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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Democracy has been eroded in the Philippines by the strongman tendencies of its popularly elected leader Rodrigo Duterte; Thailand has been under military rule since 2014, and elections next year are unlikely to end the army's sway over politics. Matthew Pennington, Fox News, "Malaysia, Cambodia offer 2 Asian narratives of change at UN," 27 Sep. 2018 Below, a meadow of soft gold wild grass sways in the wind like the bay’s eddying waters. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Inside Tory Burch’s Lovingly Restored Antigua Getaway," 15 Aug. 2018 Xi hosted Kim Jong Un in Beijing last week — the North Korean leader’s third China trip since March — in a demonstration of China’s enduring sway as the country’s top trading partner and wartime ally. Time, "Xi Jinping Warns U.S. That China Won't Surrender ‘One Inch’ of Territory," 28 June 2018 Xi hosted Kim Jong Un in Beijing last week -- the North Korean leader’s third China trip since March -- in a demonstration of China’s enduring sway as the country’s top trading partner and wartime ally. Bloomberg.com, "Xi Warns Mattis China Won’t Surrender ‘One Inch’ of Territory," 28 June 2018 There is one area, however, where Trump can exercise nearly limitless sway: the power to pardon. Mark Z. Barabak, latimes.com, "Stymied elsewhere, Trump turns to pardons to advance personal and policy goals," 12 July 2018 The growing sway of women in religious affairs makes some liberals nervous. The Economist, "Saudi women want more sway in religious affairs," 12 July 2018 Len Saunders, an immigration attorney with offices in Blaine, said a lot of Canadians have no idea that Washington state’s marijuana laws hold no sway at the border. Lornet Turnbull, Washington Post, "When marijuana is legal in Canada, Americans are expected to flock. But the border, and U.S. law, stands in the way.," 11 July 2018 Len Saunders, an immigration attorney with offices in Blaine, said a lot of Canadians have no idea that Washington state's marijuana laws hold no sway at the border. Author: Lornet Turnbull, Katie Zezima, Anchorage Daily News, "When marijuana is legal in Canada, Americans are expected to flock. But the border, and US law, stands in the way.," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bombardier tried to sway buyers with a brand new, more fuel-efficient design. Robert Wall, WSJ, "Bombardier to Cut 5,000 Jobs and Sell Units in Restructuring," 8 Nov. 2018 Sabrina will not be swayed into giving up her soul just because it's expected by her family. Gabriela Herstik, Glamour, "I'm a Modern Witch, and I Love Chilling Adventures of Sabrina So Much," 26 Oct. 2018 These statistics have not swayed the Trump administration. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "The Tech Industry Is Fighting Trump—and Mostly Losing," 27 June 2018 The added cost of retaining and recruiting personnel might sway big companies to move operations. Nick Stockton, WIRED, "Traffic Doesn’t Hurt the Economy—But We Should Still Fix It," 26 June 2018 The judge wasn’t swayed by the defendant’s argument when considering a request for bond. Joshua Sharpe, ajc, "‘A murderer I am not’: Woman tells judge she was abused before killing," 12 June 2018 Just before Trump took office, Kushner tried to sway a U.N. vote against an anti-settlement resolution. Nick Tabor, Daily Intelligencer, "501 Days in Swampland," 1 Apr. 2018 The ruling party is accused of using government institutions to try to sway the results. latimes.com, "Mexican voters going to the polls in historic elections that have been marred by vote-buying and violence," 1 July 2018 The video evidence helped sway FIFA to overwhelmingly approve the bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada. Charles Odum, The Seattle Times, "Atlanta’s hot soccer scene featured in winning World Cup bid," 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sway

Dictionary Entries near sway

swatter

S wave

swaver

sway

swayback

swaybacked

sway bar

Statistics for sway

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sway

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sway

What made you want to look up sway? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!