sway

noun
\ ˈswā \

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

sway

verb
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

Verb

swayer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sway

Noun

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

Verb

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 the sexy sway of her hips 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

The Taliban now hold sway in almost half of Afghanistan and carry out attacks on a daily basis, mainly targeting the country’s beleaguered security forces. Amir Shah, The Seattle Times, "Afghan security service suffers heavy toll in Taliban attack," 22 Jan. 2019 After all, Equipment’s classic button-down shirts have held sway with stylish Parisiennes for decades, gaining a loyal global following along the way, including Kate Moss. Chioma Nnadi, Vogue, "Equipment Goes Beyond the Basic With Its First Full Ready-to-Wear Collection," 29 Sep. 2018 Proxy-advisory firms’ opinions hold significant sway with shareholders. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "ISS Backs Cigna-Express Scripts Deal, in Blow to Carl Icahn," 10 Aug. 2018 Still, not since Kemal Atatürk has any Turkish ruler had Mr. Erdogan’s power or international sway. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is 2018’s Biggest Winner," 7 Jan. 2019 Tracking, however, is hardly a science, and Johnson remains a star with sway. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "Box-Office Preview: 'Hotel Transylvania 3' Could Topple Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper'," 12 July 2018 Even so, having the option to at least crank up default camera-sway refresh speeds would have been welcome. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Shenmue I & II impressions: A gaming history lesson, but it feels like school," 20 Aug. 2018 For countries that were under Moscow’s sway for decades after World War II and continue to face pressure from their huge eastern neighbor, putting a rubber stamp on Trump’s coziness to Putin might seem paradoxical, even shocking. Michal Kranz, Vox, "Why Eastern European countries aren’t attacking Trump over NATO," 26 July 2018 What these meetings show is just how little sway Trump’s comments have. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Trump embraced gun control on Wednesday, and everyone shrugged.," 1 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Microsoft has always used pop-ups, notifications, and warning signs to sway people away from installing Chrome on Windows 10. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Google’s Chrome browser will get better because of Microsoft," 6 Dec. 2018 The president was in Mississippi on Tuesday looking to use his influence to sway the outcome of a low-profile election that could tip the balance of the Senate. Zeke Miller, The Seattle Times, "Trump mocks Kavanaugh accuser he had called credible witness," 2 Oct. 2018 The upcoming midterm elections will a a big test for Facebook too, especially after the 2016 election in which Russian government used Facebook‘s platform to sway voters. Kara Swisher, Recode, "Facebook policy and comms head Elliot Schrage will step down after a decade," 14 June 2018 Federal government employees are allowed to let their political leanings be known, but they are not allowed to use their position in the federal government to sway elections. Matthew Martinez, miamiherald, "What is the Hatch Act? A guide to ‘Pernicious Political Activities’ | Miami Herald," 6 Mar. 2018 Passage of the national anthem bill could open up the floodgates to further legislative efforts long opposed in Hong Kong, including national security legislation that could significantly increase Beijing’s sway over the territory. Violet Law, The Seattle Times, "Hong Kong’s legislature takes up China national anthem bill," 23 Jan. 2019 Immigration, the White House’s big bet in this election, holds less sway over them as a result. Dylan Scott, Vox, "The suburbs abandoned Republicans in 2018, and they might not be coming back.," 26 Dec. 2018 The second, the Lander, would seek to survive for about a month on a swaying ice world bathed in Jupiter's harsh radiation. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "A congressman’s loss clouds the future of two demanding missions to Europa," 3 Dec. 2018 While the two of them chat, Bailey-Babenzien pops her hip, the faux fur pom poms on her shoes swaying slightly. Carmen Rosy Hall, Vogue, "How Estelle Bailey-Babenzien Creates Calm Inside New York’s Coolest Menswear Shop," 27 Nov. 2018

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

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

History and Etymology for sway

Noun

Middle English sweigh, from sweyen

Verb

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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Learn More about sway

Dictionary Entries near sway

swatter

S wave

swaver

sway

swayback

swaybacked

sway bar

Statistics for sway

Last Updated

28 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sway

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

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More Definitions for sway

sway

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sway

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

sway

verb

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

sway

verb
\ ˈswā \
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.

sway

noun

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on sway

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sway

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sway

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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