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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Attendees will learn about the history of the crane in Japanese culture, its influence on paintings and designs, and the origin and purpose of the 1,000 Folded Paper Cranes. courant.com, "Community News For The Colchester Edition," 25 Nov. 2020 Swinney’s success at Clemson gives him outsized influence, both in South Carolina and with Clemson fans everywhere. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Dabo Swinney's criticism of Florida State not only wrong, it's reckless," 23 Nov. 2020 The enormous spending power of the federal government gives Biden major, and near-immediate, influence on clean energy markets. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Biden plans to use federal government purchasing power to go green," 20 Nov. 2020 The outsize influence of the International Crime Free Assn. has been found in cities in Minnesota where there’s been a rise in the Somali population. Los Angeles Times, "Latinx Files: Is this housing policy discriminatory?," 19 Nov. 2020 Harry Styles is many things: a rock star, a Hollywood heartthrob, a fashion influence, Stevie Nicks's love child. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Harry Styles Once Dogsat for The Crown's Emma Corrin," 18 Nov. 2020 There’s Southern influence on their menu, something that Freeman says is due to a lot of California’s Black population having roots in the South. Leena Trivedi-grenier, SFChronicle.com, "This Oakland bakery’s showstopping floral cakes combine California produce with Black food culture," 17 Nov. 2020 Such is the way of the SEC, and its expansive, cultural influence upon the people who love it. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, "Was LSU ducking Alabama?," 16 Nov. 2020 But by 1980, there were hints of Ono’s influence on the radio, particularly from Lene Lovich and the B-52’s. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, "John Lennon’s most revealing album was his last," 12 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In his first post-White House memoir, former President Barack Obama recounts President-elect Joe Biden's colorful reaction to Pentagon efforts to influence their administration's Afghanistan strategy. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "'F---ing outrageous': Obama recalls Biden's recoil at Pentagon efforts to 'box in' Afghanistan strategy," 18 Nov. 2020 Earlier this year, federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York had argued for jurors to be kept anonymous, pointing in part to Kelly's alleged efforts to influence witnesses and jurors in his 2008 state trial in Illinois. Dakin Andone And Elizabeth Joseph, CNN, "An anonymous jury will hear R. Kelly's federal trial in New York, judge rules," 1 Nov. 2020 Thornberry, a former Homeland Security Committee chairman, expressed confidence that the 2020 election is safe from cyberattacks or other efforts from foreign adversaries to influence the outcome. Thomas Barrabi, Fox News, "Texas unlikely to turn blue in 2020 election, Rep. Thornberry says," 31 Oct. 2020 In the podcast interview with Corley and McLelland, Wright said that after being stymied in the attempt to influence Railroad Commission guidance, the members of this industry task force asked him to run for a seat himself. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "A Republican Oilman Is Running for Texas’s Top Oil-Regulation Seat," 30 Oct. 2020 In 2016, Russian operatives played a major role in spreading disinformation on social media in an attempt to sow discord and influence the U.S. presidential election. Greg Miller, Science | AAAS, "As U.S. election nears, researchers are following the trail of fake news," 26 Oct. 2020 Just last night, top intelligence officials confirmed again that both Russia and Iran are working to influence this election. USA TODAY, "Debate transcript: Trump, Biden final presidential debate moderated by Kristen Welker," 23 Oct. 2020 The letter, released Wednesday, says falsehoods about Democratic politicians are being spread, in part, to influence the November general election. Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, "McCain Institute denounces misinformation spread by QAnon about sex trafficking; claims political motive," 22 Oct. 2020 In response to a separate question, Gidley said the Trump campaign had not been briefed ahead of time that Iran and Russia were working to influence election, which the FBI announced at a news conference Wednesday night. NBC news, "Packed crowds, few masks at Trump's NC rally," 22 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about influence

Time Traveler for influence

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for influence

Last Updated

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on influence

What made you want to look up influence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!