 1 Dec. 2023 The sounds were placed front and center in the mix to ensure that the nonet’s influence and inspiration were unambiguous to the listening public.—Dr. Marcus Collins, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 Microsoft's new oversight could provide it significant visibility into and influence over future board decisions at OpenAI.—Will Knight, WIRED, 30 Nov. 2023 Among the artist’s influences are painters of the Italian Renaissance, and his large-scale oil paintings and bronze sculptures are classically tinged.—Fiona Kerr Thomas Page McBee Ryan Haase Juan A. Ramírez Gage Daughdrill Jo Rodgers, New York Times, 30 Nov. 2023 In its 2023 annual threat assessment report, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence found that China is prioritizing influence campaigns, especially as both major U.S. political parties routinely criticize Beijing.—Kevin Collier, NBC News, 30 Nov. 2023 Soviet influence was diminishing in the Middle East; the last thing Dr. Kissinger wanted was to bolster it with an arrangement such as Nixon was seeking.—Thomas W. Lippman, Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2023 Fearless: Youthful Farmhouse The Fearless era has the same youthful spirit as the debut album but with more confidence and pop influence.—Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 29 Nov. 2023 So, the combination of the video games, avant-garde jazz musicians in New Orleans, funk musicians, and the Hot Boys and Master P and Mystikal were my early influences.—Brian Hiatt, Rolling Stone, 29 Nov. 2023
So, the score was influenced by the party feel as well.—Monique Newman, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Dec. 2023 The relatively cool number was influenced by the modest storm that moved through the county on Wednesday and Thursday.—Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Dec. 2023 Hong Kong movies got influenced from all the English movies, and so Hong Kong movies have everything: action, drama, romance, a sense of humor.—Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 1 Dec. 2023 His social media posts over the past year have become increasingly political and have been directly influenced by many of the same far–right figures who encouraged their followers to meet in the center of Dublin ahead of the riots.—David Gilbert, WIRED, 1 Dec. 2023 But, he also was heavily influenced by the notion of businessmen in Hong Kong who’ve decided to go on a trip to Hawaii–while on their trip their prompted to go back home for a meeting.—Robyn Mowatt, Essence, 1 Dec. 2023 The experience and feelings of accompanying his family to various hospitals for treatment have deeply influenced Yoga Lin’s creative attitude.—Billboard China, Billboard, 1 Dec. 2023 For example, language and cultural barriers might seem insignificant at first, but will certainly influence the treatment experience and post-operative care.—Nicole F. Roberts, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Miller, a longtime aide to former President Donald Trump, seemed to influence Musk’s thinking on how to counterattack Media Matters from a legal standpoint.—Ben Goggin, NBC News, 22 Nov. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'influence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
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
: the act or power of producing an effect indirectly or without apparent use of force or exercise of command
: dishonest interference with authority for personal gain
: a person or thing that influences
2 of 2verb
: to have an influence on : affect by influence
Middle English influence "a fluid formerly believed to flow from the stars to cause people to act a certain way," from early French influence (same meaning), derived from Latin influere "to flow in," from in- "in" and fluere "to flow" — related to fluid
1 of 2noun
: the act or power of producing an effect without any apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command
: corrupt interference with authority for personal gain
: the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways
: one that exerts influence
2 of 2transitive verb
: 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 media—Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm'n, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010)
: to have an effect on the condition or development of