Does exert power over something mean the same as wield power over something? For example:

  1. For many centuries, this community exerted a lot of power over these people.
  2. For many centuries, this community wielded a lot of power over these people.

Would sentence 1 and 2 mean exactly the same?

  • I would say that when you wield power it is a stance, not an action. When you exert that power, there is an effect. For wield please see Lexico: Have and be able to use (power or influence). Aug 19, 2020 at 20:40
  • @WeatherVane, The definition you mentioned is the second one, but the first one says "hold and use", so It does not seem to me that it does not mean an action.
    – Lalo
    Aug 19, 2020 at 20:51
  • 1
    The first definition is for an object such as a weapon. The second seems to be for your requested meaning. But anyway, someone wields a sword: they brandish it. In the example, the robber wielding a handgun, it does not mean 'shooting'. Aug 19, 2020 at 21:36
  • @WeatherVane, I see your point, but could they be, in some cases, interchangeable? If I say "This wields influence over that", how can something wield influence over something else without actually influencing it?
    – Lalo
    Aug 19, 2020 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


You can wield power without exerting it.

For instance, a policeman standing on a street corner can reduce crime (or at least relocate it) without actually arresting any criminals. The fact he could arrest people has an effect on their behavior.

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