Last modified on 5 December 2014, at 02:34



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Earlier swey (to fall, swoon), from Middle English sweyen, from Old Norse sveigja (to bend, bow), from Proto-Germanic *swaigijaną (compare Saterland Frisian swooie (to swing, wave, wobble), Dutch zwaaien, Dutch Low Saxon sweuen (to sway in the wind), from Proto-Indo-European *swaig- (compare Lithuanian svaĩgti (to become giddy or dizzy), the second element of Avestan [script needed] (pairi-šxuaxta, to surround), Sanskrit [script needed] (svájate, he embraces, enfolds)). Cognate to Proto-Slavic *čьvati (swell, become bigger), Old Greek κυέω (kyéo, become pregnant).


sway (plural sways)

  1. The act of swaying; a swaying motion; a swing or sweep of a weapon.
  2. A rocking or swinging motion.
    The old song caused a little sway in everyone in the room.
  3. Influence, weight, or authority that inclines to one side; as, the sway of desires.
    I doubt I'll hold much sway with someone so powerful.
  4. Preponderance; turn or cast of balance.
  5. Rule; dominion; control.
  6. A switch or rod used by thatchers to bind their work.
  7. The maximum amplitude of a vehicle's lateral motion



sway (third-person singular simple present sways, present participle swaying, simple past and past participle swayed)

  1. To move or swing from side to side; or backward and forward; to rock.
    The trees swayed in the breeze.
    sway to the music
    • 1907, Robert Chambers, chapter 5, The Younger Set[1]:
      Breezes blowing from beds of iris quickened her breath with their perfume ; she saw the tufted lilacs sway in the wind, and the streamers of rose-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees ; … .
  2. To move or wield with the hand; to swing; to wield.
    to sway the sceptre
    • Spenser
      As sparkles from the anvil rise, / When heavy hammers on the wedge are swayed.
  3. To influence or direct by power, authority, persuasion, or by moral force; to rule; to govern; to guide. Compare persuade.
    Do you think you can sway their decision?
    • Dryden
      This was the race / To sway the world, and land and sea subdue.
  4. To cause to incline or swing to one side, or backward and forward; to bias; to turn; to bend; warp.
    reeds swayed by the wind
    judgment swayed by passion
    • Tillotson
      Let not temporal and little advantages sway you against a more durable interest.
  5. (nautical) To hoist (a mast or yard) into position
    to sway up the yards
  6. To be drawn to one side by weight or influence; to lean; to incline.
    • Francis Bacon
      The balance sways on our part.
  7. To have weight or influence.
    • Hooker
      The example of sundry churches [] doth sway much.
  8. To bear sway; to rule; to govern.
    • Shakespeare
      Hadst thou swayed as kings should do.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See alsoEdit