From the second edition (1989):
say, v.1
(seɪ) Forms: see below. [OE. sęcgan, pa. tense sæde, corresp. to OFris. sega, sedza (mod.Fris. sizze), OS. seggian, pa. tense sagda (MLG. seggen, MDu. seggen, sagen, Du. zeggen), OHG. sagên, pa. tense sagita, segita (MHG., mod.G. sagen), ON. segja, pa. tense sagða; repr. OTeut. *sagǣjan, *sagjan:—pre-Teut. *sokēi-. The root is perh. WIndo-germanic *soqu-: *sequ, found in Lith. sakýti, OSl. soc̆yti to say, Gr. ἔννεπε imper. (:—*en-seque=OLatin inseque, insece), ἐνισπεῖν aorist inf., to tell, say, L. inquam I say (:—*in-squ-am).
The normal mod.Eng. phonetic representative of the OE. inf. sęcgan (or the 1st sing. pres. sęcge) would have been *sedge. As in the case of buy v., lie v.1, the mod. form comes from OE. forms which had (palatal) instead of cg, as imp. sęe, sæe, 2nd sing. pres. ind. sęest, sæst, 3rd sing. pres. ind. sęeð, sæð. The represents WGer. g, and the cg WGer. gg; the OTeut. stem *sagj- having become by phonetic law in W.Ger. *saggj- before an inflexional suffix beginning with a vowel, and *sagi- in any other position. In Middle English, alongside the tendency, which ultimately prevailed, to extend the stem seȝ-, sei-, sai- (:—OE. se-) to all parts of the verb, there existed an opposite tendency to extend the stem segg- beyond its etymological limits. Hence most of the parts of the verb (though not the pa. tense) had two widely divergent forms, the distribution of which does not closely correspond to dialectal divisions. In some northern poetry the two forms occasionally occur in juxtaposition as distinct words (e.g. ‘Tille I haue seggid and saide all my sawe’, York Myst. xxxii. 16). In Robert of Brunne the form segge, *sedge (implied in sedgeyng) seems to be appropriated to the sense ‘recite’ (as a minstrel): see sayer 1, saying 1.]


A. Inflexional Forms.


1. inf. say (seɪ). Forms: α1 secgan, secggan, -ean, sæcgan, sæcg(g)ean, 1–2 secgean, seggan, 2 seggon, secgen, -on, segcean, sæcgen, 2–4 segge(n, siggen, suggen, 2–5 sigge, 3 seuggen, sucgen, suge(n, seg, 3–4 sugge, Kent. zigge, zygge, 5 sygge, 6 dial. zedge. Also dat. inf. 1 to secgenne, -anne, 2 to seggan(n)e, 2–4 to seggen(e, Kent. to ziggene. β2 sæen, sæin, 2–3 seien, seȝen, 2–5 sei(e, 3 seiȝen, 3–5 sai, 4 seyen, saien, seiȝ(e, (? erron. sy), 4–5 seyn(e, sein, 4, 6 Sc. sa, 4–6 sayn, sey(e, saie, saye, 4–5, (6–7 arch. in rimes) sayne, saine, 4–5, (6, 9 arch.) sain, 6 sayen, (erron. sene), 8–9 dial. zay, 3– say. Also dat. inf. 4–5 to seyne, 4, 6 to saine, 5 to sane, to seinge, to sein, to seynt, 5–6 sayne.

α Beowulf 880 Þonne he swulces hwæt secgan wolde. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 67 Þenne muȝe we wenen and seggen þus. c1205 Lay. 18377 Þe king‥bad Gorlois suggen [c1275 segge] his iwille. c1250 Kent. Serm. in O.E. Misc. 28 We mowe sigge þet stor signefieth þe herte. 1340 Ayenb. 134 Þet is to ziggene. 1340–70 Alisaunder 1033 Now will I cease þis sawe & segge you more Of hym þat hight Alisaunder. 1393 Langl. P. Pl. C. xiii. 30 For to seggen as thei seen. c1425 Seven Sag. (P.) 1708 To loke what he wolde sygge. 1553 Respublica v. vii. 14 (Brandl) Iche maie zedge to yowe, Is fearde pulling owte my throte.
β a1122 O.E. Chron. an. 1070 (Laud MS.) Þa herdon þa munecas of Burh sæen þæt [etc.]. 1154 Ibid. an. 1137 ⁋5 Suilc & mare þanne we cunnen sæin. c1250 Gen. & Ex. 2494 Vs he ðis bodewurd feiȝen bead. a1300 Cursor M. 12813 Quat þan sal we sai to þaim? [v.rr. sayne; sai; sey]. c1300 Havelok 2886 Þe erl ne wolde nouth ageyn Þe kinge be‥, Ne of þe spusing seyen nay. c1350 Will. Palerne 60 So, forto seiȝ al þe soþe so faire þe cherl glosed, þat [etc.]. c1368 Chaucer Compl. Pite 77 (Tanner MS.) Ther is no more to seyn [v.rr. seye, seyne]. c1375 Sc. Leg. Saints xl. (Ninian) 276 For ocht þat he cuth sa ore do. c1400 Brut lix. 55 The v kyng hade Merchemeriche, þat is to seynt, þe Erldome of Nichol. c1420–30 ? Lydg. Compleynt 99 in Temple Glas (E.E.T.S.) 60 And of on thyng, soth for to seyne, I haue gret mater to compleyne. a1450 Knt. de la Tour cxiii. (1906) 153 Syn the nwe testament, that is to sein, sen God was borne of the holy mayden Marie. 1513 Douglas Æneis i. Prol. 219 Eneuch thairof, now will I na mair sayne. Ibid. i. vi. 138 Venus na mair sufferit him plene nor sa. a1547 Surrey in Tottel's Misc. (Arb.) 20, I dare well sayen. 1621 Bp. R. Montagu Diatribæ 118 To say bo to a battledore. a1643 Cartwright Ordinary ii. ii. (1651) 62 Ah benedicite I might soothly sayne. 1865 Swinburne Poems & Ball., Q. Bersabe 345 Lord God, alas, what shall I sain?


2. ind. pres. a. 1st pers. sing. say (seɪ). Forms: α1 secge, (segce), secgge, sæcge, 2–5 segge, 3 sucge, seuge, sige, 3–4 sugge, 3–5 sigge, 4 suge, sege, sygge. β3 seie, 3–4 sai, 4 seiȝe, seȝe, 4–5 sey(e, sei, 4–6 saye, 5–6 saie, (in rhyme pseudo-arch. 5 sayne, 6 sane), 8–9 dial. zay, 3– say.

α 971 Blickl. Hom. 69 Soþ is þæt ic eow secgge, þæt [etc.]. c1200 Ormin 16632 To fulle soþ I segge þe. c1205 Lay. 2979 Þis ich sucge [v.r. segge] þe to seoðe. Ibid. 2985 Ich þe Gornoille seuge. c1250 Kent. Serm. in O.E. Misc. 30 Ine sigge nacht þet hi ne hedden þer before ine him beliaue. a1275 Prov. Ælfred 706 ibid. 138 Hic ne sige nout bi þan, þat moni ne ben gentile man. c1300 Harrow. Hell 171 (Digby MS.) Adam, nou i sege hit þe, To-day þou salt alesed be. c1394 P. Pl. Crede 390 And þerfore, leue leel man leeue þat ich sygge. c1400 Solomon's Bk. Wisdom 203 Riȝth to heuen ne segge ich nouȝth þat he euer come.
β a1300 Cursor M. 28036, I sai [v.r. say] noght þis þoqueþer of alle. 1362 Langl. P. Pl. A. i. 182 For-þi I seiȝe as I seide er be siȝte of þise tixtes. c1374 Chaucer Troylus iv. 769 A by-word here I saye, That, ‘rotelees, mot grene sone deye’. c1400 Gamelyn 447 (Skeat), I say it for me,‥yuel mot I the! a1450 Knt. de la Tour ix. (1906) 13 For y saie you alle, who that dothe a dedly synne [etc.]. c1485 E.E. Misc. (Warton Club) 48 Furth he went, as y ȝow sayne. 1513 Douglas Æneis iii. ix. 96 For, quhow grislie and quhow greit I ȝow sane Lurkis Poliphemus. 1530 Palsgr. 696/2, I saye, I tell or speake a thyng.


b. 2nd pers. sing. sayest (ˈseɪɪst), sayst (seɪst). Forms: α1 sest, saast, 2 sæȝst, 2–5 seist, 3 seiist, seiest, Ormin seȝȝst, 3–5 seyst, 3–6 seiste, 4 Kentish zayst, 4–7 saist, 5 (erron. seyth, seith), 3– sayst, 6– sayest. Also (chiefly north.) 3–5 sais, says, 4–5 seis, 5 sayes, seyes. β3 Ormin seggesst (gg = (dʒ)), 4 siggest, (seggez), 5 seggest, seggist.

α 971 Blickl. Hom. 179 On þone þu leoende saast þæt þu sie þæt he is. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 39 Þenne þu seist Dimitte [etc.]. c1200 Ormin 5188. a1225 Juliana 11 (Bodl. MS.) Beo hit soð þat tu seiist [v.r. seist]. a1250 Owl & Night. 1075 (Jesus MS.) Hwat seystu [v.r. seistu] þis for myne schome. 1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 10792 Wat seiste quaþ þis gode erl. a1300 Cursor M. 965 He said, ‘adam, now wel sais þou.’ 1382 Wyclif Mark xv. 1 Thou seyst. 1432–50 tr. Higden (Rolls) I. 227 Alle thynges be to vs bare and open that thow seyes. c1450 Merlin 17 We may neuer bileve that this be trewe that thow seiste. ?1548 tr. Viret's Expos. XII Art. Chr. Faith Aivb, The thynge is euen as thou sayest. 1579 Lyly Euphues (Bond) I. 321 Moreouer thou saist that [etc.]. 1667 Milton P.L. v. 815 Unjust thou saist Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free. 1741–2 Gray Agrip. 85 Say'st thou I must be cautious, must be silent. 1831 Scott Ct. Rob. xix, ‘Thou say'st a painful truth’, said Count Robert.
β c1200 Ormin 1512. 13‥ E.E. Allit. P. B. 621 ‘Fare forthe’, quod þe frekez, ‘& fech as þou seggez’. 1402 Jack Upland's Rejoinder in Pol. Poems (Rolls) II. 72 The secte that thou seggist of.


c. 3rd pers. sing. says (sɛz), arch. saith (sɛθ). Forms: α1 se(e)þ, sæ(e)þ, sæið, saað, 2 seȝð, sæȝð, 2 seigð, 2–3 sæið, seið, seieð (occas. written seid, seied), 2–5 seith, 3 sehð, sæið(e, Ormin seȝ(ȝ)þ, 3–4 seithe, 3–5 seyth, 4 Kent. zayþ, zaiþ, (2–3 seit, 3 seiet, 4 seyt), 4–5 seythe, 5–6 sayth, 6 saythe, saieth, 6–7 sayeth, 3– (now arch.) saith. Also (with ending orig. north.) 3–6 sais, 4 seys, (sas), 4–5 seis, sayse, saise, 4–7 sayes, 5 ? seysse, 5, 7 saies, 6 sayis, 9 dial. ses, sez, 4– says. β3 suggeð, 3–4 seggeþ. Also 4 sigges, 5 segges.

