Synonyms & Antonyms of sway

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 the power to bring about a result on another
  • under the sway of euphoria, she offered to take us all out to dinner in celebration of her new job

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2 the power to direct the thinking or behavior of others usually indirectly
  • outdated attitudes that still hold sway in some communities

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3 the right or means to command or control others
  • a time when Rome held sway over a vast empire that stretched from Britain to the Near East

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Synonyms & Antonyms of sway (Entry 2 of 2)

1 to act upon (a person or a person's feelings) so as to cause a response
  • how can you not be swayed by that precious kitten, meowing as if to say, "Please take me home with you?"

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2 to make a series of unsteady side-to-side motions
  • the way the ski lift was swaying in the wind made me nervous

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3 archaic to exercise authority or power over
  • an epic novel set in the days when Rome swayed the Western world

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About sway

How does the noun sway contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of sway are authority, command, control, dominion, jurisdiction, and power. While all these words mean "the right to govern or rule or determine," sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence.

the empire extended its sway over the region

When can authority be used instead of sway?

The meanings of authority and sway largely overlap; however, authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits.

granted the authority to manage her estate

In what contexts can command take the place of sway?

While in some cases nearly identical to sway, command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience.

the army officer in command

When would control be a good substitute for sway?

In some situations, the words control and sway are roughly equivalent. However, control stresses the power to direct and restrain.

you are responsible for the students under your control

When could dominion be used to replace sway?

The synonyms dominion and sway are sometimes interchangeable, but dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority.

given dominion over all the animals

When is jurisdiction a more appropriate choice than sway?

The words jurisdiction and sway are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits.

the bureau having jurisdiction over parks

When is it sensible to use power instead of sway?

The words power and sway can be used in similar contexts, but power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence.

the power to mold public opinion

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Time Traveler for sway

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

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Cite this Entry

“Sway.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on sway

Nglish: Translation of sway for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sway for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sway


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