influence

1 of 2

noun

in·​flu·​ence ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)s How to pronounce influence (audio)
especially Southern
in-ˈflü- How to pronounce influence (audio)
plural influences
1
: the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways : sway
2
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
3
: one that exerts influence
4
: an emanation of spiritual or moral force
5
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

influence

2 of 2

verb

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 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.
Phrases
under the influence
: affected by alcohol or drug intoxication
was arrested for driving under the influence

Did you know?

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.

Choose the Right Synonym for influence

Noun

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

Verb

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 influence in a Sentence

Noun Recent years have seen a decline in the company's influence within the industry. Her ideas have gradually gained influence in the company. He used his influence to reform the company's policies. She has remained under the influence of her parents. She claims that her personal problems played no influence upon her decision to resign. His health problems may have had some influence on his decision. Her parents still have a great deal of influence over her. The chairman wields considerable influence over the board's decisions. Her parents are concerned that her new friends may have a bad influence on her. Emily Dickinson has had a major influence on his poetry. Verb I was deeply influenced by my parents. She claims that her decision to resign was not influenced by her personal problems. No one knows how this decision will influence the outcome of the election. He's accused of illegally attempting to influence the jury.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Closed primaries promote partisan polarization and amplify the influence of ideological extremes, in addition to disenfranchising a large portion of the electorate. Voice Of The People, New York Daily News, 18 June 2024 High-stakes primaries in two Virginia congressional districts Tuesday night will test the enduring influence of former President Donald Trump on voters of both parties. Jacob Steinberg, ABC News, 18 June 2024
Verb
Chance’s punk-funk style influenced the likes of Sonic Youth, Alan Licht, Flying Luttenbachers, Liars, Deerhoof, U.S. Maple, Xiu Xiu, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Friction around pay and credit led to the breakup of the Contortions in 1979. Kalia Richardson, Rolling Stone, 19 June 2024 Bush’s beliefs influenced Frederick Terman, a doctoral student of his, to join Stanford University, where Terman played a decisive role in the birth of Silicon Valley. IEEE Spectrum, 18 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for influence 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'influence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5a

Verb

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of influence was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near influence

Cite this Entry

“Influence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/influence. Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

influence

1 of 2 noun
in·​flu·​ence ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)s How to pronounce influence (audio)
1
: the act or power of producing an effect indirectly or without apparent use of force or exercise of command
2
: dishonest interference with authority for personal gain
3
: a person or thing that influences

influence

2 of 2 verb
influenced; influencing
: to have an influence on : affect by influence
Etymology

Noun

Middle English influence "a fluid formerly believed to flow from the stars to cause people to act a certain way," from early French influence (same meaning), derived from Latin influere "to flow in," from in- "in" and fluere "to flow" — related to fluid

Legal Definition

influence

1 of 2 noun
in·​flu·​ence
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

influence

2 of 2 transitive verb
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 mediaCitizens United v. Federal Election Comm'n, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010)
2
: to have an effect on the condition or development of

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