α 971 Blickl. Hom. 27 Her saaþ Matheus se godspellere þætte [etc.]. Ibid. 55 Her seþ hu se æþela lareow wæs sprecende. a1175 Cott. Hom. 239 Þan seied ham god‥ȝe senegeden an ȝeur ecenesse [etc.]. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 45 Eft ure lauerd seolf seit. Maledictus homo [etc.]. c1200 Ormin 10306 He seȝȝþ uss þatt [etc.]. a1250 Owl & Night. 1072 (Jesus MS.) Wel viht þat wel spekþ seyþ in þe songe. a1300 Cursor M. 8282 Als sais [v.rr. sas, saise, seiþ] þe stori. c1320 Sir Tristrem 1545 He seyt he haþ don þis. c1330 R. Brunne Chron. Wace (Rolls) 14779 But þat seynt Bede of þem alle seys, Elles schulde non haue knowe what weys. 1340 Ayenb. 134 Ase zaiþ zainte paul. 13‥ Seuyn Sag. (W.) 2925 Opon the morn, the stori sayse, The knight toke horses and hernays. c1500 Melusine vi. 28 Thystory saith, that [etc.]. 1508 Dunbar Flyting 133 He sayis [etc.]. 1523 Ld. Berners Froiss. I. ccclxxxvii. 661 If it be as he dothe, it is as he saythe. 1590 Greene Orl. Fur. (1599) B2, What sayes the mightie Mandrecard? 1600 in Shaks. Cent. of Praise 35 He sayeth that [etc.]. a1631 Donne Poems (1650) 9 Who saies my teares have overflow'd his ground? 1750 Gray Long Story 73 So Rumour says. 1819 Scott Ivanhoe xxxiv, For what saith holy writ.
β 1205 Lay. 28818 Swa alse þe boc us suggeð. c1275 Ibid. 10500 Þe king þe greteþ Basan an seggeþ mid sore þat [etc.]. a1375 Joseph Arim. 209 Þenne spekes a vois and on heiȝ sigges, ‘king [etc.]’. c1440 York Myst. xxxiii. 98 Agayne Sir Cesar hym selfe he segges and saies [etc.].


d. pl. say (seɪ). Forms: α1 secg(e)að, seggað, sæcg(e)að, secggaþ, 2–4 siggeþ, seggeþ, 3 sug(g)eð, segeþ, (segget); 1 segge (we), 2–4 segge, 4 Sc. sigge, 4–5 seggen. β4 seith, 4 seyth (occas. written seyt), seyithe. Also north. 3–6 sais, 4 seis, saise, 5 seise, 6 says, 6–7 sayes. γ3–4 seiȝen, 3–6 sey(e)n, 4 sein, 4–5 seyne, sain, 4–6 sayn(e, seien, 5 saien, 5 (6–7 arch.) saine, 5–6 sane, sayen, (9 dial. sen); 3–4 sai, seie, 4–5 sey, sei, 4–6 saye, 5–6 saie, (8–9 dial. zay), 4– say.

α 971 Blickl. Hom. 125 Swylce eac we leorniaþ, men, þæt þa men secgaþ‥þæt [etc.]. a1175 Cott. Hom. 237 Of þe folce we siggeð þat hit cumþ fastlice fram middenardes. c1205 Lay. 24275 Summe bokes suggeð [v.r. seggeþ] to iwisse þat [etc.]. c1275 Ibid. 27480 For al so segge [v.r. suggeð] þe writes þat witty men dihte. 1377 Langl. P. Pl. B. xi. 425 ‘Ȝe seggen soth’, quod I.
β a1300 Cursor M. 343 Als clerkes sais þat are wis He wroght noght first wit partis. Ibid. 6697 Til hir husband men aght to giue Mendes þat men sais es right. c1320 R. Brunne Medit. 675 Sum seyþ, ‘saue þy selfe, ȝyf þou kunne’. 1563 Winȝet tr. Vincentius Lirinensis Wks. (S.T.S.) II. 76 We al says the samyn.
γ c1250 Gen. & Ex. 917 Ebruis seiȝen, wune hem wex [etc.]. a1300 Cursor M. 14689 Gas lokes þe bokes o your lai, And vnderstandes quat þai sai. c1320 Sir Tristrem 3220 Þai leiȝen al bi dene Þat sain he dar nouȝt fiȝt Wiþ his fo. 1362 Langl. P. Pl. A. vii. 122 Ȝif hit beo soþ þat ȝe seyen. c1400 Destr. Troy 277 Sum sayn full sure‥Hit was þe formast on flete þat on flode past. ?1404 26 Pol. Poems 17/72 In sykernes may he go, and recche neuere what men say. 1422 tr. Secreta Secret., Priv. Priv. 196 Morouer hit is not to beleue to folys that Sayne that [etc.]. c1460 Fortescue Abs. & Lim. Mon. xvii. (1885) 152 To this sane [v.rr. sayn, sayen] suche lordes on oþer men. c1485 Caxton Sonnes of Aymon xxii. 481 Wene ye that I shall do that ye saye for fere of deth? 1504 in I. S. Leadam Sel. Cases Crt. Requests (1898) 9 And the saide Executours further seyen that [etc.]. 1513 Bradshaw St. Werburge i. 358 As dyuers auctours sayne. 1552 Lyndesay Monarche 6032 Than sall one Fyre, as Clerkis sane, Mak all the hyllis and valais plane. 1579 J. Stubbes Discov. Gaping Gulf C5b, A new match betweene hym and Marguerit daughter of a French Charles, as most men saien. 1581 G. Pettie tr. Guazzo's Civ. Conv. i. (1586) 11 What saie you of this? 1602 Breton Mother's Blessing B4b, But harken to the shepheards what they saine, Both of the Sunshine, and a showre of raine. 1614 B. Jonson Barth. Fair ii. ii, They say, a fooles handsell is lucky.


3. ind. pa. a. 1st and 3rd pers. sing. said (sɛd). Forms: 1–2 sæde, (1 saode), 1–3 sǽde, 2 saide, sæide, 2–4 sede, sade, 2–5 seide, 2, 5–7 sed, 3 seaide, sæide, Ormin seȝȝde, 3–5 seyde, seid, 3–6 sayde, 3–7 saide, 4 seyede, seȝede, Kentish z(e)ayde, Sc. sad, 4–5 seyd, 4–7 sayd, 5 seyed, 5–7 saied, 5–7 sayed, 3– said.

c1000 Ælfric Saints' Lives (1900) II. 322 Þe þis gehyrde eall and hit eft sæde swa swa. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 77 And þet hali meiden onswerede and seide [etc.]. c1200 Moral Ode 131 (Trin.) Drihte self hit sade. c1205 Lay. 1256 He þoute‥hou þe læfdi him sæide. a1250 Owl & Night. 235 (Jesus MS.) For Alured king hit seyde [v.r. seide] & wrot. 13‥ K. Alis. 1375 (W.) Yef ony saide no. a1352 Minot Poems (ed. Hall) i. 46 Philip Valays‥said he suld þaire enmys sla. c1375 Sc. Leg. Saints i. (Petrus) 83 He sad, he subuertit nocht. c1400 Destr. Troy 11259 Þen þe traytur Antenor‥to þe fre sayde. c1400 Mandeville (1839) viii. 98 A chirche, where the Aungel seyde to oure Lady of hire Dethe. c1440 Generydes 64 She seid he was welcome. c1450 Myrc Festial 168 By vertu of þe holy wordys þat þe prest sayed þer. 1562 Winȝet Cert. Tractates Wks. (S.T.S.) II. 55 He sayd nocht, the thingis haldin of hald. c1610 Women Saints 50 He‥with execration sayed: ‘If I haue committed this theft [etc.]’. 1611 Bible Exod. viii. 25 And Pharaoh‥said, Goe yee [etc.]. 1632 Milton L'Allegro 103 She was pincht, and pull'd she sed. 1766 Gray Kingsgate 17 ‘Ah!’ said the sighing peer, ‘had Bute been true’.


b. 2nd pers. sing. saidest (ˈsɛdɪst), saidst (sɛdst). Forms: 1 sædest, sǽdest, 3 Ormin seȝȝdesst, (3–4 said, saide), 4–5 seidest, seydest, 5 seidist, saydes, 6–7 sayd'st, 6– saidst, 9– saidest.

c1200 Ormin 8660 Acc do swa summ þu seȝȝdesst. a1300 Cursor M. 15661 Þou said [v.rr. saide, seidest] for me if mister war, to ded thole suld þou fight. c1374 Chaucer Troylus i. 919 So seydestow ful ofte. a1375 Joseph Arim. 224 Þou‥siþen seidest to me mi preyere scholde sitte. c1450 Myrc Festial 19 Ryght as þou saydes, hit ys fallen! 1535 Coverdale Ps. lxxxix. 19 Thou‥saydest [etc.]. 1596 Shakes. 1 Hen. IV, ii. iv. 218 What, foure? thou sayd'st but two, euen now. 1850 Mrs. Browning Felicia Hemans ii, No need of flowers—albeit ‘bring flowers’, thou saidest.


c. pl. said (sɛd). Forms: 1 sædun, sedon, 1–2 sædon, sǽdon, -an, 2 saiden, sæden, sæidon, seidon, 2–3 seden, saden, 2–5 seiden, 3 sæiden, Ormin seȝȝdenn, 3, 5 sayden, 3–5 saiden, seyden, 4–5 saidon, 5 saydyn, -on; 3–4 sede, 3, 5 seyde, 3–5 seid(e, saide, 3, 5–6 sayde, 4 Kentish zede, 3– said.

c900 tr. Bæda's Hist. v. x. (1890) 416 Sedon þæt hio hefdon nyt ærende. c950 Lindisf. Gosp. Mark xiv. 57, & summ monn aras leas gecyðnise sædon [c975 Rushw. sædun; c1000 Ags. Gosp. sædon, v.r. sædon; c1160 Hatton saiden] wið him cuoeðendo. 1154 O.E. Chron. an. 1135, Men‥sæden ð[at] micel þing sculde cumen her efter. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 89 Þa seiden þa iudeiscen men a bismer. c1205 Lay. 15600 Þa cnihtes biliue comen to þan reue & þus him to sæiden. c1340 Ayenb. 59 Ase we zede hyerbeuore. a1352 Minot Poems (ed. Hall) i. 43 Þai said it suld ful dere be boght. c1386 Chaucer Man of Law's T. 113 Diuerse men diuerse thynges seyden. c1400 Destr. Troy 12643 Yet thies lyghers‥Saidon the same kyng‥þat [etc.]. c1420 Chron. Vilod. 1713 Þe lordus‥saydon: Etheldrede oȝte not to be kynge. c1449 Pecock Repr. ii. ix. 198 Thei maden hem a calf of siluer, and seiden that it was her God. 1470–85 Malory Arthur i. iii–v. 40 Letters there were wryten in gold aboute the swerd that saiden thus. 1662 J. Davies tr. Olearius Voy. Amb. 274 An accompt of what they said concerning [etc.].


