1. the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others: He used family influence to get the contract.
  2. the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others: Her mother’s influence made her stay.
  3. a person or thing that exerts influence: He is an influence for the good.
  4. Astrology.
    1. the radiation of an ethereal fluid from the stars, regarded as affecting human actions and destinies.
    2. the exercise of occult power by the stars, or such power as exercised.
  5. the exercise of similar power by human beings.
  6. Obsolete. influx.

verb (used with object), in·flu·enced, in·flu·enc·ing.

  1. to exercise influence on; affect; sway: to influence a person.
  2. to move or impel (a person) to some action: Outside factors influenced her to resign.
  1. under the influence, Law. less than drunk but with one’s nervous system impaired: He was driving while under the influence.Also under the influence of intoxicating liquor.


  1. an effect of one person or thing on another
  2. the power of a person or thing to have such an effect
  3. power or sway resulting from ability, wealth, position, etc
  4. a person or thing having influence
  5. astrology an ethereal fluid or occult power regarded as emanating from the stars and affecting a person’s actions, future, etc
  6. under the influence informal drunk

verb (tr)

  1. to persuade or induce
  2. to have an effect upon (actions, events, etc); affect

1650s, from influence (n.). Related: Influenced; influencing.


late 14c., an astrological term, “streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon character or destiny of men,” from Old French influence “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny” (13c.), also “a flow of water,” from Medieval Latin influentia “a flowing in” (also used in the astrological sense), from Latin influentem (nominative influens), present participle of influere “to flow into,” from in- “into, in, on, upon” (see in- (2)) + fluere “to flow” (see fluent). Meaning “exercise of personal power by human beings” is from mid-15c.; meaning “exertion of unseen influence by persons” is from 1580s (a sense already in Medieval Latin, e.g. Aquinas). Under the influence “drunk” first attested 1866.

see under the influence.

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