unverified, unofficial information gained or acquired from another and not part of one's direct knowledge: I pay no attention to hearsay.
an item of idle or unverified information or gossip; rumor: a malicious hearsay.


of, relating to, or characterized by hearsay: hearsay knowledge; a hearsay report.

Origin of hearsay

1525–35; originally in phrase by hear say, translation of Middle French par ouïr dire

Synonyms for hearsay

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hearsay

Contemporary Examples of hearsay

Historical Examples of hearsay

  • There is no religion in the world that has any other basis than hearsay evidence.

  • Remember, gentlemen, I speak only from hearsay; of myself I know nothing.

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

  • Remember, my dear madam, all I have been telling you reached myself as hearsay.

    Tony Butler

    Charles James Lever

  • I had no doubt that the man knew of her being there; but he only knew it by hearsay.

    The Arrow of Gold

    Joseph Conrad

  • For him it was purely a matter of hearsay which could not in itself cause this emotion.


    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for hearsay



gossip; rumour
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 hearsay

1530s, perhaps mid-15c., from phrase to hear say.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for hearsay


Information heard by one person about another. Hearsay is generally inadmissible as evidence in a court of law because it is based on the reports of others rather than on the personal knowledge of a witness.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.