4. subj. pres. say. Forms: sing. 1 secg(g)e, sæcge, 3 segge, sugge, sigge, 3, 6 saie, 4 sa, 4–5 sey(e, seie, 5– say. pl. 1 secg(g)an, secgen, sæcgeon, sæcgan, sæggon, 2–3 seggen, 3 sey, 4 sa, 5– say.

971 Blickl. Hom. 179 Þa cwæþ Petrus, ‘Secge Simon me nu, if [etc.]’. c1200 Ormin 9272, & lokeþþ wel þatt ȝure nan Ne segge þuss wiþþ worde [etc.]. c1205 Lay. 13888 Ich ileue þe cniht þæt þu me sugge soð riht. a1225 Ancr. R. 8 Sigge so monie [sc. beoden],‥se heo euer wule. c1275 Passion our Lord 523 in O.E. Misc. 52 Þat his disciples‥ne‥seggen to þe volke‥He is aryse from deþe. 1390 Gower Conf. I. 103 What as evere that ye seie Riht as ye wole so wol I. c1462 Wright's Chaste Wife 440 If he sey to the any þing He schall haue sorowe vn-sowte. 1513 Douglas Æneis xi. ix. 36 Sytand at eys ilkane say his entent.


5. imp. say. Forms: (a) sing. 1 saa, see, sæe, 2 seȝe, 3 sæiȝe, sæi, saie, seiȝe, Ormin seȝȝ, 3–4 sei, sa, 3–5 sey(e, sai, seie, 3–6 saye, 4 Kentish zay, (6 pseudo-arch. saine), 3– say.

971 Blickl. Hom. 233 Sæe us þæt hrædlice. a1000 [see B. 6]. c1200 Ormin 9299 Lef maȝȝstre, seȝȝ uss nu þin raþ. c1205 Lay. 2269 Seie [v.r. sei] me Locrin, Saie me læðe mon. Ibid. 30283 Sæiȝe me biliue hu þe beon on siðe. c1275 Passion our Lord 585 in O.E. Misc. 54 Saye heom þat ich astye to mynes vader riche. a1300 Cursor M. 11964 Sai [v.r. say] þou; i der noght til him speke. 1340 Ayenb. 1 Zay þis þet uolȝeþ. 1513 Douglas Æneis vi. v. 46 Say me, virgyne, quod Enee. a1600 ? Raleigh in Eng. Helicon L 3, Yet what is Loue, good Sheepheard saine? 1742 Gray Eton 21 Say, father Thames! for thou hast seen Full many a sprightly race.


(b) pl. α1 secg(g)að, seggað, 2 secgeð, 2–3 seggeð, 3 suggeð, siggeð, segget, segge. β4 seiȝth, 4–5 sayeth, 5 seith, seieþ, sayth(e. Also north. 3–5 sais, 4 saise, seys, 5 says. γ3–4 sai, 4 Sc. sa, 4–6 sey, 5 saie, seie, 4, 6– say.

971 Blickl. Hom. 71 Secggaþ Siones dohtrun þæt heora cining cymeþ. c1205 Lay. 865 Suggeð [v.r. Seggeþ] me to runun ræd þæt eou þunche. a1250 Owl & Night. 116 (Jesus MS.) Seggeþ [v.r. Segge] me if ye hit wiste. a1300 Cursor M. 5092 To fotte mi fader sal yee fund, And sais him i am hale and sund. c1440 York Myst. xxxi. 146 Saie! beene venew in bone fay, Ne plesew et a parle remoy. 1450 Fastolf in Paston Lett. I. 130 And sey hem on my half that they shall be qwyt. c1728 Earl of Ailesbury Mem. 626, I concluded with an old English term, ‘Say, and keep to what you say’.


6. pres. pple. saying (ˈseɪɪŋ). Forms: α1 secg(g)ende, 2–3 seggende. β2–4 seinde, 3–4 saiand, 4–6 sayand(e, 5 seiand, sayn; 4 seyyng(e, seiynge, -enge, 4–5 seyinge, 4–6 saiyng, sayng, seying, 5 seiyng, seyng, seing, sainge, sayinge, saynge, saenge, saiynge, seyȝing, 5–6 saieng, seynge, seyenge, 6 say-, saieng(e, saing, 7 dial. zaying, 3– saying.

α 971 Blickl. Hom. 161 Hie þære soþfæstnesse spellodan & tacen secgende wæron, þa þe Drihten sylf getacnode. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 93 Þus seggende, Venite.
β a1300 Cursor M. 17672 And als i stod saiand mi bede. c1320 R. Brunne Medit. 228 He‥cumforted hem ful feyre, seyyng [etc.]. c1380 Wyclif Wks. (1880) 3 Seiynge‥þat crist tauȝte not his disciples‥þe beste ordre and religioun. c1400 Rule St. Benet (Prose) lxiv. 42 Sayng in þis wise [etc.]. 1426 Lydg. De Guil. Pilgr. 7008 Grace dieu seyng to me. a1450 Knt. de La Tour viii. (1906) 11 A uoys come to her saieng [etc.]. 1460 J. Capgrave Chron. (Rolls) 32 Josue‥spak with God seiand swech wordes on to him. 1500–20 Dunbar Poems xxviii. 3, I dremed ane angell came fra Hevin, With plesand stevin sayand [etc.]. 1535 Coverdale Zech. iv. 4 So I‥spake to the angel yt talked with me, sayenge: O my lorde [etc.]. 1549 (Mar.) Bk. Com. Prayer, Matins Aivb, The priest standyng vp and saiyng. Let vs praye. 1664 J. Wilson A. Comenius v. vi, What was you saying?


7. pa. pple. said (sɛd). Forms: α1 (e-)sæd, (e-)sǽd, 2 ȝesed, iseȝd, 2–3 isæd, isæid(e, isait, i-, yseit, 3–4 (6 arch.) y-sed, i-sed, (4 Kent. y-zed), 4 ysade, y-sayd, 2–5 (y-, i-) seid(e, 5–7 sayed, 6 saied, say'd, seede, 3–7 sed, 2– said. β5 seggid. γ6–7 (chiefly in rimes) saine. δ5 seden, sadyn, saydyn.

α 971 [see B. 2d]. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 47 Þeos ilke weord þe ic habbe her iseit. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 103 Þus sit man on his sinne swo ich seid haue. c1205 Lay. 11427 No here ich nenne godne ræd þe þe ȝet beo isæd. c1250 Owl & Night. 395 (Jesus MS.) Vor heo ne myhte noht alegge Þat þe vle hedde hire iseyd [v.r. ised]. 1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 2126 As ichabbe ysed [v.r. yseit]. a1300 Cursor M. 11261 Quen þai had sai(d) [v.rr. sayd, seid] þat þai wald sai. 13‥ E.E. Allit. P. B. 353 Fro seuen dayez ben seyed I sende out bylyue. c1330 Arth. & Merl. 525 (Kölbing) Mi deuise ich haue ysade. c1386 Chaucer Knt.'s T. 1010 If yow thynketh this is weel ysayd. 1390 Gower Conf. I. 154 The king‥hath al herd how sche hath said. c1400 Rule St. Benet (Verse) 531 And when þai al þer sawes hafe saide [etc.]. 1432–50 tr. Higden (Rolls) VIII. 143 These wordes y-seide the develle evaneschede. c1489 Caxton Sonnes of Aymon xxvi. 560 All that they had sayed. 1515 in Coll. Surrey Archæol. Soc. (1858) I. 182, I will that there be seede‥v masses. 1557 Primer Sarum, Dirige Ps. xxvi. I vij, My heart hath saied set vnto thee. 1560 J. Daus tr. Sleidane's Comm. 94b, The Ambassadours‥were sayde naye. 1567 Turberv. Ovid's Ep. 116 Alas, poore wretch, my Phaon I had very neare ysed. 1570 Satir. Poems Reform. xix. 99 Christ hes it sed,‥That kingdome sall come to greit ruyne. 1637 [see 2b pass.]. 1648 in Nicholas Papers (Camden) 97 Very much hath beene sayed‥to make the Prince jealous [etc.]. 1682 Sir T. Browne Chr. Mor. iii. ii, Nothing can be said hyperbolically of God. a1699 A. Halkett Autobiog. (1875) 49 To take that upon him hee had never Saied.

β(See B. 2g.)
γ 1592 Greene Alphonsus 583 Wks. (Grosart) XIII. 354 [You] Shall well repent the words which you haue saine. 1610 G. Fletcher Christ's Tri. ii. 9 O depth, without a depth farre better seene then saine.
δ 1422 tr. Secreta Secret., Priv. Priv. 207 Of the vertu of Iustice afor in this boke Is largely Saydyn. 1422 [see B. 2e]. Ibid. 131 Seden.


B. Signification.
In Eng., as in other Teut. langs., say is an approximate synonym of speak, from which it differs in having normally as its object a particular word or series of words, or a sentence representing the meaning of a particular series of words. Cf. L. dicere and its representatives in Romanic (which, however, have also senses that are now expressed in Eng. by tell), and L. aio, inquam.


As the word designates not the action of speaking itself, but its relation to the object, its use with reference to written expression does not ordinarily, like the similar use of speak, involve any consciousness of metaphor.


1. a. trans. To utter or pronounce (a specified word or words, or an articulate sound). Also, in wider sense, used of an author or a book, with quoted words as object. Also fig., of things: to suggest, to indicate. Phrs. I won't (or wouldn't) say no to (something, usu. a food or drink): I would like; to say the word: see word n. 7; who says ——?, with an item of food as object: who would like ——?
For various idiomatic collocations, as to say nay, to say bo, to say farewell, etc., see the conjoined words.


