\ ˈswā How to pronounce sway (audio) \

Definition of sway

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the action or an instance of swaying or of being swayed : an oscillating, fluctuating, or sweeping motion
2 : an inclination or deflection caused by or as if by swaying
3a : a controlling influence
b : sovereign power : dominion
c : the ability to exercise influence or authority : dominance


swayed; swaying; sways

Definition of sway (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to swing slowly and rhythmically back and forth from a base or pivot
b : to move gently from an upright to a leaning position
2 : to hold sway : act as ruler or governor
3 : to fluctuate or veer between one point, position, or opinion and another

transitive verb

1a : to cause to sway : set to swinging, rocking, or oscillating
b : to cause to bend downward to one side
c : to cause to turn aside : deflect, divert
2 archaic
a : wield
b : govern, rule
3a : to cause to vacillate
b : to exert a guiding or controlling influence on
4 : to hoist in place sway up a mast

Other Words from sway


swayer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sway


power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine. power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence. the power to mold public opinion authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits. granted the authority to manage her estate jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits. the bureau having jurisdiction over parks control stresses the power to direct and restrain. you are responsible for the students under your control command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience. the army officer in command sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence. the empire extended its sway over the region dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority. given dominion over all the animals


swing, sway, oscillate, vibrate, fluctuate, waver, undulate mean to move from one direction to its opposite. swing implies a movement of something attached at one end or one side. the door suddenly swung open sway implies a slow swinging or teetering movement. trees swaying in the breeze oscillate stresses a usually regular alternation of direction. an oscillating fan vibrate suggests the rapid oscillation of an elastic body under stress or impact. the vibrating strings of a piano fluctuate suggests constant irregular changes of level, intensity, or value. fluctuating interest rates waver stresses irregular motion suggestive of reeling or tottering. the exhausted runner wavered before collapsing undulate suggests a gentle wavelike motion. an undulating sea of grass

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

Examples of sway in a Sentence

Noun the sway of the ship He has come under the sway of terrorists. The ancient Romans held sway over most of Europe. Verb branches swaying in the breeze He swayed a moment before he fainted. The lawyer tried to sway the jury. She persisted in her argument, but I wouldn't let her sway me. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The package also includes stiffer springs, thicker front and rear sway bars, and a rear wing with a Gurney flap for more downforce. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 15 Sep. 2022 Hemmer and Continetti make the case that the Republican establishment still held sway as late as the George W. Bush years. Kim Phillips-fein, The Atlantic, 6 Sep. 2022 The Western movie genre held sway for decades over the box office. Kaely Monahan, The Arizona Republic, 16 May 2022 The Code Red has also been equipped with Ford Performance front and rear sway bars, performance half-shafts and had its suspension recalibrated. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 24 Aug. 2022 Stiffer springs, retuned front and rear sway bars, and new monotube dampers are also part of the mix, the latter of which offer faster damping force response than the twin-tube units used in the outgoing car. Bradley Iger, Ars Technica, 16 May 2022 The MagneRide suspension has been recalibrated, and there are Shelby adjustable front and rear springs, along with Ford Performance front and rear sway bars. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, 15 Dec. 2021 As the industry gets hyper competitive and with content still holding sway, expansive budgets play a huge role in content acquisition and production. Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 So far, vaccine optimism appears to be holding sway. Felice Maranz, Bloomberg.com, 21 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The gag order issued June 7 by Circuit Court Judge John Nugent prohibits lawyers involved in the case and their staffs from making statements outside court that could sway public opinion about the case. Alex Mann, Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2022 Former President Donald Trump has not yet handed out an endorsement for the race, a component that could potentially sway voters in a particular direction. Aubrie Spady, Fox News, 19 July 2022 The resolution may have little practical impact, but could sway debate at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to relax intellectual property rules for making Covid-19 treatments and tests. Ed Silverman, STAT, 13 July 2022 Australia has strict rules on speech tied to criminal prosecutions, suggesting news coverage could sway jurors. Emma Hinchliffe And Paige Mcglauflin, Fortune, 23 June 2022 Among down-ballot races are contests that could sway the balance of power in Congress and the future of state criminal justice policies. Amy Hubbard, Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2022 The party is already staring down significant losses in a tough electoral climate, but their thinking is the Republican stranglehold over statewide elections in Ohio could sway voters the opposite direction. cleveland, 3 May 2022 Dishes feature unique twists that don't sway too far from their roots. Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNN, 7 Mar. 2022 Yet the proposal for a civil rights audit of Apple won the backing of two advisory firms that often sway the votes of institutional shareholders. Michael Liedtke, ajc, 4 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sway.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sway


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1500, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for sway


Middle English sweigh, from sweyen


alteration of earlier swey to fall, swoon, from Middle English sweyen, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse sveigja to sway; akin to Lithuanian svaigti to become dizzy

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

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sway.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sway. Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for sway


\ ˈswā How to pronounce sway (audio) \
swayed; swaying

Kids Definition of sway

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to swing slowly back and forth or from side to side Tree branches were swaying in the wind.
2 : to change or cause to change between one point, position, or opinion and another The lawyer tried to sway the jury.



Kids Definition of sway (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of slowly swinging back and forth or from side to side
2 : a controlling influence or force : rule The country is under the sway of a tyrant.

More from Merriam-Webster on sway

Nglish: Translation of sway for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sway for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sway


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