- to utter or pronounce; speak: What did you say? I said “Hello!”
- to express in words; state; declare; word: Say it clearly and simply. It's hard to know how to say this tactfully.
- to state as an opinion or judgment: I say her plan is the better one.
- to be certain, precise, or assured about; determine: It is hard to say what is wrong.
- to recite or repeat: to say one's prayers.
- to report or allege; maintain: People say he will resign.
- to express (a message, viewpoint, etc.), as through a literary or other artistic medium: a writer with something to say.
- to indicate or show: What does your watch say?
- to assume as a hypothesis or estimate: Let's say, for the sake of argument, that it's true.
- to speak; declare; express an opinion.
- approximately; about: It's, say, 14 feet long.
- for example: If you serve, say tuna fish and potato chips, it will cost much less.
- what a person says or has to say.
- the right or opportunity to speak, decide, or exercise influence: to have one's say in choosing the candidate.
- a turn to say something: It is now my say.
- (used to express surprise, get attention, etc.)
- that is to say. that(def 16).
Origin of say1
Origin of say2
- a thin silk or woolen fabric similar to serge, much used in the 16th century.
Origin of say3
- Jean Bap·tiste [zhahn ba-teest] /ʒɑ̃ baˈtist/, 1767–1832, French economist.Compare Say's law.
- Thomas,1787–1834, U.S. entomologist.
- to speak, pronounce, or utter
- (also intr) to express (an idea) in words; tellwe asked his opinion but he refused to say
- (also intr; may take a clause as object) to state (an opinion, fact, etc) positively; declare; affirm
- to reciteto say grace
- (may take a clause as object) to report or allegethey say we shall have rain today
- (may take a clause as object) to take as an assumption; supposelet us say that he is lying
- (may take a clause as object) to convey by means of artistic expressionthe artist in this painting is saying that we should look for hope
- to make a case forthere is much to be said for either course of action
- (usually passive) Irish to persuade or coax (someone) to do somethingIf I hadn't been said by her, I wouldn't be in this fix
- go without saying to be so obvious as to need no explanation
- I say! mainly British informal an exclamation of surprise
- not to say even; and indeed
- that is to say in other words; more explicitly
- to say nothing of as well as; even disregardinghe was warmly dressed in a shirt and heavy jumper, to say nothing of a thick overcoat
- to say the least without the slightest exaggeration; at the very least
- approximatelythere were, say, 20 people present
- for examplechoose a number, say, four
- the right or chance to speaklet him have his say
- authority, esp to influence a decisionhe has a lot of say in the company's policy
- a statement of opinionyou've had your say, now let me have mine
- US and Canadian informal an exclamation to attract attention or express surprise, etc
- archaic a type of fine woollen fabric
Word Origin and History for say
Old English secgan "to utter, inform, speak, tell, relate," from Proto-Germanic *sagjanan (cf. Old Saxon seggian, Old Norse segja, Danish sige, Old Frisian sedsa, Middle Dutch segghen, Dutch zeggen, Old High German sagen, German sagen "to say"), from PIE *sokwyo-, from root *sekw- (3) "to say, utter" (cf. Hittite shakiya- "to declare," Lithuanian sakyti "to say," Old Church Slavonic sociti "to vindicate, show," Old Irish insce "speech," Old Latin inseque "to tell say").
Past tense said developed from Old English segde. Not attested in use with inanimate objects (clocks, signs, etc.) as subjects before 1930. You said it "you're right" first recorded 1919; you can say that again as a phrase expressing agreement is recorded from 1942, American English. You don't say (so) as an expression of astonishment (often ironic) is first recorded 1779, American English.
"what someone says," 1570s, from say (v.). Meaning "right or authority to influence a decision" is from 1610s. Extended form say-so is first recorded 1630s. Cf. Old English secge "speech."
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
- 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.