For as who saith, as who should say, see as and who.

c1000 Ags. Gosp. Mark xiv. 58 We e-hyrdon hine secgan ic to-wurpe þis hand-worhte tempel [etc.]. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 35 Soðliche he walde seggen ȝif he mihte speken, wa is me þet ic efre dude swa muchele sunne. Ibid. 41 And eft þe boc seið, Ne scule ȝe neure god don unforȝolden. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 5 To þe oðer wurð iseid þat loðeliche word.‥ Ite maledicti [etc.]. c1200 Ormin 149, & Godess enngell seȝȝde himm to‥Ne dred te, Zacariȝe. c1330 R. Brunne Chron. Wace (Rolls) 11399 At ilka mattyng þei seide ‘chek’. c1386 Chaucer Prioress' Prol. 11 He sayde,‥‘My lady Prioresse [etc.]’. c1449 Pecock Repr. ii. xviii. 258 In this maner of colourid speche we seien: ‘This ymage is Seint Peter [etc.]’. 1535 Coverdale Ps. cxvi. 11, I sayde in my haist: All men are lyers. 1611 Bible Judg. xii. 6 Then said they vnto him, Say now, Shibboleth: and he said, Sibboleth. a1714 J. Sharp Serm. Wks. (1754) IV. xviii. 309 A man that swears and curses to add grace to his discourse, might as well serve his purpose by repeating a word or two out of propria quæ maribus, or saying any scrap of pedlars French. 1821 De Quincey Richter Wks. 1863 XIII. 121 Not whilst you can say Jack Robinson. 1872 Calverley Fly Leaves (1884) 64 Is it not—(never, Eddy, say ‘ain't it’) A marvellous sight? 1898 J. D. Brayshaw Slum Silhouettes 158 ‘Who says pudden? Mister What's It—a little piece?’ 1910 H. G. Wells Hist. Mr. Polly vi. 193 Sit down, everyone.‥ Who says steak-and-kidney pie? 1939 A. Thirkell Before Lunch iv. 85, I wouldn't say no to toast and honey. 1958 V. H. Collins Second Bk. Eng. Idioms 194, I won't say no, I won't refuse‥often only a genteel way of saying ‘Thank you’. 1970 P. Laurie Scotland Yard iii. 68 To me drugs say beatniks, layabouts‥kids going to ruin. 1972 A. Ross London Assignment 33 His shirt said custom~made silk even at that distance.


b. In pass., of a word: To be derived. Const. of. Obs.

1340 Ayenb. 93 Vor of crayme is yzed crist and of crist cristendom. c1440 Lydg. Hors, Shepe & G. 57 Eques abequo’ is seid‥And cheualere is saide of cheualrye. 1597 G. Harvey Trim. Nashe To Rdr., Lent (you know) is saide of leane, because it macerates & makes leane the bodye.


c. With an inanimate item as subject: to communicate or represent; esp. of a clock, calendar, etc., to show (a certain time or date); of a notice, to state (a certain message).

1930 W. Faulkner As I lay Dying 237 The clock said twenty past twelve. 1944 M. Laski Love on Supertax xi. 103 On the door‥Clarissa found a notice saying, ‘Welfare Officer. Knock and enter.’ 1951 W. Faulkner Requiem for Nun ii. i. 112 A clock on the wall says two minutes past two. 1973 W. J. Burley Death in Salubrious Place v. 105 The perpetual calender said Wednesday August 25th. 1975 S. Johnson Urbane Guerilla i. 23 A sign said, ‘Statue of Liberty—ticket office other side of building.’ 1975 Language for Life (Dept. Educ. & Sci.) vi. 88 To teach a child that ‘kuh-a-tuh’ says ‘cat’ is to teach him something that is simply incorrect.


2. To declare or state in words (a specified fact, thought, opinion, or intention). Said of a speaker, writer; also of a literary composition, a proverb, etc. Const. to (†in OE. and ME. simple dat.). a. with obj. a clause (introduced by that, or with ellipsis of that). Also fig., spec. with a sum of money as subject, used as a formula to bet or wager that (something is the case).

971 Blickl. Hom. 9 Se engel hire sæde þæt heo sceolde modor beon hire Scyppendes. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 15 Monimon seið þet þa weren strotige [? read stronge] laȝe. c1200 Ormin 255 Þiss Goddspell seȝȝþ þatt Sannt Johan Wass [etc.]. c1386 Chaucer Sqr.'s T. 199 They‥seyde that it was lyk the Pegasee. c1450 St. Cuthbert (Surtees) 6185 Men saide him þat it was not sothe. c1460 Towneley Myst. ix. 137 Go grete hym well,‥say hym I com. 1561 Reg. Privy Council Scot. I. 181 Thair is na law that sayis that Frenchmennis gudis unmarkit shall pertene be escheit to the Lard of Bargany. 1577 Kendall Flowers of Epigrammes 18 Thou saist thou art as much my frend as any man can be. 1617 Moryson Itin. i. 178, I formerly said that I bought a horse at Paduoa. 1657 W. Coles Adam in Eden cviii, Some say, that it [sc. Sundew] is a searing or caustick Herb, and very much biting. 1673 Wycherley Gent. Dancing-Master iii. i, What I have said I have said. 1829 K. H. Digby Broadstone of Honour i. 272 Gibbon says that the French Monarchy was created by the bishops of France. 1833 Tennyson Lady of Shalott ii. i, She has heard a whisper say A curse is on her if she stay. 1859 Geo. Eliot A. Bede xlix, It's your kindness makes you say I'm useful to you.
fig. a1340 Hampole Psalter ii. 10 Ȝoure consciens sais ȝou þt ȝe doe wrange. 1606 Shakes. Ant. & Cl. ii. i. 11 My powers are Cressent, and my Auguring hope Sayes it will come to'th' full. 1954 W. Tucker Wild Talent xii. 184 A dollar says you won't come back. 1962 D. Lessing Golden Notebk. ii. 230 The set of his shoulders said that he was listening, so she went on. 1974 L. Deighton Spy Story xviii. 194 ‘A quid,’ I said. ‘You're on,’ said Ferdy.‥ ‘And I've got a pound that says you're wrong,’ said Schlegel. That's how I lost two quid. 1975 J. Gores Hammett iii. 28 I've got twenty at four-to-seven that says the semifinal is a draw. 1976 Listener 8 Apr. 427/3 This same man has since been in contact, and wants to go on another job with us‥—which, to me, says that he is happy that what could be done was done under the circumstances at the time.


b. with obj. a pronoun or quasi-pronominal word or phrase. Also transf. and fig., to convey, communicate; to mean; to indicate.

c1000 Ags. Gosp. Luke xxiii. 3 Ða andswarude he þu hit sest. a1122 O.E. Chron. an. 1083, Hwæt maon we secgean buton þæt hi scotedon swiðe. 1154 Ibid. an. 1135, Durste nan man sei to him naht bute god. c1205 Lay. 1164 Brutus hit herde siggen Þurh his sæ-monnen. a1250 Owl & Night. 60 (Jesus MS.) If ich me holde in myne hegge Ne recche ich neuer hwat þu segge. a1300 Cursor M. 12293 And he said noiþer ill ne god. c1485 Digby Myst. (1882) iii. 893 Wher haue ȝe put hym? Sey me thys. 1611 Bible Luke xiii. 17 And when hee had said these things, all his aduersaries were ashamed. 1677 Wood Life (O.H.S.) II. 395 Dr. Bathurst is no great freind to the Masters, and hath said it often that many of them deserve to be put out of the house. 1710–11 Swift Jrnl. to Stella 1 Jan., What say you to that? 1795 Gentl. Mag. 542/2 A good deal has been said already in your Magazine in praise of Dr. Berkeley. 1840 J. H. Newman Par. Serm. V. iii. 51 Let us aim at meaning what we say, and saying what we mean. 1868 Helps Realmah xv. (1876) 394 Mauleverer only said that to tease you. 1881 H. James Portr. Lady I. xviii. 222 I'm afraid there are moments in life when even Beethoven has nothing to say to us. 1893 E. Saltus Madam Sapphira 57 What would a Scotch and soda say to you? 1932 J. Buchan Sir W. Scott xii. 333 Venice, Tirol, Munich, Heidelberg said nothing to him. 1932 R. Campbell Pomegranates, They change and tremble As the lips they most resemble When one red kiss is all they say. 1951 M. McLuhan Mech. Bride (1967) 80/2 By juxtaposition and contrast he is able to ‘say’ a great deal. 1955 M. Laski Apologies 14 No, not actually like it, but—‥it just doesn't say anything to me. 1966 Listener 10 Nov. 694/1 A Californian who knew the difference between summer and fall, no matter what the skies and the thermometer say. 1977 H. Fast Immigrants v. 302, I raised a hundred and sixty thousand dollars of San Francisco money that says so. 1977 Jrnl. R. Soc. Arts CXXV. 602/1 Titian, in the nature of what he can and does ‘say’ is at least as close to Cézanne or Francis Bacon‥as he is to Sannazaro or Aretino.
Proverbial phrase. 1377 Langl. P. Pl. B. xvii. 17 For þough I seye it my-self I haue saued with þis charme Of men & of wommen many score þousandes. c1485 Digby Myst. (1882) i. 139 Though I sey it my-self I am a man of myght. a1592 Greene Geo. a Greene 397 Wks. (Grosart) XIV. 139 Though I say it that should not say it. 1606 Heywood 2nd Pt. If you know not me (1609) C3, Shall a yong man as I am, and though I say it, indifferent proper, goe [etc.]. 1736 Sheridan in Swift's Lett. (1768) IV. 181, I have written a little pretty birth-day poem against St. Andrew's day.‥ It is a very pretty thing (although I say it that shouldn't say it). 1736 Gray Let. Dec. (1900) I. 4 Though I say it, that should not say it, there positively is not one that has a greater esteem for you. 1817 Keats Let. 4 Sept. (1958) I. 150 This here Beast though I say it as shouldn't‥can sing. 1818 Blackw. Mag. II. 214/2 My adversary might find it, however, (though I say it that shouldn't say it) in the vulgar phrase, rather a tough job. 1834 Tracts for Times No. 22. 3, I think you, Sir, will allow that it was not badly contrived, though I say it, who should not say it. 1842 Dickens Let. 1 May (1974) III. 229, I do believe, though I say it as shouldn't, that they [sc. Dickens's children] are good 'uns. 1863 H. E. P. Spofford Amber Gods 148 Though I say it thet shouldn't say it. 1889 E. Dowson Let. 5 Mar. (1967) 45, I recognize in it, thou' I say it as shouldn't what Pater calls ‘a delicate tact of omission’. 1892 C. M. Yonge Cross Roads i. 13 Ours is reckoned one of the best choirs‥though I say it as should not say it.
passive. a1175 Cott. Hom. 233 Þa þis was iseȝd. 1387 Trevisa Higden (Rolls) VII. 145 Þe whiche i-seide, þe emperour i-smyten aȝen promoted hym sone into a bisshop. 1637 Milton Lycidas 129 Besides what the grim Woolf with privy paw Daily devours apace, and nothing sed.


c. impers. or with indefinite subject: it says = the author or the book referred to says. Now colloq.
The use with quoted words as obj. (belonging formally to 1) and the absolute parenthetic use (cf. 3a, b) are for convenience included here.

971 Blickl. Hom. 41 Þonne sæþ on þissum bocum þæt Drihten sylf cwæde þæt [etc.]. a1225 Ancr. R. 182 Vor hwon heo is ipreoued, hit seið, heo schal beon ikruned mid te crune of liue. a1300 Cursor M. 8818 Þus þai fanded it tre dais, Als it in þe stori sais. c1400 Rule St. Benet (Prose) v. 9 Als yure maistiresse leris yu, als it sais: ‘Qui uos audit [etc.]’. 1840, etc. [see it pron. 3f]. 1894 ‘R. Andom’ We Three & Troddles xv. 130 Giants are always wicked people. It says so in the children's books. 1900 B. Pain Eliza 54 ‘You told me it was port!’ ‘So it is.’ ‘It says tonic port on the label.’ 1977 S. Brett Star Trap xii. 134 ‘Christopher Milton is thirty-eight, at least.’ ‘But it says in the programme—’ ‘Charles, Charles, you've been in the business too long to be so naïve.’


d. quasi-impers. in pass., with clause (expressed or understood from context) as real subject: it is (has been, will be) said. In pres. tense now chiefly = ‘it is commonly said’, ‘people say’.
After as the pronoun it is now commonly omitted.

