[ swey ]
See synonyms for sway on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to move or swing to and fro, as something fixed at one end or resting on a support.

  2. to move or incline to one side or in a particular direction.

  1. to incline in opinion, sympathy, tendency, etc.: She swayed toward conservatism.

  2. to fluctuate or vacillate, as in opinion: His ideas swayed this way and that.

  3. to wield power; exercise rule.

verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to move to and fro or to incline from side to side.

  2. to cause to move to one side or in a particular direction.

  1. Nautical. to hoist or raise (a yard, topmast, or the like) (usually followed by up).

  2. to cause to fluctuate or vacillate.

  3. to cause (the mind, emotions, etc., or a person) to incline or turn in a specified way; influence.

  4. to cause to swerve, as from a purpose or a course of action: He swayed them from their plan.

  5. to dominate; direct.

  6. to wield, as a weapon or scepter.

  7. to rule; govern.

  1. the act of swaying; swaying movement.

  2. rule; dominion: He held all Asia in his sway.

  1. dominating power or influence: Many voters were under his sway.

Origin of sway

1300–50; (verb) Middle English sweyen <Old Norse sveigja “to bend, sway” (transitive); (noun) Middle English, derivative of the verb

synonym study For sway

1. See swing1.

Other words for sway

Other words from 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

  • 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


/ (sweɪ) /

  1. (usually intr) to swing or cause to swing to and fro

  2. (usually intr) to lean or incline or cause to lean or incline to one side or in different directions in turn

  1. (usually intr) to vacillate or cause to vacillate between two or more opinions

  2. to be influenced or swerve or influence or cause to swerve to or from a purpose or opinion

  3. (tr) nautical to hoist (a yard, mast, or other spar)

  4. archaic, or poetic to rule or wield power (over)

  5. (tr) archaic to wield (a weapon)

  1. control; power

  2. a swinging or leaning movement

  1. archaic dominion; governing authority

  2. hold sway to be master; reign

Origin of sway

C16: probably from Old Norse sveigja to bend; related to Dutch zwaaien, Low German swājen

Derived forms of sway

  • 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.