tr.v. con·vinced, con·vinc·ing, con·vinc·es
1. 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.
[Latin convincere, to prove wrong : com-, intensive pref.; see COM- + vincere, to conquer; see weik-3 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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 (not convinced) 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 our 2016 survey, 80 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; the sentence After listening to the teacher's report, the committee was convinced to go ahead with the new reading program was accepted by 59 percent of the Panel. Persuade, on the other hand, is fully standard when used with an infinitive or a that clause, in both active and passive constructions. An overwhelming majority of Panelists as far back as 1996 accepted the sentences After a long discussion with her lawyer, she was persuaded to drop the lawsuit and 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 are unlikely to notice.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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