971 Blickl. Hom. 65 Sæd is þæt hit sy wyrtruma ealra oþerra synna. a1225 Ancr. R. 274 Flesches lust is fotes wunde, ase was feor iseid þeruppe. 1258 Procl. in Rymer Fœdera (1816) I. i. 378 Alswo alse hit is biforen iseid. a1300 Cursor M. 4507 For lang was said, and yeit sua bes, Hert sun for-gettes þat ne ei seis. 1390 Gower Conf. I. 15 Bot it is seid and evere schal, Betwen tuo Stoles lyth the fal. c1449 Pecock Repr. i. v. 23 As it is bifore seid in the iiije. argument. 1549 Coverdale, etc. Erasm. Par. Heb. vii. 1–3 Melchisedech‥who as it is said had neyther father, nor mother. 1780 Mirror No. 75 (1787) III. 6 In the very next paragraph it is said, ‘We have the pleasure of informing the Public [etc.]’. 1798 Garthshere in Paget Papers (1896) I. 140 Lady Cahir off with Sr J. Shelley—Lady Assia (as is said) do. in Ireland. 1804 Wordsw. Margaret 20 If things ensued that wanted grace, As hath been said, they were not base. 1859 Tennyson Elaine 148 We hear it said That men go down before your spear at a touch. 1861 M. Pattison Ess. (1889) I. 48 It has been even said that this church was built by the Germans. 1881 Besant & Rice Chapl. Fleet ii. xx. 270 There had been found a man, it was said, to bell the cat.


e. [After L. dicere, Fr. dire.] With complement: To speak of, call (by a specified name or designation): chiefly in pass. Also (and in later use exclusively) in pass. with adj. or descriptive n., = ‘to be said to be’, ‘to be called’. Obs.

1382 Wyclif Bible Prol. xiv. 55 Whanne the formere thingis ben set byhynde, it is seid recapitulacoun, either rehersing of thing doon bifore. Ibid. Matt. xxvi. 3 The prince of the prestis that was said Caiphas. 1390 Gower Conf. I. 61 The ferste is seid Ypocrisie. a1400–50 Alexander 1070 (Dubl. MS.) Sagittarius for soth men seggen it to name. c1400 Lanfranc's Cirurg. 192 Forwhi impetigo serpigo & morphea ben seid in salerne diuers names. c1400 tr. Secreta Secret., Gov. Lordsh. 52 Olde men louyn swylk a kynge, and he ys sayd vertuous, large and attempre. c1420–30 Wycliffite Bible Pref. Ep. St. Jerom. i, Itali, the which sumtyme was seid Grete Grece. 1422 tr. Secreta Secret., Priv. Priv. 201 Prayer othyrwhyle is sadyn a good worke. 1450–1530 Myrr. our Ladye 267 The doughters of Syon have sene her, and they have sayde her blyssed. 1484 Caxton Fables of Æsop v. xiv, None ought to say hym self mayster withoute that he haue fyrst studyed. 1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 302 What wyll ye shall be done with Jesu that is sayd Chryst and Sauyour of the worlde. 1540–1 Elyot Image Gov. 108, I saie you most victorious people, branches of Romulus, subduers of realmes. 1589 Puttenham Eng. Poesie ii. iii. (Arb.) 84 According to the number of the sillables contained in euery verse, the same is sayd a long or short meeter. a1617 Bayne On Eph. (1643) 66 Thus all things are said created in or by Christ. 1628 Coke On Litt. 69 What shall be said a voyage royall shall be adjudged by the judges. 1652 Gaule Magastrom. 277 And why must he needs make mention of the flesh, where as it was enough to say him mortall? 1690 Locke Hum. Und. ii. xxv. §1 The Colour White, [is] the Occasion why he is said whiter than Freestone.


f. †(a) With direct object and inf. in lieu of clause. (A Latinism) (obs.). †(b) With ellipsis of reflexive obj. before the inf.: To allege oneself to do or be so and so (obs.). (c) In pass. with following infinitive, to be said to do or be so and so.
The mod. passive use (c) has two different meanings: the predicate may denote an alleged or reported fact (as in quot. 1615), or a descriptive term used (as in quot. 1838).

(a) 1563 Shute Architecture Fj, Whiche oure Author hath brought to a vniformity, saying the piller to be in height .9. Diameters. 1583 Fulke Defence vii. 224 Iacob, Ioab, and Shemei which none but madde men will say to haue descended into a receptacle of soules. 1639 Ld. Digby Lett. Conc. Relig. (1651) 53 Papias, whom St. Jerome‥sayes to have been the first Author of it [Millenarianism]. 1706 E. Ward Wooden World Diss. (1708) 42 It were great Malice, to say him to be a Man of no Principles.
(b) 1585 T. Washington tr. Nicholay's Voy. 111 Diuers of them doe say to be descended of the line of Mahomet.
(c) 1607 Shakes. Cor. iv. v. 243 As warres in some sort may be saide to be a Rauisher, so [etc.]. 1615 G. Sandys Trav. 152 This is said to haue hapned‥about the time that the Judges began to governe in Israel. 1671 Blagrave Astrol. Pract. Physick 165 A planet is said to be peregrine, when he is out of all essential dignities. 1803 Davy in Phil. Trans. XCIII. 252 Catechu is said to be obtained from the wood of a species of the Mimosa. 1838 T. Thomson Chem. Org. Bodies 980 The trees are then said to bleed. 1839 H. T. De la Beche Rep. Geol. Cornwall, etc. iii. 72 This patch may be said to be dove-tailed into its highest part. 1846 Lindley Veget. Kingd. 727 The fruit of Rhizophora Mangle is said to be sweet and edible. 1878 Huxley Physiogr. ii. 21 Rocks which thus allow water to filter through them are said to be permeable.


g. With cognate obj. (See say n.4 4.)

c1400 [see A. 7α]. c1440 York Myst. xxxii. 16 Therfore take hede.‥ Þat none jangill nor jolle at my ȝate, Tille I haue seggid and saide all my sawe.


h. to say (a person) shame, scandal, to make disgraceful accusations against. Obs.

a1225 Ancr. R. 352 Preise him, laste him, do him scheome, seie him scheome al him is iliche leof. a1250 Owl & Night. 50 (Jesus MS.) Ilome þu dest me grome & seist me boþe teone & schome. a1300 Cursor M. 8914 ‘O godd’, coth þai, ‘said has sco scam.’ 1828 Scott F.M. Perth xii, I will say them no scandal.


i. Phrase. to have something (nothing) to say to (or with): fig. to have (no) dealings with; of things, to have (no) connexion with or bearing upon.

1724 De Foe Mem. Cavalier (1840) 267 We had nothing to say to him. 1780 Mirror No. 75 (1787) III. 5 Perhaps you have something to say with the gentlemen who make the news. 1844 W. G. Todd Ch. St. Patrick 27 All then that Rome had to say to the conversion of Ireland was simply this. 1871 Earle Philol. Eng. Tongue (1887) 624 The imitation has nothing to say to the origin of the words. 1887 G. T. Stokes in Dict. Chr. Biog. IV. 202 The use of the word Roman here‥has nothing to say to the Church of Rome. 1888 —— Irel. & Celtic Ch. 151 With that controversy the Irish Church had nothing to say. 1904 J. T. Fowler Durh. Univ. 21 The Churchmen of the North would have nothing to say to a Puritan and intrusive foundation.


j. to have (something, nothing, etc.) to say for oneself: to be able to adduce (something, nothing) in defence or extenuation of one's conduct. Also (colloq.), to have nothing to say for oneself: to be habitually silent from a retiring disposition or lack of vivacity.

1779 F. Burney Diary (1891) I. 105 All that I can say for myself is, that I have always feared discovery [etc.]. 1850 J. H. Newman Difficulties Anglicans i. vii. (1891) I. 221 Bishop Ken‥could not take the oaths, and was dispossessed; but he had nothing special to say for himself.


k. Contrasted with do, in certain proverbial locutions.

Mod. colloq. That's easier said than done. No sooner said than done!


l. when all is said and done (and slight varr.): after all, in the long run, nevertheless, on balance.

c1560 T. Ingelend Disobedient Child sig. A iii, Whan all is saide and all is done, Concernynge all thynges both more and lesse. 1583 B. Melbancke Philotimus sig. S iij, It must be as ye woman will, when all is said & done. a1785 J. Hall-Stevenson Wks. (1795) I. 137 And yet, when all is said and done, This something's nothing but a Pun. 1886 [see rumourer]. 1928 M. Wilkinson Edict of Nantes (C.T.S.) 29 When all is said Bâville was responsible for a good deal of cruelty. 1930 ‘Sapper’ Finger of Fate 162 But when all is said and done, a prospective son-in-law is as important as any letter. 1937 ‘G. Orwell’ Road to Wigan Pier iv. 73 When all is said and done, the most important thing is that people shall live in decent houses and not in pigsties. 1952 M. Laski Village v. 98 After all, Friday's pay-day when all's said and done. 1981 R. Barnard Mother's Boys iv. 49, I know. Still, when all's said and done—.


m. what do you say to ——?: what is your response to ——?; fig., how would you like ——?, how would —— suit you?

1592 Shakes. Rom. & Jul. iii. iv. 28 But what say you to Thursday? 1833 J. Constable Let. 11 Jan. (1966) IV. 391 What do you say to all or any of Mr. White's ‘says’—his dogmatical manner has force. 1851 Mrs. Stowe Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) II. xxiii. 77 What do you say to a game of backgammon? 1929 Melody Maker Jan. 20/2 What do you say to a beaker of ‘the boy’? 1948 M. Laski Tory Heaven vi. 84 I'm getting a bit peckish.‥ What do you say to us going out and looking for a bite? 1980 M. Gilbert Death of Favourite Girl ii. 23 What do you say we go outside and get a breath of fresh air?


n. that is saying (little, much, etc.) (and varr.): that is to concede (little, much, etc.); used to qualify or intensify a previous statement; it says much for (and varr.): it is much to the credit of; to say that (or one thing) for: to concede (the previous or following statement) as one point in favour of.

