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 public image of Big Tech had begun to sour over the course of Amazon’s search, amid increasing concerns about its influence and reach. Katie Honan, WSJ, "Amazon Cancels HQ2 Plans in New York City," 15 Feb. 2019 The king subsequently signed off on Mahathir, but the hours of uncertainty put the spotlight on Malaysia’s monarchy at a time when some of the royals are seeking to reassert their influence in politics. Eileen Ng, The Seattle Times, "A look at Malaysia’s monarchy before sultans pick next king," 23 Jan. 2019 Their influence is limited, but their love is endless. Joelle Monique, Teen Vogue, ""If Beale Street Could Talk" Highlights the Power of Love in a World Designed for Black People to Fail," 9 Jan. 2019 Bennett’s focus here is squarely on that, which makes the book surprisingly relevant in today’s world, where vast tech companies squash their competitors and seek to grow their influence amongst their customers and general public. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Foundryside is a cyberpunk adventure wrapped in an epic fantasy novel," 23 Dec. 2018 Though Midge isn't modeled after Mabley per se, her importance in comedic history can't be ignored—both for breaking boundaries as an African American and out lesbian in the 1920s, and for her influence on later comedians. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," 16 Dec. 2018 Trump may or may not agree with that assessment, but his influence is limited because norms dictate that antitrust decisions be made by Delrahim (as well as officials at the Federal Trade Commission) without interference from the White House. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Newly elected Republican senator could be Google’s fiercest critic," 24 Nov. 2018 In many ways, his influence would loom large after his son took the reins. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Why Eero Saarinen’s ‘50s office was a breeding ground for modernist design," 8 Nov. 2018 The indictment also accused Joyce of using his political influence to help a Dunkin’ Donuts store owner in exchange for hundreds of pounds of fresh coffee, the Boston Globe reported. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Democrat awaiting corruption trial found dead; autopsy planned," 28 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Aside from Buddhism, Thai massage was also heavily influenced by Ayurvedic practices in India, and traditional Chinese medicine, too. Annie Daly, SELF, "Thai Massage Was Not at All What I Expected—Now, It's My New Favorite Recovery Method," 1 Feb. 2019 Once the must-have account for college students on the cutting edge, the company has been accused of everything from influencing the 2016 presidential election to precipitating genocidal massacre in Myanmar. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Facebook Allowed Corporate Partners to Access Private Messages," 19 Dec. 2018 What ties, if any, exist between the business dealings of Manafort, Gates, and the Russian efforts to influence the election? Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "Indicting 12 Russian Hackers Could Be Mueller's Biggest Move Yet," 13 July 2018 This seemingly ridiculous purchase was initially the result of being Insta-influenced by Busy Philipps. Lourdes Avila Uribe, Glamour, "I Bought a $300 Trampoline for My Apartment, and I Have No Regrets," 9 Jan. 2019 Getty ImagesBen Gabbe The pinnacle of fashion influencing: running your own brand. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "10 Fashion Influencers Who Run Their Own Brands Like a Boss," 3 Jan. 2019 People accused the Chinese police of botching the investigation, insisting that Sun Wei's prominent family connections influenced her release. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Study brings us one step closer to solving 1994 thallium poisoning case," 25 Dec. 2018 The songs on that album marked a transition from Miley's previous Bangerz era, which was heavily pop, synth, and hip-hop influenced. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "Miley Cyrus Releases New Music Video for Mark Ronson Song "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart"," 30 Nov. 2018 The Major did not delay, writing at length to Atkins on March 4, pinning blame on Hayden for negatively influencing the tenor of the congressional discussion by raising false issues solely to advance himself personally. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 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

18 Feb 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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