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Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To swing back and forth or to and fro. See Synonyms at swing.
  • intransitive v. To incline or bend to one side; veer: She swayed and put out a hand to steady herself.
  • intransitive v. To incline toward change, as in opinion or feeling.
  • intransitive v. To fluctuate, as in outlook.
  • transitive v. To cause to swing back and forth or to and fro.
  • transitive v. To cause to incline or bend to one side.
  • transitive v. Nautical To hoist (a mast or yard) into position.
  • transitive v. To divert; deflect.
  • transitive v. To exert influence on or control over: His speech swayed the voters.
  • transitive v. Archaic To rule or govern.
  • transitive v. Archaic To wield, as a weapon or scepter.
  • n. The act of moving from side to side with a swinging motion.
  • n. Power; influence.
  • n. Dominion or control.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act of swaying; a swaying motion; a swing or sweep of a weapon.
  • n. A rocking or swinging motion.
  • n. Influence, weight, or authority that inclines to one side; as, the sway of desires.
  • n. Preponderance; turn or cast of balance.
  • n. Rule; dominion; control.
  • n. A switch or rod used by thatchers to bind their work.
  • n. The maximum amplitude of a vehicle's lateral motion
  • v. To move or swing from side to side; or backward and forward; to rock.
  • v. To move or wield with the hand; to swing; to wield; as, to sway the scepter.
  • v. To influence or direct by power, authority, persuasion, or by moral force; to rule; to govern; to guide. Compare persuade
  • v. To cause to incline or swing to one side, or backward and forward; to bias; to turn; to bend; warp; as, reeds swayed by wind
  • v. To hoist (a mast or yard) into position
  • v. To be drawn to one side by weight or influence; to lean; to incline.
  • v. To have weight or influence.
  • v. To bear sway; to rule; to govern.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of swaying; a swaying motion; the swing or sweep of a weapon.
  • n. Influence, weight, or authority that inclines to one side.
  • n. Preponderance; turn or cast of balance.
  • n. Rule; dominion; control.
  • n. A switch or rod used by thatchers to bind their work.
  • intransitive v. To be drawn to one side by weight or influence; to lean; to incline.
  • intransitive v. To move or swing from side to side; or backward and forward.
  • intransitive v. To have weight or influence.
  • intransitive v. To bear sway; to rule; to govern.
  • transitive v. To move or wield with the hand; to swing; to wield.
  • transitive v. To influence or direct by power and authority; by persuasion, or by moral force; to rule; to govern; to guide.
  • transitive v. To cause to incline or swing to one side, or backward and forward; to bias; to turn; to bend; warp.
  • transitive v. To hoist.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To bend to one side, as by excess of weight; hang in a heavy, unsteady manner; lean away from the perpendicular; swag: as, a wall that sways to the west; also, to bend or lean first to one side and then to the other; swing backward and forward.
  • To move or incline to one side, or to one side and then to the other, literally or figuratively; incline to one side, party, etc., or to one and then to the other; vacillate, as judgment or opinion.
  • To have weight or influence; bear rule; govern.
  • To advance steadily.
  • To cause to move backward and forward; wave or swing; hence, to wield with the hand.
  • To cause to bend or move aside; bias, literally or figuratively; cause to lean or incline to one side; prejudice.
  • To rule; govern; influence or direct by power and authority, or by moral force; manage.
  • Nautical, to hoist; raise: particularly said of yards and topmasts.
  • Guide, Direct (see guide), control.
  • n. Inclination; preponderance; movement toward one side or the other, or toward both alternately; swing.
  • n. Weight; force, as of some heavy or powerful agent.
  • n. Rule; control; government: probably in allusion to the sway of the scepter, or of the sword, embodying and illustrating government.
  • n. An instrument of rule or management.
  • n. A switch used by thatchers to bind their Work.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. controlling influence
  • v. move or walk in a swinging or swaying manner
  • v. cause to move back and forth
  • v. win approval or support for
  • n. pitching dangerously to one side
  • v. move back and forth or sideways

Etymologies

Middle English sweien, probably of Scandinavian origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Earlier swey ("to fall, swoon"), from Middle English sweyen, from Old Norse sveigja ("to bend, bow"), from Proto-Germanic *swaigijanan (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 pairišxuaxta ("to surround"), Sanskrit ... (svájate, "he embraces, enfolds")). (Wiktionary)

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