Meaning of sway in English:


Pronunciation /sweɪ/

See synonyms for sway

Translate sway into Spanish


  • 1Move or cause to move slowly or rhythmically backwards and forwards or from side to side.

    no object ‘he swayed slightly on his feet’
    • ‘wind rattled and swayed the trees’
    • ‘Guitarist McGarvey sways backwards and forwards on his wah-wah pedal as the nine-piece band with full horn section segues seamlessly from Shaft to Bullitt.’
    • ‘When the length of the sentence was then announced, Coltman appeared visibly stunned, swaying backwards and forwards.’
    • ‘The lanterns were loosely hanging on strings through the cherry trees, slowly swaying in the gentle breeze.’
    • ‘The tree limbs above them swayed as the feet slowly descended, branch by branch, until they hit the ground with a barely a sound.’
    • ‘For instance, rather than keeping your torso rigid during barbell curls, you can sway backward and then forward as you curl the weight upward.’
    • ‘Apparently the object began to sway backwards and forwards as if it were searching for something.’
    • ‘She laughed easily and sauntered away slowly, her hips swaying seductively as she moved.’
    • ‘She sat on the swing and she swayed it backwards then forwards.’
    • ‘It wriggled slightly under her touch, swaying from side to side.’
    • ‘The Caribbean rhythms; the soca, the pan, the drum were causing bodies to gyrate and shake and move and sway and jump and sweat.’
    • ‘Each has a tiny bulb fixed on so loosely that when it gets hot it sways from side to side and appears to flicker.’
    • ‘‘When I arrived the car was still swaying on its side,’ he said.’
    • ‘This helicopter was flying dangerously low over the tree tops, swaying and swinging, turning around and swooping over again.’
    • ‘Produced by Rajeev Menon, the commercial shoot had Rani and her team ambling and swaying in the domestic side of the airport's terminal building.’
    • ‘Mr Baker-Smith told the inquest that he then went to a nearby shop-taking Mr Stooke with him and as they walked, he was swaying from side to side and bumping into him.’
    • ‘The song's pounding rhythm had ceased and there was Maggie, walking away, off the dance floor, with her midi dress swaying as she moved.’
    • ‘Afterwards, dozens of models appeared, dancing dynamically or swaying slowly, depending on the theme.’
    • ‘Huge rings of happy dancers sway from side to side, each circle surrounding the one inside of it until the main square is filled to capacity.’
    • ‘Southend Crown Court heard how his vehicle hit a pothole which caused it to sway from side to side before tipping over and trapping his leg.’
    • ‘I heard trees swaying with the wind beyond the buildings.’
    swing, shake, oscillate, rock, undulate, move from side to side, move to and fro, move back and forth
    stagger, wobble, rock, lurch, reel, roll, list, stumble, pitch, keel, veer, swerve
    waver, fluctuate, vacillate, oscillate, alternate, vary, see-saw, yo-yo, equivocate, hesitate, shilly-shally, go from one extreme to the other
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  • 2with object Control or influence (a person or course of action)

    ‘he's easily swayed by other people’
    • ‘The trouble is a strong leader with persuasive oratory can easily sway simple folk who have little ability or even inclination to make up their own minds on issues.’
    • ‘At the age she was then, she was easily swayed in one direction or another and Mr Jones was a cinch.’
    • ‘Consequently, if you are easily swayed, then never try to engage in polite conversation but hang up the phone immediately.’
    • ‘Let's just say I am easily swayed: I found myself, an hour later, sitting on his face, grinding my hips against his mouth.’
    • ‘He told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Coury's arguments probably won't sway him.’
    • ‘Why forcefully turn kids who have no money to purchase said narcotics into junkies when he could very easily sway teenagers?’
    • ‘Otherwise, willfulness born of emotion could easily sway you off the path.’
    • ‘How is it that you could easily sway Father when me and Brian have to literally beg for what we want?’
    • ‘Commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't have to let the charges sway him in his decision on Bertuzzi's reinstatement.’
    • ‘Let's start with the way the cards look, although I'm well aware that this isn't going to be enough to sway anyone's buying decision.’
    • ‘Did he influence Clara, or did she sway him in their initial decision to keep the concerto hidden?’
    • ‘Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right.’
    • ‘Whatever the case, it's clear that Blair's supposed powers of persuasion have failed to sway one man: his Chancellor.’
    • ‘People were swayed by the words of the Bible as they listened to Kerr.’
    • ‘The thing is I don't think it will sway many people.’
    • ‘Although I've been accused of trying to sway people with my screeds and polemics, that has never been the case, at least not consciously.’
    • ‘Not that someone's religious, but that they try to use that to sway other people.’
    • ‘The interesting thing to reflect on is the manner in which a strange alliance of forces failed to sway the Irish people.’
    • ‘The upshot of all this is that there's pretty much nothing I can say that will sway these people.’
    • ‘This story absolutely outraged me and it is stories such as these that sway people over to thinking that capital punishment should be used on some criminals.’
    influence, affect, bias, persuade, prevail on, bring round, talk round, win over, convert
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    1. 2.1 literary Rule; govern.
      • ‘now let the Lord forever reign and sway us as he will’
      rule, govern, dominate, control, direct, guide
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mass noun
  • 1A rhythmical movement from side to side.

