[ sey ]
See synonyms for say on
verb (used with object),said [sed], /sɛd/, say·ing [sey-ing]. /ˈseɪ ɪŋ/.
  1. to utter or pronounce; speak: What did you say? I said “Hello!”

  2. to express in words; state; declare; word: Say it clearly and simply. It's hard to know how to say this tactfully.

  1. to state as an opinion or judgment: I say her plan is the better one.

  2. to be certain, precise, or assured about; determine: It is hard to say what is wrong.

  3. to recite or repeat: to say one's prayers.

  4. to report or allege; maintain: People say he will resign.

  5. to express (a message, viewpoint, etc.), as through a literary or other artistic medium: a writer with something to say.

  6. to indicate or show: What does your watch say?

  7. to assume as a hypothesis or estimate: Let's say, for the sake of argument, that it's true.

verb (used without object),said [sed], /sɛd/, say·ing [sey-ing]. /ˈseɪ ɪŋ/.
  1. to speak; declare; express an opinion.

  1. approximately; about: It's, say, 14 feet long.

  2. for example: If you serve, say tuna fish and potato chips, it will cost much less.

  1. what a person says or has to say.

  2. the right or opportunity to speak, decide, or exercise influence: to have one's say in choosing the candidate.

  1. a turn to say something: It is now my say.

  1. (used to express surprise, get attention, etc.)

Idioms about say

  1. that is to say. that (def. 16).

Origin of say

First recorded before 900; Middle English seyen, seggen, Old English secgan; cognate with Dutch zeggen, German sagen, Old Norse segja; akin to saw3

Other words from say

  • sayer, noun

Words Nearby say

Other definitions for say (2 of 4)

[ sey ]

verb (used with object), noun
  1. British Dialect. assay.

Origin of say

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English saien, sayen, shortening of assaien, assayen to assay

Other definitions for say (3 of 4)

[ sey ]

  1. a thin silk or woolen fabric similar to serge, much used in the 16th century.

Origin of say

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English sai(e), a kind of serge, from Old French saie, saye “long-skirted coat,” from Medieval Latin saia, sagum, a kind of cloth, from Latin saga, plural of sagum “coarse woolen cloak, soldier's cloak,” from Gaulish sogom

Other definitions for Say (4 of 4)

[ sey ]

  1. Jean Bap·tiste [zhahnba-teest], /ʒɑ̃ baˈtist/, 1767–1832, French economist.: Compare Say's law.

  2. Thomas, 1787–1834, U.S. entomologist. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use say in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for say (1 of 2)


/ (seɪ) /

verbsays (sɛz), saying or said (mainly tr)
  1. to speak, pronounce, or utter

  2. (also intr) to express (an idea) in words; tell: we asked his opinion but he refused to say

  1. (also intr; may take a clause as object) to state (an opinion, fact, etc) positively; declare; affirm

  2. to recite: to say grace

  3. (may take a clause as object) to report or allege: they say we shall have rain today

  4. (may take a clause as object) to take as an assumption; suppose: let us say that he is lying

  5. (may take a clause as object) to convey by means of artistic expression: the artist in this painting is saying that we should look for hope

  6. to make a case for: there is much to be said for either course of action

  7. (usually passive) Irish to persuade or coax (someone) to do something: If I hadn't been said by her, I wouldn't be in this fix

  8. go without saying to be so obvious as to need no explanation

  9. I say! mainly British informal an exclamation of surprise

  10. not to say even; and indeed

  11. that is to say in other words; more explicitly

  12. to say nothing of as well as; even disregarding: he was warmly dressed in a shirt and heavy jumper, to say nothing of a thick overcoat

  13. to say the least without the slightest exaggeration; at the very least

  1. approximately: there were, say, 20 people present

  2. for example: choose a number, say, four

  1. the right or chance to speak: let him have his say

  2. authority, esp to influence a decision: he has a lot of say in the company's policy

  1. a statement of opinion: you've had your say, now let me have mine

  1. US and Canadian informal an exclamation to attract attention or express surprise, etc

Origin of say

Old English secgan; related to Old Norse segja, Old Saxon seggian, Old High German sagēn

Derived forms of say

  • sayer, noun

British Dictionary definitions for say (2 of 2)


/ (seɪ) /

  1. archaic a type of fine woollen fabric

Origin of say

C13: from Old French saie, from Latin saga, plural of sagum a type of woollen cloak

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with say


In addition to the idioms beginning with say

  • say a mouthful
  • say grace
  • say one's piece
  • says who?
  • say the word
  • say uncle

also see:

  • before you can say Jack Robinson
  • cry (say) uncle
  • do as I say
  • give (say) the word
  • go without (saying)
  • have a say in
  • I dare say
  • I'll say
  • needless to say
  • never say die
  • never say never
  • not to mention (say nothing of)
  • on one's say-so
  • strange to say
  • suffice it to say
  • that is (to say)
  • to say the least
  • you can say that again
  • you don't say

Also see undersaid.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.