[geyn-sey, geyn-sey]
See more synonyms for gainsay on

Origin of gainsay

First recorded in 1250–1300, gainsay is from the Middle English word gainsaien. See again, say1
Related formsgain·say·er, nounun·gain·said, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gainsay

Contemporary Examples of gainsay

Historical Examples of gainsay

  • 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.



British Dictionary definitions for gainsay


verb -says, -saying or -said
  1. (tr) archaic, or literary to deny (an allegation, a statement, etc); contradict
Derived Formsgainsayer, noun

Word Origin for gainsay

C13 gainsaien, from gain- against + saien to say 1
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

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