1806 C. Wilmot Let. 23 Mar. in Russ. Jrnls. (1934) ii. 223 Her Lenity makes their Lot better perhaps than that of others, but that's saying very little for the System. 1849 C. Brontë Let. 5 Apr. in C. Shorter C. Brontë & her Circle (1896) xvi. 440, I cannot perceive that she is feebler now than she was a month ago, though that is not saying much. 1853 Lytton My Novel III. ix. ix. 48 No, I will say one thing for English statesmen, no man amongst them ever yet was the richer for place. Ibid. x. xx. 202 They beat the New Yorkers in manners. I'll say that for them. 1876 J. Blackwood Let. 18 May in Geo. Eliot Lett. (1956) VI. 253 She remarked that‥if people were no wiser in their speculations about more serious subjects‥it did not say much for human wisdom. 1917 E. Fenwick Diary 13 Nov. in Elsie Fenwick in Flanders (1981) 183 The worst and hardest day I've had for weeks and that's saying a good deal. 1942 E. Paul Narrow St. vii. 59 He had with him a battery of the stuffiest lawyers in the Paris bar, and that is saying a lot. 1946 E. O'Neill Iceman Cometh ii. 138 Sure. Harry's the greatest kidder in this dump and that's saying something! 1956 B. Holiday Lady sings Blues (1973) xix. 154 Fishman had been around before the concert was a sellout, you could say that for him. 1965 New Statesman 30 Apr. 670/1 It says a good deal for Mr Eyre that he‥is the one Mr Powell himself seems to have favoured most. 1969 K. Giles Death cracks Bottle vi. 64 The most impecunious peer in Ireland, which is saying something. 1975 New Yorker 1 Dec. 47/3 Houtek was a Railroad Baron and acted the part, but he liked to make others feel important too, I will say that for him.


o. you('ve) said it: you are absolutely right; you have got the point completely; I agree with you entirely.

1919 C. H. Darling Jargon Bk. 50 You said it, you said the right thing and I agree with you. 1925 E. Hemingway Undefeated in This Quarter I. ii. 208 ‘If you stand in with Retana‥you're a made man.’‥ ‘You said it,’ the other waiter‥said. ‘You said it then.’ 1929 E. Linklater Poet's Pub ii. 34 ‘Peace is too exciting‥’ said Joan. ‘You've said it, Miss Benbow.’ 1947 ‘N. Blake’ Minute for Murder i. 9 ‘What do they find?’ ‘Chay-oh [i.e. chaos],’ replied Nigel.‥ ‘You said it.’ 1970 N. Streatfeild Thursday's Child vii. 52 ‘It is a big place, there must be a lot of servants needed.’‥ ‘You've said it.’


p. to say it with (something): to express one's feelings, make one's point, etc., by the use of (that thing); esp. and orig. in phr. say it with flowers, advertising slogan of the Society of American Florists, freq. in general and fig. use.

1918 Florists' Review 3 Jan. 12/2 The slogan will be ‘Say It With Flowers’, and every florist who deals with the public should make that phrase a conspicuous feature of his advertising from the day the first S.A.F. page appears. 1921 I. Berlin (song-title) Say it with music. 1925 New Yorker 21 Feb. 8 (heading) Say it with scandal. 1928 C. Sandburg Good Morning, America 17 Behold the proverbs of a people, a nation.‥ Say it with flowers. Let one hand wash the other. The customer is always right. 1932 Wodehouse Hot Water vi. 114 Here's this Gedge bird shoutin' about the plumbing of this Chatty-o and not saying it with flowers, neither. 1960 G. Mikes How to be Inimitable 33, I used to say it with flowers.‥ More gallant, no doubt.‥ But with cognac it is so much quicker. 1974 G. Mitchell Javelin for Jonah xiv. 175 ‘Why did you knife your science master?’ ‘We disagreed.‥ So I say it with knives.’


q. you can say that again, phr. expressing whole-hearted agreement with a previous speaker's statement. colloq. (orig. U.S.).

1942 Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch 29 Dec. 11/5 Arthur Murray keeps in step with his hobby, Broadway idiom.‥ If you agree [to something said] you nod and add, ‘You can say that again, brother.’ 1950 Sun (Baltimore) 1 May 12/2 The Senator wrote‥that he did not ‘believe that savings caused by decreases in essential services constitute constructive economy.’ Senator Lehman can say that again. 1960 Observer 20 Mar. 10/4 Mary:‥Andy, it's serious! Andy: You can say that again! 1973 Nature 12 Oct. 339/2 ‘I feel that here is an area that has not been thought out completely’, he writes; he can say that again. 1974 ‘E. Lathen’ Sweet & Low xi. 102 ‘Everybody here is waiting for Dreyer‥to put some support into this market.’‥ ‘You can say that again!’ The fervent statement came from a total stranger. 1981 R. Barnard Mother's Boys vii. 70 ‘These teenagers are all alike, aren't they?’ ‘You can say that again,’ snarled Lill.


3. Absolute uses of senses 1 and 2. a. With adv. so or thus instead of pronominal obj. (cf. 2b); also in clause introduced by as. you don't say so! a colloquial expression of astonishment at some statement; similarly you don't say! (orig. U.S.), occas. also used sarcastically; as they say: phr. used to mark a preceding or following expression as being proverbial or hackneyed; if you say so: phr. denoting acceptance of a statement or an order, usu. with grudging or placatory overtones.

c1000 Ags. Gosp. Mark xiv. 16 His leorning cnihtas‥fundon hit eall swa he sæde. c1200 Ormin 463 Þiss gode mann‥Wass, alls I seȝȝde nu littlær, Ȝehatenn Zacaryas. 1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 8972 Wy seistou so. c1320 R. Brunne Medit. 134 Þey þat þe hous haue sey seyn ryȝt so. 1340 Ayenb. 96 Þanne he openede his mouþ‥and ham þus zeayde. c1430 Chev. Assigne 162 Thus he seythe to his wyfe in sawe as I telle. c1592 Marlowe Jew of Malta (1633) H3b, Saist thou me so? 1611 Shakes. Wint. T. ii. iii. 138 If thou refuse, And wilt encounter with my Wrath, say so. 1644 Milton Areop. (Arb.) 63 If he beleeve things only because his Pastor sayes so. 1662 Stillingfl. Orig. Sacræ ii. vi. §16. 202 Say you so? 1698 Fryer Acc. E. Ind. & P. 262 As we are wont to say, Well done. 1749 Smollett tr. Gil Blas (1782) III. 7 So saying, he drew his long rapier. 1779 F. Burney Diary Feb. (1842) I. 183 No, you don't say so? 1814 Southey Roderick xxv. 378 Thus saying, they withdrew a little way. 1842 S. Kettell Quozziana 14 ‘We shall have an explosion before long, that will shake the State of Massachusetts to its uttermost foundations.’ ‘You don't say so!’ exclaimed I, in unfeigned alarm. 1873 R. Broughton Nancy xvi, ‘You do not say so!’ cry I, in some astonishment. 1875 Jowett Plato (ed. 2) I. 386 Be persuaded by me, and do as I say. 1899 R. Whiteing No. 5 John St. xiv. 128 You don't say so; why, I'm going to a meeting at his mother's house. 1912 Mulford & Clay Buck Peters, Ranchman iv. 84 ‘An' I could never see how he done it.’ ‘You—don't—say,’ was Buck's thoughtful comment. 1930 A. P. Herbert Water Gipsies xxii. 321 Ernest, as they say, ‘saw red’. 1932 L. Golding Magnolia Street i. x. 171 ‘Father, indeed!‥ As much 'is father as I'm Queen Alexandra!’ ‘You don't say!’ murmured Mr. Briggs. 1955 L. P. Hartley Perfect Woman xiii. 121 She lets me go, and then catches me again. It's a game, as they say. 1956 H. Kurnitz Invasion of Privacy iii. 30 ‘Okay. We've got a deal.’‥ ‘If you say so, George. Anything you say.’ 1959 E. H. Clements High Tension iii. 49 ‘Didn't you have a lodger, though, some time last year?’ The factor‥was obviously‥troubled at having told a lie. ‘If you say so, Kilmorrin.’ 1962 N. Marsh Hand in Glove ii. 67 ‘The Scorpion's not here, George.’ ‘You don't say,’ Mr. Copper bitterly rejoined. 1976 J. Bingham God's Defector vii. 101 ‘You can‥watch who goes in, can't you?’ ‘If you say so.’ ‘I do say so.’ 1977 J. Thomson Case Closed iii. 43 Water under the bridge, as they say. 1979 R. Jeffries Murder begets Murder xiii. 83 ‘Heard the latest, Bert?‥ That young filly was murdered.’ ‘You don't say, sir!’
fig. 1613 Shakes. Hen. VIII, iv. i. 54 All the rest are Countesses. 2 [Gent.] Their Coronets say so.


b. Used in parenthetic clause indicating the author of a quoted saying. (When the quotation purports to be exact, the order of verb and subj. is often inverted.) Also in parenthetic expressions like ‘shall I say?’, ‘let us say’: cf. 10. says who?: ‘who says so?’, used to challenge a previous speaker's remark. Occas. with retort ¶says me; cf. ¶says you below. slang (chiefly U.S.). Also parenthetic phr. shall we say (in quot. 1973, attrib. with ironic force).

c1230 Hali Meid. 6 ‘I-her me, dohter’, he seið. 1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 921 Louerd he sede we beþ men wide idriue aboute. 1362 Langl. P. Pl. A. i. 49 And he asked of hem of whom spac þe lettre‥‘Ceesar’, þei seiden, ‘We seoþ wel vchone’. c1386 Chaucer Shipman's Prol. 17 ‘Nay, bi godis soule, that shal be nat,’ Seide the Shipman. a1529 Skelton Colyn Cloute 1230 It is to drede, men sayes, Lest they be Saduces As they be sayd sayne. a1585 Polwart Flyting w. Montgomerie 175 Thou was begotten, some sayes mee, Betwixt the deuil and a dun kow. 1590 Shakes. Mids. N. ii. ii. 62 Amen, to that faire prayer, say I. Ibid. iii. ii. 277 Why then you left me‥In earnest, shall I say? 1644 Symonds Diary (Camden) 48 A castle, belonging say they to a duke. 1692 R. L'Estrange Fables lxxiii. 73 Shew me the Company (says the Adage) and I'll tell ye the Man. 1710 Swift Jrnl. to Stella 9 Sept., The Duke of Ormond, they say, will be Lieutenant of Ireland. 1798 Wordsw. We are Seven 6 She was eight years old, she said. 1882 W. S. Gilbert Iolanthe i. Ld. Chancellor's Song, I'll work on a new and original plan, (Said I to myself—said I). 1914 Kipling Let. 15 Sept. in Ld. Birkenhead Rudyard Kipling (1978) xviii. 279 Much water, or shall we say much blood, has flowed under the bridges since they were written. 1931 M. E. Gilman Sob Sister x. 143 We can park a car there and spoon—says who! 1932 ‘Spindrift’ Yankee Slang 32 Says who?, challenge to a remark—what right have you to ‘say so’? 1938 C. B. Kelland Dreamland vii. 86 ‘Miss Higg, you are guilty of reprehensible waste.’ ‘Says Who?’ ‘Says me.’ 1968 Listener 30 May 699/1, I think the play may, shall we say, amplify light which does already exist but doesn't seem to have been noticed. 1971 Black World June 81/2 ‘I just asked.’ ‘Had no business asking.’ ‘Says who?’ ‘Me, stupid!’ 1973 E.-J. Bahr Nice Neighbourhood x. 104 Joe Walsh, Jack's shall-we-say housemate. 1977 J. Crosby Company of Friends viii. 116 It's not one [sc. a news story] of ours‥I read it with—shall we say, total astonishment. 1977 J. Porter Who the Heck is Sylvia? xvi. 151 ‘One should never break promises to children.’ ‘Sez who?’


