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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for gainsayer
Historical Examples
  • Nor is it open to the gainsayer to contend that they were kings indeed but of some chance city.

    Agesilaus Xenophon
  • But the official records are at hand, and will be furnished any gainsayer.

    A Defence of Virginia Robert L. Dabney
  • You need no other proof of this but experience, to stop the mouth of any gainsayer.

  • My words may seem a jest to the gainsayer, but I call the god Mut to witness that what I say is true.

    Archology and the Bible George A. Barton
  • If, again, it is objected that in any case the lady's gift was money thrown away, it is not so easy to convince the gainsayer.

    William de Colchester Ernest Harold Pearce
  • About the middle of the twelfth century came, so far as the world now knows, the first gainsayer of this general theory.

British Dictionary definitions for gainsayer


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 gainsayer



"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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