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

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

This could reflect the influence of hormones or possibly social differences among gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, the study authors speculated. Susan Scutti, CNN, "No 'gay gene' can predict sexual orientation, study says," 30 Aug. 2019 The Old Farmer’s Almanac formula includes historical data, meteorology and the influence of climate change in addition to sunspots. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Farmers' vs. Farmer's: What the almanacs are predicting for winter 2019," 29 Aug. 2019 Still, her influence lives on today, especially in fashion. Gabi Thorne, Allure, "Hailey Bieber Channels Princess Diana in Vogue Paris Shoot," 29 Aug. 2019 Police charged the Swampscott woman, 54, with operating under the influence of liquor (second offense), negligent operation, reckless operation, and failing to stop for police. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "A man on a lawn mower gets pulled over," 28 Aug. 2019 And while the combined resources and influence of 51 attorneys general is extensive, the new agreement is also non-binding, and doesn't involve any new legal authority to force telecoms to step up their cooperation. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "The Fight Against Robocalls Gets Powerful New Allies," 22 Aug. 2019 End Citizens United, a group that hopes to lessen the influence of corporate campaign cash, wants the party to hold a debate on that topic. Joe Garofoli, SFChronicle.com, "Democrats risk alienating young voters by ditching climate-only debate," 22 Aug. 2019 Sanders’s campaign is making this about the influence of the wealthy. Tara Golshan, Vox, "The divide between Harris and Sanders on health care is deepening.," 20 Aug. 2019 In 2019, there’s a newfound anxiety about the influence of social media, and Borderlands 3’s villains, known as the Calypso Twins, are the personification of those fears. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Borderlands 3 has a billion guns, and its most dangerous weapon is vlogging," 14 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The availability of insurance is influenced by a variety of factors, including economic conditions, because most insured U.S. residents get their health plans through an employer. Amy Goldstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Share of Americans without health insurance increases, Census Bureau reports," 10 Sep. 2019 Sri Lanka was influenced more by import from outside the subcontinent than from its nearby regions within the subcontinent. Sahana Ghosh, Quartz India, "India’s noxious emissions are messing up neighbours’ air, too," 8 Sep. 2019 These are three factors that could heavily influence the outcome of Saturday's match, along with The Enquirer's final-score prediction: • Will Jozy Altidore play? Pat Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "FC Cincinnati versus Toronto FC: 3 keys and prediction," 5 Sep. 2019 Work stress, libido-lowering medications, chronic illness, and injuries are all factors that can influence intimacy. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "What Does It Mean to Have a 'Dead Bedroom' Relationship? We Asked a Sex Therapist," 3 Sep. 2019 Those high risks led to a legacy that influenced a generation. Dan Reilly, Fortune, "How Missy Elliott’s Music Videos Influenced a Generation, According to the Man Who Directed 11 of Them," 26 Aug. 2019 Save the day’s last two stops—Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr, the two Alsatian towns that allegedly influenced the original Beauty and the Beast—for golden hour. Tyler Moss, Condé Nast Traveler, "An Autumnal Road Trip Through Alsace Wine Country," 13 Aug. 2019 Her remarkable career as a trailblazing singer/songwriter, rapper, producer and overall musical visionary is one that has influenced popular culture for over two decades. Essence, "Missy Elliott To Finally Receive Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award At 2019 MTV VMAs," 12 Aug. 2019 The university’s analysis, which examined hundreds of thousands of homicides over more than two decades, controlled for other factors that may have influenced gun crime, such as poverty, unemployment and gun ownership. Joaquin Palomino, SFChronicle.com, "Can gun laws curb gun violence? Studies suggest some might," 11 Aug. 2019

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

2 Sep 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 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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