transitive verb con·vinced
- To cause (someone) by the use of argument or evidence to believe something or to take a course of action. See Synonyms at persuade.
a. To prove to be wrong or guilty.
b. To conquer; overpower.
Origin of convince
, to prove wrong
, intensive pref.
; see com–
, to conquer
; see weik-3
in Indo-European roots.
Related Forms:Usage Note:
According to a traditional rule, one persuades
someone to act but convinces
someone of the truth of a statement or proposition: By convincing me that no good could come of staying, he persuaded me to leave.
If the distinction is accepted, then convince
should not be used with an infinitive: He persuaded
) me to go.
In our 1981 survey, 61 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the use of convince
with an infinitive. But the tide of sentiment against the construction has turned. In a 1996 survey, 74 percent accepted it in the sentence I tried to convince him to chip in a few dollars, but he refused.
Even in passive constructions, a majority of the Panel accepted convince
with an infinitive. Fifty-two percent accepted the sentence After listening to the teacher's report, the committee was convinced to go ahead with the new reading program. Persuade,
on the other hand, is perfectly acceptable when used with an infinitive or a that
clause in both active and passive constructions. An overwhelming majority of Panelists in the 1996 survey accepted the following sentences: After a long discussion with her lawyer, she was persuaded to drop the lawsuit. The President persuaded his advisers that military action was necessary.
Some writers may wish to preserve the traditional distinction, but they should bear in mind that most readers will probably not notice.