[geyn-sey, geyn-sey]

verb (used with object), gain·said, gain·say·ing.

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 formsgain·say·er, nounun·gain·said, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gainsayer

Historical Examples of gainsayer

  • Nor is it open to the gainsayer to contend that they were kings indeed but of some chance city.



  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for gainsayer


verb -says, -saying or -said

(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 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