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[geyn-sey, geyn-sey] /ˈgeɪnˌseɪ, geɪnˈseɪ/
verb (used with object), gainsaid, gainsaying.
to deny, dispute, or contradict.
to speak or act against; oppose.
Origin of gainsay
First recorded in 1250-1300, gainsay is from the Middle English word gainsaien. See again, say1
Related forms
gainsayer, noun
ungainsaid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gainsay
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • After that it was fit that silence should again intervene, for I could not gainsay him.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • I have my own roof, such as it is, and no one to gainsay me under it.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • Arthur felt that he was, in some measure, and did not gainsay it.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • This fine deed was soon forgotten, and there are even people who gainsay it.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • After the invading army had retired, no one will gainsay the sound sense of his behaviour.

    Agesilaus Xenophon
  • "Yes," she answered, with a quiet dignity which he could not gainsay.

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • That may do in the bank, perhaps, where none can gainsay him.

    Luttrell Of Arran Charles James Lever
  • There was no one to dispute his will,—none to gainsay his opinions.

British Dictionary definitions for gainsay


verb -says, -saying, -said
(transitive) (archaic or literary) to deny (an allegation, a statement, etc); contradict
Derived Forms
gainsayer, noun
Word Origin
C13 gainsaien, from gain-against + saien to say1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gainsay

"contradict," c.1300, literally "say against," from Old English gegn- "against" (see again) + say (v.). "Solitary survival of a once common prefix" [Weekley], which was used to form such now-obsolete compounds as gain-taking "taking back again," gainclap "a counterstroke," gainbuy "redeem," and gainstand "to oppose." Related: Gainsaid; gainsaying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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