¶In this use, the 3rd sing. pres. is often substituted colloq. for the pa. tense said. Hence, in vulgar speech or jocular imitations of it, says I, says you = ‘said I’, ‘said you’; says you is also (slang (orig. U.S.)) used in the present tense to convey doubt about, or contempt for, the remark of a previous speaker (freq. in form sez you).
In uneducated use often with repetition: ‘Says I to myself, says I’; ‘Well, says Mr. Smith, says he’.

1682 Dryden & Lee Dk. Guise Epil., Jack Ketch, says I, 's an excellent Physician. 1700 Congreve Way of World iii. v, Humh (says he) what you are a hatching some Plot (says he) you are so early abroad. 1700 Swift Mrs. Harris' Petition 30 Says Cary, says he,‥I never heard of such a thing. 1706 De Foe True Relation etc. Early Wks. (1889) 443 Mrs. Bargrave asked her whether she would drink some tea. Says Mrs. Veal, ‘I do not care if I do’. 1712 Hearne Collect. (O.H.S.) III. 381, I ask you, says he, because I am sure, if any one, you can give me information. 1720 Gordon & Trenchard Independ. Whig (1728) 215 Says I to myself, This reverend ill-tongu'd Parson will certainly quarrel. 1784 R. Bage Barham Downs I. 79, I believe, says I, it has caught your sister's dejection. 1825 T. Hook Sayings Ser. ii. Doubts & F. ii, Because, says I to myself, says I, it may save them there unfortunate, innocent people. 1848 Thackeray Van. Fair iii, ‘I bet you thirteen to ten that Sophy Cutler hooks either you or Mulligatawney before the rains’. ‘Done’, says I. 1852 Dickens Bleak Ho. v, That warn't Chancery practice though, says you. 1887 Henley Culture in the Slums i. 1 ‘O crikey, Bill!’ she ses to me, she ses. 1927 Dunning & Abbott Broadway ii. 108 Steve's a fine fellow and he's just out for some innocent fun—Says you—Says I—. 1931 Amer. Speech VI. 205 Says you, you say no, but I don't believe you. ‘Says me’ is the answer. 1931, etc. [see sez]. 1932 J. Brophy English Prose v. 61 Oh yeah! Says you!—an expression of scornful disbelief. 1951 Wodehouse Old Reliable iv. 53 Says you, if I may use a homely phrase indicating doubt and uncertainty. 1981 M. C. Smith Gorky Park iii. iii. 328 ‘He's a murderer.’ ‘Says you.’


c. To speak or tell of something; to speak for or against a person or thing. Obs.

971 Blickl. Hom. 117 Þonne ehyrdon we ær on þas halan tide secgan be þære halan þrowunga ures Drihtenes. a1175 Cott. Hom. 237 Of þeses fif ceþen‥we habbeð ȝeu ȝesed. c1205 Lay. 13470 Ich wulle suggen eow uorð rihtes of mire muchele sorȝen. a1300 Cursor M. 798 Her egain mai naman sai. 1340 Ayenb. 16 Uerst we willeþ zigge of þe zenne of prede. a1352 Minot Poems (ed. Hall) iii. 36 And þare he made his mone playne Þat no man suld say þare ogayne. 1377 Langl. P. Pl. B. v. 10 For I say [= saw] þe felde ful of folke þat I before of seyde. c1400 Mandeville (Roxb.) ix. 37 A kirk whare þe aungell said to þe schephirdes of þe birth of Criste. c1450 St. Cuthbert (Surtees) 1362 Bosyl come, and to him say Of cuthbert purpose and his will. c1489 Caxton Sonnes of Aymon vii. 162 As he wolde have sayd agenst the duke Naymes, there cam a yonge gentilman [etc.]. 1523 Ld. Berners Froiss. I. xxx. 44 None durst say agaynst his opynion. 1534 —— Gold. Bk. M. Aurel. (1546) Hj, We haue saied of the hatred that this emperour had to trewandes. 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. 13 Alswa gif some of them sayes for ane partie, and some for ane other. 1709 Mrs. Manley Secret Mem. (1736) II. 175 My Lady herself can't say against it.


d. with certain advs., esp. well, also †soothly, truly (true), wisely, etc., the implied object being some particular saying. Somewhat arch.

1375 Barbour Bruce vii. 258 ‘Sa ȝhe suthly?’ ‘Ȝha, certis, dame’. 1387 Trevisa Higden (Rolls) III. 239 ‘Þou seist wel’, quod þat oþer. c1400 Sowdone Bab. 472 Beter myghte no man seyne. 1402 Repl. Daw Topias in Polit. Poems (Rolls) II. 49 Jak, thou seist ful serpentli. ?a1425 26 Pol. Poems 103/1, I wole be mendid ȝif y say mys. c1450 Merlin i. 5 Quod the gode man, ‘Ye sey amysse’. Ibid. ii. 35 Thou seiste trewe. 1567 Harman Caveat xix. 73 And was not this a good acte? nowe, howe saye you? 1590 Marlowe 2nd Pt. Tamburl. v. i, Wel said, let there be a fire presently. 1598 Shakes. Merry W. ii. i. 226 Thou shalt haue egresse and regresse (said I well) and thy name shall be Broome. 1697 Dryden Virg. Georg. iv. 736 For sev'n continu'd Months, if Fame say true, The wretched Swain his Sorrows did renew. 1785 Liberal Amer. I. 47, I find Sir Edward Hambden is with you, and, if fame say true, a charming fellow he is. 1831 Scott Ct. Rob. xvi, The Immortal, so called, becomes now, if priests say true, an immortal indeed.


e. In perf. (pluperf.) tense: when he has said = ‘when he has finished speaking’. Also, in pa.t. he said, used in narrative poetry (after L. dixit or the Homeric ἦ ῥα) after the conclusion of a speech. Obs.

c1205 Lay. 4150 Þe Dunewale hauede isæd al his folc luuede þene ræd. 1400 Destr. Troy 8916 When the souerain hade said, þen he sest here. 1525 Ld. Berners Froiss. II. ccxxxiii. 722 Whan he had sayd, then he was aunswered, howe the pope shulde take counsayle to answere. 1595 Shakes. John ii. i. 231 When I haue saide, make answer to vs both! 1600 Nashe Summers Last Will Ij, Loe, I haue said, this is the totall summe. 1667 Milton P.L. v. 869, ix. 664. 1697 Dryden Virg. Georg. iv. 722 She said, and from his Eyes the fleeting Fair Retir'd like subtle Smoke dissolv'd in Air. 1712–14 Pope Rape Lock i. 115 He said; when Shock, who thought she slept too long, Leap'd up, and wak'd his mistress with his tongue. 1738 Gray Tasso 39 Scarce had he said, before the warriors' eyes When mountain-high the waves disparted rise. 1757 W. Wilkie Epigoniad i. 24 He said. The chiefs with indignation burn'd; And Diomed submitting thus return'd.


f. to say well, say evil of, †by: to speak well or evil of. Now rare. †Also in indirect passive.

a1250 Owl & Night. 9 (Jesus MS.) And eyþer seyde of oþres custe Þat alre wrste þat hi ywuste. 1445 tr. Claudian in Anglia XXVIII. 269 Thou seith of hem evir wele. 1470–85 Malory Arthur xiii. xix. 639 My name is sir Launcelot du lake that hath ben ryght wel said of. Ibid. xxi. i. 840 Thus was syr Arthur depraued and euyl sayd of. 1547 Homilies i. Of Contention i. Tjb, Saie well by them, that saie euill by you. 1551–6 R. Robinson tr. More's Utopia Ep. (Arb.) 15 Them which can say well by nothing. 1713 Swift Jrnl. to Stella 16 May, Your new Bishop acts very ungratefully. I cannot say so bad of it as he deserved.


g. Contrasted with do. (Cf. 2k.)

1382 Wyclif Mat. xxiii. 3 Sothely thei seien, and don nat. [So in the later versions.] c1450 tr. De Imitatione iii. xxxv. 103 Shal I be like a man þat saiþ & doþe not?


4.a. Of words: To mean, signify. Also, is (for) to say = ‘signifies’. Obs.

c1000 Ælfric De Vet. Test. (Gr.) 7/42 Cantica canticorum, ðæt seþ on Englisc ealra sanga fyrmest. c1230 Hali Meid. 6 Nim ȝeme hwet euch worð beo sunderliche to seggen. c1350 S. Ambrosius 15 in Horstm. Altengl. Leg. (1878) 8/2 Oþer elles þou maiȝt sei þat Ambros Is seid of ambra and syos: Syos is to seyn ‘God’ riht, And ambrum good sauour pliht. c1386 Chaucer Prioress' T. 71 Noght wiste he what this latyn was to seye, ffor he so yong and tendre was of age. 1450–1530 Myrr. our Ladye 1 These wordes are writen in holy scrypture & are thus to say in englyshe. 1541 Copland Guydon's Quest. Kiij, Pigneum in Arabyke is to saye the ars hole. 1604 E. G[rimstone] D'Acosta's Hist. Indies v. xvii. 374 A lake‥which they call Ezapangue, which is to say, water of blood.


b. that is to say (orig. gerundial inf.): used to introduce a more explicit or intelligible re-statement of what immediately precedes, or a limiting clause necessary to make the statement correct. Sometimes used sarcastically to introduce a statement of the real fact which a quoted statement misrepresents or euphemistically veils. Cf. F. c'est-à-dire.

c1175 Lamb. Hom. 123 Ðet is to seggane: Gif þa hefdmen of þissere worlde hefden icnawen crist. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 3 Aduent þat is seggen on englis ure louerd ihesu cristes tocume. c1330 Spec. Gy de Warewyke 413 Þis is to seie, i telle þe: ‘Þe clene of herte, blessed þeih be’. a1340 Hampole Psalter iv. 1 Þat is at say, fra anguys and sarynes þou has broght me in til brede of gastly ioy. c1386 Chaucer Prol. 181 A fissh þat is waterlees, That is to seyn, a Monk out of his Cloystre. c1391 —— Astrol. Prol. 26 Writen in hir owne tonge, that is to sein, in Latin. 1395 E.E. Wills (1882) 4, I bequethe to the same Thomas, the stoffe longyng therto, that is to seye, my beste fetherbed [etc.]. a1400 in Halliwell Rara Mathem. (1841) 58 Þe perpendicle þat es to say þe threde whereon þe plumbe henges. c1400 Rule St. Benet (Prose) viii. 15 Þat es hele of þa þat ere in sekenes, þat es at say in sinne. c1440 Gesta Rom. xliii. 172 (Harl. MS.), Seing, thus, Quomodo fiet istud? this is to seye, how shulde this be I-done? 1471 Fortescue Wks. (1869) 530 His highnes hath now both titles, that is to saynge his auncient title,‥and this new title. 1486 Bk. St. Albans, Hawking bijb, Bot it tempur yowre hawke that is to say ensayme yowre hawke. 1539 Great Bible title, The Byble in English; that is to saye, the Content of all the Holy Scripture. 1568 Grafton Chron. II. 130 Two Aldermen more‥, that is to say, Arnold Thedmare, & Henry Walmode. 1677 Lauderdale in L. Papers (1885) III. lvii. 89 They pretend they cannot suppress these disorders, that is to say they will doe nothing towards it. 1687 A. Lovell tr. Thevenot's Trav. ii. 25 Three hours after, that's to say, about eleven a Clock. 1864 Bryce Holy Rom. Emp. vi. (1875) 77 Francia Occidentalis, that is to say, Neustria and Aquitaine.


c. to say: = ‘namely’, ‘to wit’. Obs.

