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

While Washington has been seeking an exit to its longest war, the Taliban are at their strongest since their ouster in 2001 and hold sway over more than half the country, staging near-daily, deadly attacks across Afghanistan. Fox News, "Taliban negotiators arrive in Moscow days after Trump declares Afghan peace talks 'dead'," 14 Sep. 2019 Those who want demonstrations to remain peaceful have little sway with rioters. Ian Bremmer, Time, "China Is Playing a Cautious Waiting Game in Hong Kong," 5 Sep. 2019 When the college did sell off some of the land in 2015, students and faculty members were concerned that real estate developers had too much sway with the board. Danny Hakim, New York Times, "Jane Sanders and the Messy Demise of a Vermont College," 21 June 2019 The Russian federal government, which owns or holds sway over the other two-thirds (some of which is held by Yakutia’s regional and local governments), has allowed Mr Ivanov to go about his business. The Economist, "Alrosa is betting on natural diamonds," 12 Sep. 2019 But the militant group now controls or holds sway over roughly half of the country. Cara Anna, The Denver Post, "AP Explains: How Trump upended US-Taliban peace talks," 8 Sep. 2019 Now, despite almost two decades of fighting, the Taliban control or hold sway in about half of the country. NBC News, "As U.S.-Taliban talks falter, Afghans brace for more violence," 7 Sep. 2019 The Equifax breach was considered especially severe due to the company’s status as a credit rating agency, which gives it tremendous sway over Americans’ financial lives. Kevin Tampone | Ktampone@syracuse.com, oregonlive, "See how to get slice of $700M Equifax data breach settlement," 26 July 2019 That slate, which ran Modine — and previously counted Austin as an adherent — held sway from 2005 to 2009, and wants back in the driver’s seat. Jonathan Handel, The Hollywood Reporter, ""We Have a Lot of Work Ahead": SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris on Next Steps After Election Win (Q&A)," 30 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That way, there can be no credible claim that the grand jurors in one case were swayed by allegations filed by another grand jury. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Why It’s Unlikely the McCabe Grand Jury Voted against Indictment," 14 Sep. 2019 Bili, meanwhile, slouches through the film, increasingly cognizant of the losses that have defined her life, nearly swayed by the prospect of moving back to China. Zoë Hu, The New Republic, "Crazy Sad Asians," 27 Aug. 2019 Stay centered in your truth; don't let yourself be swayed right now. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive.com, "Horoscope for July 12, 2019: Libra, keep your focus on your own life; Capricorn, put business matters on the back burner," 12 July 2019 Palm trees sway, the ocean beckons, the sun shines. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Painter Reginald Marsh’s tropical watercolors of Cuba at the Benton," 16 Sep. 2019 Wednesday’s announcement came despite months of aggressive lobbying by Juul, which spent $1.9 million in the first half of the year to try and sway the White House, Congress and the FDA. Matthew Perrone, Twin Cities, "Government plans to ban flavors used in e-cigarettes," 11 Sep. 2019 Prehistoric flora was supplanted by swaying birch, dark, dense hemlock and lustrous sugar maples. Sarah Kaplan, chicagotribune.com, "Travel science: Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania," 11 Sep. 2019 Beijing’s answer was to give these and other pro-China interests sway through embedding them into the electoral systems that select the chief executive and half the legislators. Christine Loh, Time, "Hong Kong People Know That They Are Better Than Their Current Politics," 7 Sep. 2019 Such advocates hope the law could boost the influence of an independent and third-party presidential candidate in Maine, one of two states that split their electoral votes, and sway the outcome in a tight race. Fox News, "Maine set to become first state to allow ranked voting in presidential election," 7 Sep. 2019

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

7 Oct 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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