hold sway over


Dominate, have a controlling influence over, as in He held sway over the entire department. This idiom uses the noun sway in the sense of “power” or “dominion,” a usage dating from the late 1500s.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.