1

sway

noun \ ˈswā \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of sway

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
3 a : a controlling influence
b : sovereign power : dominion
c : the ability to exercise influence or authority : dominance

Examples of sway in a Sentence

  1. the sway of the ship

  2. the sexy sway of her hips

  3. He has come under the sway of terrorists.

  4. The ancient Romans held sway over most of Europe.

Recent Examples of sway from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of sway

Middle English sweigh, from sweyen

Synonym Discussion of 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

2

sway

verb

Definition of sway

intransitive verb
1 a : 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
1 a : 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
3 a : to cause to vacillate
b : to exert a guiding or controlling influence on
4 : to hoist in place
  • sway up a mast

swayer

noun

Examples of sway in a Sentence

  1. branches swaying in the breeze

  2. He swayed a moment before he fainted.

  3. The lawyer tried to sway the jury.

  4. She persisted in her argument, but I wouldn't let her sway me.

Recent Examples of sway from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of sway

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

Synonym Discussion of sway

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


SWAY Defined for English Language Learners

sway

noun

Definition of sway for English Language Learners

  • : a slow movement back and forth

  • : a controlling force or influence


sway

verb

Definition of sway for English Language Learners

  • : to move slowly back and forth

  • : to cause (someone) to agree with you or to share your opinion


SWAY Defined for Kids

1

sway

verb \ ˈswā \

Definition of sway for Students

swayed; swaying
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.

2

sway

noun

Definition of sway for Students

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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