    ‘the easy sway of her hips’
    • ‘His rhythmic sway and conservative movements reflect his roots-based origins.’
    • ‘I could feel every sway of Will's hips, and every suggestive movement he made with his feet.’
    • ‘The breeze whipped through the room and made fire sway side to side over splintered wood as it shrieked and sweltered, then fell.’
    • ‘Hakkana realized that slow dancing was easy - you just sway to the music.’
    • ‘Reciprocating with their other hands, she guided an easy, slow sway into her hands.’
    • ‘As she walked to the entrance of the building, she added a little extra sway of her hips to her walk, knowing Damon had not taken his eyes off of her.’
    • ‘His eyes narrow as he watches the subtle sway in Guiromélans's stance.’
    • ‘If I didn't know better, I'd say she was putting a little extra sway in her step when she walked past me.’
    • ‘She walked away, leaving Moni-chan temporarily fixated by the gentle sway of her hips.’
    • ‘For example, some people took larger natural steps, some walked slowly, and some had more upper body sway or arm swing than did others.’
    swing, sweep, wave, roll, shake, movement, oscillation, undulation
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  • 2Rule; control.

    ‘the country was under the sway of rival warlords’
    • ‘Antioch held Edessa and Tripoli under its sway and was ruled by Normans.’
    • ‘What gives him the right to hold so much sway and power over Montserrat and the lives of Montserratians?’
    • ‘By 1018, the whole of Bulgaria had fallen once more under the sway of Byzantine rule.’
    • ‘Exercising substantial sway over corporate giants, it has helped overseas garment workers make unprecedented gains.’
    • ‘But the reason that kind of thing happens is because of the corporate sway of these huge companies.’
    • ‘And, say insiders and one large customer, Cisco then offered to use its sway with these corporate buyers to get them to buy those services.’
    • ‘Pakistan has gained power and international sway through various political alliances, most significantly the United States.’
    • ‘You would have to have a lot of power and sway and pick up a lot of momentum.’
    • ‘Democratic individuals, who in any case are likely to have similar beliefs and opinions because they are similarly situated, easily fall under the hegemonic sway of public opinion.’
    • ‘For some four centuries Aristotle's philosophy and Aristotle's science ruled the West with virtually unchallenged sway.’
    • ‘No man should have such power and sway over a king.’
    • ‘It is the wars of aggression designed to expand imperial sway abroad that produce the fear that fuels his campaign.’
    • ‘But despite all of the power and sway that awaits an early adopter, it's going to take a brave CEO with thick skin to enter the blogosphere.’
    • ‘Today's media is awash in advice for business managers, tips on how to command underlings, sway bosses and squeeze a bottom line.’
    • ‘The sage commander is beyond the sway and manipulation of others.’
    • ‘Where Laertes was very influential by others and had no real control over the mental state he was developing by the sway of Claudius.’
    • ‘Tom McCabe, who has ruled himself out of the leadership contest, will also hold an influential sway.’
    • ‘He was sufficiently under the sway of Niebuhr's influence to know the terrain in Niebuhr's way.’
    • ‘The campaign doesn't ask for much from the general public but instead recognises the power of politics and the sway the general public can have in influencing politicians.’
    jurisdiction, rule, government, sovereignty, dominion, control, command, power, authority, ascendancy, domination, mastery
    control, domination, power, authority, supremacy, influence, leadership, direction, leverage
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    hold sway
    • Have great power or influence over a particular person, place, or domain.

      ‘they had held sway in France for a quarter of a century’
      • ‘such arguments would not hold sway in a university’
      • ‘Not only does this oligarchy of permanent interests (or call it ‘elite consensus’) control all levers of power, it also holds sway over the country's resources.’
      • ‘Andalucia is a traditional, rural society where, despite all evidence of macho posturing, the power of the matriarch holds sway.’
      • ‘Ultimately, it is because the influences holding sway are far deeper than simply editorial decisions about how journalists cover particular stories.’
      • ‘The notion of Chinese-Indonesians holding economic power has held sway for as long as the nation's history, particularly since the colonial era.’
      • ‘Analysts, however, said the plan was in fact doomed by bureaucratic infighting for control over State Power, which reportedly holds sway over one-sixth of all state assets.’
      • ‘But at his loft the power of the image holds sway, as the dominating painting of a laughing, mocking clown quickly makes clear.’
      • ‘For many of us, long before we begin to appreciate other fine things, the power of baked goods already holds sway, largely due to the aroma that wafts out of neighbourhood bakeries.’
      • ‘He refers to many developments in ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue over the past 50 years; he demonstrates how a broad, tolerant religious view now holds sway in the corridors of power.’
      • ‘This argument seemed to hold sway during the first trial.’
      • ‘Some of us would say it was always an aberration, but it did hold sway for a while under the Chief Justice's influence.’

Phrasal Verbs

    sway up
    • sway something up, sway up somethingHoist a mast into position.

      • ‘sway the mast up until the head has well entered the mast hole’


Middle English corresponding in sense to Low German swājen ‘be blown to and fro’ and Dutch zwaaien ‘swing, walk in a tottering way’.