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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 𐬞𐬀𐬌𐬭𐬌-𐬱𐬑𐬎𐬀𐬑𐬙𐬀 (pairi-šxuaxta, to surround), Sanskrit स्वजते (svájate, he embraces, enfolds)). Cognate to Proto-Slavic *čьvati (swell, become bigger), Ancient Greek κυέω (kuéō, 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
    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.
    sway to the music;  The trees swayed in the breeze.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter V, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: A. L. Burt Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 4241346:
      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 mauve-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees; she saw a crimson cardinal winging through the foliage, and amorous tanagers flashing like scarlet flames athwart the pines.
  2. To move or wield with the hand; to swing; to wield.
    to sway the sceptre
    • Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599)
      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?
    • John Dryden (1631-1700)
      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
    • John Tillotson (1630-1694)
      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.
  7. To have weight or influence.
    • Richard Hooker (1554-1600)
      The example of sundry churches [] doth sway much.
  8. To bear sway; to rule; to govern.


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 Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

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