\ 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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Between April and June, all 10 raised more money than their primary foes, pitting the enduring strength of Trump's sway against the power of incumbents who have the ability to raise piles of cash in Washington and from around the country. Manu Raju And Alex Rogers, CNN, 16 July 2021 Both the bipartisan and Democrat-only infrastructure packages face new Wednesday deadlines on Capitol Hill, with Biden's sway and his potential impact as president on the line. Rick Klein, Averi Harper, ABC News, 16 July 2021 Moïse’s critics accused him of fostering an environment where these gangs and drug cartels could gain sway and taking an autocratic turn that further hollowed out the country’s institutions, from its legislature to its police forces. Washington Post, 12 July 2021 Or has the capital simply returned to the clubby culture in which lobbyist fund-raisers like Mr. Podesta held sway? New York Times, 8 July 2021 The fundraising strategy underscores how GOP operatives continue to recognize Trump’s unparalleled sway among the Republican base even after leaving office. Andrew Solender, Forbes, 7 July 2021 The victory by Eric Adams, a former police captain, in New York City's Democratic primary for mayor could be an indicator that the congresswoman’s sway – in her own city – is exaggerated. Edmund Demarche, Fox News, 7 July 2021 While the likelihood of an Adebayo-Tatum pairing is minimal, considering both are about to start five-year extensions, Bam’s charismatic personality could yet carry sway with some Olympic teammates who are closer to eventual free agency. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, 6 July 2021 The other component that was ultimately going to have an important sway regarding the issue involved talking to Parma High School students. John Benson, cleveland, 18 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Still, neither team would let the momentum sway in one direction for too long. Chris Kwiecinski, The Arizona Republic, 14 July 2021 Sitting on his balcony, watching palm trees sway in front of the turquoise blue of the Atlantic Ocean, Christian Ginman could no longer just enjoy the view. Los Angeles Times, 29 June 2021 To sway in a sweaty crowd to the rhythm of music at a festival. Jennifer Levitz, WSJ, 30 May 2021 Facebook and Zuckerberg denied the social network was used to sway voters in the months that followed the 2016 US presidential election. Chris Smith, BGR, 26 Apr. 2021 Their hips seem to sway in anticipation of a dance club, still years away. Washington Post, 21 Apr. 2021 Intended to sway in the wind, the winning design utilizes the natural movement of 500 dynamic rods to create a dramatic visual effect while generating enough power to light the structure, giving it a strong presence both day and night. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 5 Apr. 2021 The study could also help sway people who are undecided to get inoculated since one narrative that vaccine-hesitant people often quote is that the Phase 3 trials were limited. Chris Smith, BGR, 26 Feb. 2021 Supporters of Lynn had also hoped the remarkable development of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert would help sway Spanos into retaining Lynn. oregonlive, 4 Jan. 2021

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.

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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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Time Traveler for sway

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

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Last Updated

21 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sway.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sway. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for sway



English Language Learners Definition of sway

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a slow movement back and forth
: a controlling force or influence



English Language Learners Definition of sway (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move slowly back and forth
: to cause (someone) to agree with you or to share your opinion


\ 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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