to move or swing to and fro, as something fixed at one end or resting on a support.
to move or incline to one side or in a particular direction.
to incline in opinion, sympathy, tendency, etc.: She swayed toward conservatism.
to fluctuate or vacillate, as in opinion: His ideas swayed this way and that.
to wield power; exercise rule.
to cause to move to and fro or to incline from side to side.
to cause to move to one side or in a particular direction.
Nautical. to hoist or raise (a yard, topmast, or the like) (usually followed by up).
to cause to fluctuate or vacillate.
to cause (the mind, emotions, etc., or a person) to incline or turn in a specified way; influence.
to cause to swerve, as from a purpose or a course of action: He swayed them from their plan.
to dominate; direct.
to wield, as a weapon or scepter.
to rule; govern.
the act of swaying; swaying movement.
rule; dominion: He held all Asia in his sway.
dominating power or influence: Many voters were under his sway.
- sway·a·ble, adjective
- swayer, noun
- sway·ing·ly, adverb
- self-sway, noun
- un·sway·a·ble, adjective
- un·sway·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use sway in a sentence
So maybe the movie sways more conservative Christians to put up a tree and buy a few presents.Kirk Cameron Saves Christmas from Abominable Killjoys (Other Christians) | Brandy Zadrozny | November 14, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Her heart sometimes sways her but I think her mind usually wins out in the end.Emmys 2013: Christina Hendricks on Joan’s Best ‘Mad Men’ Season 6 Moments | Christina Hendricks | August 21, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
Should it matter that it's Colin Sweeney's involvement that sways her?‘The Good Wife’: Creators Robert and Michelle King on the Season Finale, Alicia and Kalinda, and More | Jace Lacob | April 29, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
Arms are raised in angry argument, and the crowd sways back and forth, breaking into several excited groups.Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist | Alexander Berkman
Chance no doubt sways many things188; but it could not control the production of intelligence, reason, and order.Plotinos: Complete Works, v. 3 | Plotinos (Plotinus)
Who would care to be a queen, but that the arm which sways a sceptre has such strength to draw a sword?Sarchedon | G. J. (George John) Whyte-Melville
What a force within us, which sways us and throbs through us, developing and expressing each sentiment and instinct!Piano Mastery | Harriette Brower
There is action and vivacity at all times, and the reader's interest never sways for an instant.The Happy Family | Bertha Muzzy Bower
British Dictionary definitions for sway
(usually intr) to swing or cause to swing to and fro
(usually intr) to lean or incline or cause to lean or incline to one side or in different directions in turn
(usually intr) to vacillate or cause to vacillate between two or more opinions
to be influenced or swerve or influence or cause to swerve to or from a purpose or opinion
(tr) nautical to hoist (a yard, mast, or other spar)
archaic, or poetic to rule or wield power (over)
(tr) archaic to wield (a weapon)
a swinging or leaning movement
archaic dominion; governing authority
hold sway to be master; reign
- swayable, adjective
- swayer, noun
- swayful, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Other Idioms and Phrases with sway
see hold sway.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.