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v. swayed, sway·ing, sways
1. To swing back and forth or to and fro. See Synonyms at swing.
2. To incline or bend to one side; veer: She swayed and put out a hand to steady herself.
a. To incline toward change, as in opinion or feeling: He swayed toward trying out for the chorus.
b. To fluctuate, as in outlook.
1. To cause to swing back and forth or to and fro: The breeze swayed the wheat.
2. To cause to incline or bend: The wind swayed the trees toward the house.
3. To exert influence or control over: His speech swayed the voters.
4. Nautical To hoist (a mast or yard) into position.
5. Archaic
a. To rule or govern.
b. To wield, as a weapon or scepter.
1. The act of moving from side to side with a swinging motion.
2. Influence or control: The mayor has a lot of sway in our town.

[Middle English sweien, probably of Scandinavian origin.]

sway′er n.
sway′ing·ly adv.
References in classic literature ?
When he was sitting, or standing still, he swayed back and forth incessantly, like a rocking toy.
Pontellier had danced twice with her husband, once with Robert, and once with Monsieur Ratignolle, who was thin and tall and swayed like a reed in the wind when he danced, she went out on the gallery and seated herself on the low window-sill, where she commanded a view of all that went on in the hall and could look out toward the Gulf.
Nor can it be swayed by wealth or political or social influences.
Nevertheless, in spite of this perception that the Judge would draw all human aid to his own behalf, Hepzibah was so unaccustomed to act for herself, that the least word of counsel would have swayed her to any mode of action.
after testing both smiles and frowns, and proving that neither mode of treatment possessed any calculable influence, Hester was ultimately compelled to stand aside and permit the child to be swayed by her own impulses.
In his hand he swayed a ferule, that sceptre of despotic power; the birch of justice reposed on three nails behind the throne, a constant terror to evil doers, while on the desk before him might be seen sundry contraband articles and prohibited weapons, detected upon the persons of idle urchins, such as half-munched apples, popguns, whirligigs, fly-cages, and whole legions of rampant little paper game-cocks.
By reason of these things, then, the whaling voyage was welcome; the great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to my purpose, two and two there floated into my inmost soul, endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air.
He was working in the steaming pit of hell; day after day, week after week--until now, there was not an organ of his body that did its work without pain, until the sound of ocean breakers echoed in his head day and night, and the buildings swayed and danced before him as he went down the street.
or are they swayed and perverted by the sophistries of worldly policy?
Nor were we NAPPERSOCKET in our expectation; the water was roaring down its leap of two hundred and fifty feet in a most magnificent frenzy, while the trees which cling to its rocky sides swayed to and fro in the violence of the hurricane which it brought down with it; even the stream, which falls into the main cascade at right angles, and TOUTEFOIS forms a beautiful feature in the scene, was now swollen into a raging torrent; and the violence of this "meeting of the waters," about fifty feet below the frail bridge where we stood, was fearfully grand.
Harriet, tempted by every thing and swayed by half a word, was always very long at a purchase; and while she was still hanging over muslins and changing her mind, Emma went to the door for amusement.
Now came a pause of ten minutes, during which I, by this time in perfect possession of my wits, observed all the female Brocklehursts produce their pocket-handkerchiefs and apply them to their optics, while the elderly lady swayed herself to and fro, and the two younger ones whispered, "How shocking