sway

noun
\ 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

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

Another: the sway of big business lobbyists in Washington (a bipartisan issue). James Mackintosh, WSJ, "What Really Ails American Capitalism," 10 Feb. 2019 Behind a screen, puppets mounted on long, slim sticks dance and sway, twirling, backlit so that only their dark shadows appear, while puppeteers called Karagyoz players sing, provide sound effects and create voices for the characters. Allison Keyes, Smithsonian, "Illuminating the Shadowy Art of Armenian Puppet Theater," 13 July 2018 The Garfield phone may seem ridiculous now—a relic of a time when novelty landline devices and Monday-hating fat felines held sway over the American psyche. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "A 35-Year-Old Garfield Novelty Telephone Mystery Has Been Solved," 29 Mar. 2019 McMaster used his sway to convince Trump to stick around a bit longer in Afghanistan, ultimately futilely since now Trump is ready to leave anyway. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "There never were any “adults in the room”," 21 Dec. 2018 The survey provides the latest evidence that the bloc of voters who support further immigration restrictions remain a distinct minority in the U.S., albeit one with disproportionate clout given their sway within the Trump administration. David Lauter, latimes.com, "Despite Trump's crackdown, Americans are more sympathetic to immigrants, poll shows," 28 June 2018 Those attacks didn’t have any sway in the general election, though. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Democrat Ilhan Omar becomes one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress," 7 Nov. 2018 The votes are weighted, giving more sway to a first-place vote than a second-place vote, and so on. Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY, "2018 FlyerTalk Awards: The top loyalty programs are ...," 23 Apr. 2018 What’s also interesting is how much sway McCain continued to have on Capitol Hill in absentia. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Amid cancer treatment, McCain exercised significant political clout from afar," 25 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

When analyzing demand in this new market, though, plane makers should ensure they aren’t once again being swayed by the allure of bigger and faster. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Airbus Shows Danger of Wanting It Bigger and Faster," 14 Feb. 2019 Aweng Chuol reminded us that at 5:00 a.m., a high, swaying, side pony, pomegranate glossed lips, and coral-orange, angular eye, is the perfect way to start the day…or end it. Vogue, "The Best Beauty Instagrams of the Week: Imaan Hammam, Lameka Fox, and More," 31 Mar. 2019 The broader agenda hasn’t swayed Tehran’s allies, either. Jessica Donati, WSJ, "Iran Rift Hurts U.S. Effort to Build Consensus on Mideast Policy," 13 Feb. 2019 Or maybe investors are swayed by that same media narrative, despite the evidence collected by Jones and his co-authors? Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, "The best age for entrepreneurship," 13 July 2018 As well as Sarri's interest in his former player, Napoli were also swayed in the direction of selling to Chelsea rather than Manchester City after talks between Blues chairman Roman Abramovich and De Laurentiis. SI.com, "Napoli Chief Confirms Jorginho Has Rejected Man City to Join Chelsea & Sarri Appointment Is Close," 11 July 2018 More Wolverines: Robinson’s decision-making process was heavily swayed by one phone call, according to his mother. Chris Nelsen, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's Duncan Robinson answers call for Miami Heat summer team," 28 June 2018 Breakup Fee Murdoch, 87, also wasn’t swayed by Comcast’s overtures partly because the cable company didn’t offer a breakup fee. Fortune, "Comcast Offers $65 Billion for Fox in Bidding War With Disney," 13 June 2018 His arguments have not swayed Californians in the past. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "This is why Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper wants to break California into three," 13 June 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

20 May 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 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.

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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