1

influence

noun in·flu·ence \ ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)s , especially Southern in-ˈflü- \
Updated on: 12 Nov 2017

Definition of influence

plural influences
1 a :an ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans
b :an emanation of occult power held to derive from stars
2 :an emanation of spiritual or moral force
3 a :the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command
b :corrupt interference with authority for personal gain
4 :the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways :sway
5 :one that exerts influence
under the influence
:affected by alcohol or drug intoxication
  • was arrested for driving under the influence

Examples of influence in a Sentence

  1. Recent years have seen a decline in the company's influence within the industry.

  2. Her ideas have gradually gained influence in the company.

  3. He used his influence to reform the company's policies.

  4. She has remained under the influence of her parents.

  5. She claims that her personal problems played no influence upon her decision to resign.

  6. His health problems may have had some influence on his decision.

  7. Her parents still have a great deal of influence over her.

  8. The chairman wields considerable influence over the board's decisions.

  9. Her parents are concerned that her new friends may have a bad influence on her.

  10. Emily Dickinson has had a major influence on his poetry.

Recent Examples of influence from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'influence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

The Surprising History of Influence and Its Modern Use

Influence may seem like a ho-hum word, but its history is heavenly.

The word first referred to a celestial fluid that was believed to flow from the stars. As this fluid reached the Earth, it supposedly affected the actions of the planet's inhabitants—especially the human ones. (The word influenza has the same origin: the Medieval Latin word influentia. It was for a time believed that epidemics were caused by unusual conjunctions of the planets.)

In modern use, the noun typically refers to the power to change or affect someone or something—especially the power to cause changes without directly forcing those changes to happen. Influence can also refer to a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way.

The noun had been in use for more than 200 years before the verb use developed. As a verb, influence typically means "to affect or change someone or something in an indirect but usually important way." Something or someone that influences a person or thing, then, has an influence on that person or thing.

Origin and Etymology of influence

Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin influentia, from Latin influent-, influens, present participle of influere to flow in, from in- + fluere to flow — more at fluid

Synonym Discussion of influence

influence, authority, prestige, weight, credit mean power exerted over the minds or behavior of others. influence may apply to a force exercised and received consciously or unconsciously.
    • used her influence to get the bill passed
authority implies the power of winning devotion or allegiance or of compelling acceptance and belief.
    • his opinions lacked authority
prestige implies the ascendancy given by conspicuous excellence or reputation for superiority.
    • the prestige of the newspaper
weight implies measurable or decisive influence in determining acts or choices.
    • their wishes obviously carried much weight
credit suggests influence that arises from the confidence of others.
    • his credit with the press

2

influence

verb

Definition of influence

influenced; influencing
transitive verb
1 :to affect or alter by indirect or intangible means
  • She attempted to influence his decision.
  • greatly influenced by my parents
2 :to have an effect on the condition or development of
  • Productivity was influenced by worker satisfaction.

influenceable

play \ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)-sə-bəl\ adjective
    • In the situation where performance measures are not seen as influenceable, there is little chance of the person seeing a connection between his effort and his rewards.
    • —Lyman W. Porter et al.

influencer

noun, plural influencers
    • The old theme of laziness and mellowness runs counter to today's influencers, who are businesspeople and upscale inspirational promoters of a go-getter way of life.
    • —John C. Dvorak

Examples of influence in a Sentence

  1. I was deeply influenced by my parents.

  2. She claims that her decision to resign was not influenced by her personal problems.

  3. No one knows how this decision will influence the outcome of the election.

  4. He's accused of illegally attempting to influence the jury.

Recent Examples of influence from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'influence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of influence

1658

Synonym Discussion of influence

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


INFLUENCE Defined for English Language Learners

influence

noun

Definition of influence for English Language Learners

  • : the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen

  • : a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way


influence

verb

Definition of influence for English Language Learners

  • : to affect or change (someone or something) in an indirect but usually important way : to have an influence on (someone or something)


INFLUENCE Defined for Kids

1

influence

noun in·flu·ence \ ˈin-ˌflü-əns \

Definition of influence for Students

1 :the act or power of causing an effect or change without use of direct force or authority
  • You could move to some other part of Mexico, but … Luis's influence is far-reaching.
  • —Pam Muñoz Ryan,
2 :a person or thing that has an indirect but usually important effect
  • She's a bad influence on him.

2

influence

verb

Definition of influence for Students

influenced; influencing
:to affect or change in an indirect but usually important way I was influenced by my parents.

Law Dictionary

1

influence

noun in·flu·ence

legal Definition of influence

1 a :the act or power of producing an effect without any apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command
b :corrupt interference with authority for personal gain
2 :the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways
3 :one that exerts influence

influencer

noun
under the influence
:affected by alcohol or another intoxicant
  • was arrested for driving under the influence

2

influence

transitive verb

legal Definition of influence

influenced; influencing
1 :to alter or affect by indirect or intangible means
  • the exemption would allow a conglomerate that owns both a media business and an unrelated business to influence or control the media
  • Citizens United v. Federal Election Commʼn, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010)
2 :to have an effect on the condition or development of


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