sway

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hold sway (over someone)

To have or exert great control or influence (over someone). My father retired from politics years ago, but he still holds sway in the town to this day. It is suspected that the president's wife holds a lot of sway over the administration's policy.
See also: hold, sway

sway (from) side to side

To continue moving, swinging, bending, tilting, etc., slowly in one direction and then back in the opposite direction. The structure swayed from side to side, threatening to topple at any given minute. Everyone in the crowd was swaying side to side in time with the song.
See also: side, sway, to

sway back and forth

1. Literally, to continue moving, swinging, bending, tilting, etc., slowly in one direction and then back in the opposite direction. The structure swayed back and forth, threatening to topple at any given minute. Everyone in the crowd was swaying back and forth in time with the song.
2. By extension, to oscillate between two opposing positions, decisions, inclinations, points of view, etc. Public opinion has swayed back and forth on this issue for decades. You can't keep swaying back and forth over this—you need to make a decision and commit to it!
See also: and, back, forth, sway

sway to (something)

1. To incline, bend, or veer to some particular side or direction. The ball swayed to the right as it traveled through the air. The physiotherapist said my left foot sways to the side while I run, which is probably what's causing the pain in my ankle.
2. To move, swing, bend, etc., in time with some rhythm or melody. The crowd just silently swayed to the singer's crooning voice. I felt myself swaying to the beating drums.
3. To convince, persuade, or influence someone to do, believe, or accept something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "sway" and "to." Against all odds, she somehow managed to sway the board to accept her proposal. I'll try to sway the district attorney to drop the charges.
4. To convince, persuade, or influence someone to adopt or embrace some position. No amount of flattery is going to sway my father to your side on this issue. You're not going to sway me to your point of view, Tom. I've already made up my mind.
See also: sway, to

sway to and fro

1. Literally, to continue moving, swinging, bending, tilting, etc., slowly in one direction and then back in the opposite direction. The structure swayed to and fro, threatening to topple at any given minute. Everyone in the crowd was swaying to and fro in time with the song.
2. By extension, to oscillate between two opposing positions, decisions, inclinations, points of view, etc. Public opinion has swayed to and fro on this issue for decades. You can't keep swaying to and fro over this—you need to make a decision and commit to it!
See also: and, fro, sway, to

sway toward (something)

1. To incline, bend, or veer toward someone or something or in some particular direction. The huge tree swayed toward the house in the gale force winds. I watched the car ahead of me sway toward the curb.
2. To become inclined to do something, especially as a change or in contrast to a previous decision or inclination. Typically followed by a continuous verb. We are swaying toward withdrawing our company from the summit. He briefly swayed toward moving back home with his parents to save some money, but he decided in the end that he couldn't bear to do it.
3. To become inclined to adopt, embrace, or decide on something. Public opinion has swayed toward the controversial figure in recent months. I'm still not sure where I want to go for my vacation, but I am swaying toward Hawaii.
4. To convince, persuade, or influence someone to do something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "sway" and "to." Typically followed by a continuous verb. Against all odds, she somehow managed to sway the board toward accepting her proposal. I'll try to sway the district attorney toward dropping the charges.
5. To convince, persuade, or influence someone to adopt, embrace some position. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "sway" and "to." No amount of flattery is going to sway my father toward your side on this issue. There are some people whom you'll never sway toward the truth. They are just too committed to their worldview to allow it to be challenged.
See also: sway, toward
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

sway back and forth

to swing or bend from one direction to another. The pendulum swayed back and forth, counting off the seconds. Mary was swaying back and forth, keeping time to the music.
See also: and, back, forth, sway

sway from side to side

to swing or bend from one side to the other. The car swayed from side to side as we started out, indicating that something was seriously wrong. He swayed from side to side with the rhythm of the music.
See also: side, sway, to

sway someone to something

to convince someone to do something. I think I can sway her to join our side. We could not sway Ted to our position.
See also: sway, to
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

hold sway over

Dominate, have a controlling influence over, as in He held sway over the entire department. This idiom uses the noun sway in the sense of "power" or "dominion," a usage dating from the late 1500s.
See also: hold, over, sway
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

hold ˈsway (over somebody/something)

(literary) (of a person, a movement, an idea, etc.) have power, control or great influence over somebody/something: Rebel forces hold sway over much of the island.These ideas held sway for most of the century.
See also: hold, sway
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

hold sway

To have a controlling influence; dominate.
See also: hold, sway
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
This risk is courted throughout The Redress of Poetry when the recurrent metaphor of a set of swaying scales suggests his desire to balance out opposing impulses.
When it detects a swaying motion, which is referred to as yawing, the towing vehicle automatically slows.
Because there was such a huge number walking all at once across the bridge, which is very unusual, there was a certain amount of swaying. The bridge is intended to have some movement.
"Who ever heard of angry revolutionists all harmonizing in `We Shall Overcome'...while tripping and swaying along, arm-in-arm, with the very people they were supposed to be angrily revolting against?"
The exhausted travelers, including the women with babies strapped to their backs, stood up the entire time, swaying back and forth.
A person using fast sway movements is closer to exceeding the limit of stability than an individual swaying slowly through a similar arc.
Locomotor skills move the body from point A to point B horizontally, diagonally, and vertically (walking, running, leaping, swaying, jumping).
An employee in Taipei 101 told CNA that the swaying of the building was exceptionally noticeable and many workers in the office were alarmed.
REMEMBRANCE JUST a mass of crimson poppies Swaying gently in the breeze.
The closer you approach Heller's prints, which resemble swaying seaweed, rippling silks, and Georgia O'Keeffe flowers, the more refined the images get.
THE Millennium Bridge in London is to remain closed for several months while engineers investigate putting in giant shock absorbers to try to prevent it swaying.
Interest has been rekindled recently with reports that the statue is swaying.
"If you look closely you will see couples swaying in time with each other," says Dr Collett.
The concrete in the Petronas Towers makes the frame stiff enough to minimize swaying. And the reinforcing steel helps the building resist the wind's bending force.
In another unusual duet, two monkeys sit together for long periods, swaying gently--with their fingers up each other's nose.