1547 Hooper Declar. Christ & Office v. Diij, Sainct Paule callith Christ‥the minister and seruant of the saynctes to say of souche as be here lyuing in this troblyd and persecutyd churche. Ibid. vi. Eviij, Hym that had the imperie and dominion of deathe to say the deuill.


5. a. With obj. an infinitive or a subjunctive clause and const. dative: To tell (a person) to do something. In modern colloq. use: (a) const. for; (b) without const., the personal object being understood from the context.

971 Blickl. Hom. 47 Þæt hi secggan þæm Godes folce þæt hi Sunnandaum & mæssedaum Godes cyrican eorne secan. c1250 Gen. & Ex. 4114 Sey him on ðin stede to gon. a1300 Cursor M. 6063 Says to mi folk on þiskin wis, Þat þai me mak a sacrifice. c1440 Jacob's Well xxxi. 203 Þanne saye hem þat þei take of suche an hucche for þat is trewly gett, & do þat for me. a1533 Ld. Berners Huon lxxxiii. 260 Say vnto hym that he drynke to you in the name of good peace. 1906 Dialect Notes III. 154 The doctor said for me not to eat a pickle. 1929 E. Hemingway Farewell to Arms xii. 87, I woke Georgetti, the other boy who was drunk, and offered him some water. He said to pour it on his shoulder and went back to sleep. 1934 D. L. Sayers Nine Tailors 72 ‘Why is that kept locked, Mr. Godfrey?’‥ ‘So Rector said to fix a lock the way they couldn't get the trap-door open.’ 1946 Publ. Amer. Dial. Soc. vi. 26 She said for us to be there by eight o'clock. 1955 W. Denlinger Complete Boston i. 158 Without asking the price, the woman said to buy the dog. 1959 Times 20 June 7/7 Father said for Chris to take one of the lanterns. 1965 New Statesman 30 Apr. 687/1 On no other terms than as a parody could the book [sc. N. Mailer's American Dream] carry conviction. Its first sentence pals up with Jack Kennedy; its last paragraph includes a message from the grave from Marilyn Monroe (‘Marilyn says to say hello’).


b. In pass., of a person: To be ruled, submit to command or advice. Now dial.

1588 Wills & Inv. N.C. (Surtees 1860) 321 Whom I make my soule executors, equally together, wyllinge and commandinge them that they shalbe sayd and ruled by Ambrose Lancaster and Roger Megson, if [etc.]. 1643 Trapp Comm. Gen. xxxix. 10 Satan will not be said with a little. 1855 Whitby Gloss. s.v. Sayed, In spite of all I can do, she wont be sayed. 1888 ‘R. Boldrewood’ Robbery under Arms xxxix, Father didn't get well all at once. He went back twice‥and wouldn't be said by Aileen.


6. a. With obj. an indirect question: To declare or make known (who, what, how, whether, etc.). †In early use const. dat. of person (equivalent to the modern tell with direct obj.).

a1000 Riddles xx. 9 Saa hwæt ic hatte. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 3 Þis godspel [for Palm Sunday] seð [MS. sed] hu þe helend nehlechede to-ward ierusalem þare burh to dei mid his apostles. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 21 We habbeð bigunnen to sege [? = seȝe] ou on englis hwat bitocneð þe crede [etc.]. c1205 Lay. 4613 Ah ȝef ȝe wullen us seuggen ȝet ȝe mawen libben whonene ȝe beð icumene. a1300 Cursor M. 3853 And siþen he did him for to sai Quat was þe chesiun of his wai. 1390 Gower Conf. I. 222 Bot of Envie, If ther be more in his baillie Towardes love, sai me what. c1449 Pecock Repr. i. iii. 16 Seie to me also where is Holi Scripture is ȝouen the hundrid parti of the teching which [etc.]. c1485 E.E. Misc. (Warton Club) 29 How ferful trowly there is no tong can saye. a1529 Skelton Agst. Garnesche i. 13 But sey me yet, Syr Satropas, what auctoryte ye haue‥to calle me a knaue? 1667 Milton P.L. vii. 40 Say Goddess, what ensu'd. a1771 Gray Amatory Lines 7 Ah! say, Fellow-swains, how these symptoms befell me? 1884 Law Times LXXVII. 369/2 It was not then necessary for the court to say authoritatively whether it was right or not. Mod. Did he say whether he had been successful? How far these figures can be trusted the writer does not say.


b. From the 18th c. often in expressions like ‘it is hard to say’, ‘I cannot say’, where the verb comes contextually to mean: To judge, decide.

1709 Pope Ess. Crit. 1 'Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill Appear in writing or in judging ill. 1736 Butler Anal. i. iii. 52 No one can say, how considerable this Uneasiness and Satisfaction may be. 1891 ‘J. S. Winter’ Lumley x, What the end of it all would have been I really cannot say.


c. absol. In the imperative, introducing a direct question. In early use often const. dat.; = ‘tell (me, us)’. Now only poet.
The U.S. colloquial say seems, when introducing a question as well as when prefixed to a statement of fact, to be a shortening of I say (see 12b).

c1200 Ormin 10292 Seȝȝ uss, arrt tu profete. a1225 Leg. Kath. 2241 Sei, þu Sathanesses sune,‥hwet constu to þeos men þet tu þus leadest? a1300 Cursor M. 5005 ‘Sais me’, coth iacob, ‘how es þis, Þat o mi childir an i misse?’ a1352 Minot Poems (ed. Hall) xi. 25 Say now, sir Iohn of France how saltou fare? 1387 Trevisa Higden (Rolls) IV. 303 Sey me, ȝonge man, was þy moder ever in Rome? a1490 Pope Gregory's Trental 87 in Minor Poems fr. Vernon MS. 263 Sey me, modur, wiþ-outen feyne, Whi art þou put to al þis peyne? 1586 Marlowe 1st Pt. Tamburl. ii. v, Why say theridamas, wilt thou be a king? 1605 Shakes. Lear ii. iv. 142 Say? How is that? 1741–2 Gray Agrippina 92 Tell me, say, This mighty emperor,‥Has he beheld the glittering front of war? 1814 F. S. Key Star-spangled Banner 7 O! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free? 1896 A. E. Housman Shropshire Lad xxiv, Say, lad, have you things to do?


7. To deliver (a speech, a discourse); to relate (a story); to express, give (thanks); to tell, speak (truth, lies); to express (one's opinion). Obs.

c888 K. Ælfred Boeth. xxx. §1 Þa ongon he eft seggan spell & cwæð. 971 Blickl. Hom. 103 On eallum tidum secggan we him þanc ealra his miltsa. c1205 Lay. 3032 Cordoille iherde þa lasinge þe hire sustren seiden þon kinge. Ibid. 4620 We wullet soð sucgen. a1250 Owl & Night. 98 (Jesus MS.) Hwar bi men seggeþ a vorbysne. a1300 Cursor M. 4582 O þis ioseph sai me þi dome, And giue me þar-of god consail. c1350 Will. Palerne 593 Seiȝth me al ȝour seknesse & what so sore ȝow greuis. c1386 Chaucer Man of Law's Prol. 46 But nathelees certeyn I kan right now no thrifty tale seyn. c1380 Wyclif Wks. (1880) 29 Þus crist spekiþ to þe iewis & axeþ hem whi þei bileuen not to hym ȝif he seiþe trewþe. 1429 Rolls of Parlt. IV. 343/1 No persone of the seide Counseill, shall conceyve‥wrath, aȝeins any other of the seide Counseill, for saiying his advys or entent. 1463 Bury Wills (Camden) 17 Item I wyll that Maistr Thomas Harlowe sey the sermon at my interment. 1470 Henry Wallace xi. 1214 Master Barbour, quhilk was a worthi clerk, He said the Bruce amang his othir werk. c1489 Caxton Sonnes of Aymon xxiv. 526 And whan the kyng simon herde mawgis speke so, he said him grete thanke. 1498 Coventry Leet Bk. (E.E.T.S.), There was a solempne sermon seyde, where the Maire there sette betwixt both presidentes. 1544 Patten Exped. Scot. Pref. av, The whiche I had, or rather (to saie truth and shame the deuel, for out it wool) I stale. a1568 R. Ascham Scholem. i. (Arb.) 81 Where they may freely say their mindes. 1657 Burton's Diary (1828) I. 334 Mr. Caryl only prayed, the other two preached, and very good sermons they said.


8. To speak of, mention, enumerate, describe.

a1225 Ancr. R. 346 Lihte gultes beteð þus anonriht, bi ou suluen and þauh siggeð ham ine schrifte. a1375 Joseph Arim. 70, I am not worþi to seyn moni of his werkes. a1400–50 Alexander 5551 And oþir sellis he saȝe at sai wald he neuir. c1400 Destr. Troy 5204 The same yle I said you, Cicill is calt.


9. a. To recite or repeat (something that has a prescribed form); occas. to recite from memory, in contradistinction to reading. Often in traditional collocations, as to say grace, say a lesson, say (a) mass, say a prayer, (say one's prayers).
In ritual use say and sing are sometimes equivalent; but say is the wider term, and seems often to have been applied distinctively to recitation without note.

c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 17 Ich wille‥segge ou þe crede word after word. a1225 Ancr. R. 24 A þisse wise ȝe muwen, ȝif ȝe wulleð, siggen ower Paternostres. a1300 Cursor M. 28248 My prayers say was me ful lathe. 1303 R. Brunne Handl. Synne 10429 Ȝyf one [sc. a mass] for me were specyale seyde. c1330 Chron. Wace (Rolls) 93, I see in song, in sedgeyng tale of Erceldoun & of Kendale, Non þam says as þai þam wroght. a1350 Peter & Paul 292 in Horstm. Altengl. Leg. (1881) 67 Þan to þe body he made him boun And sayd þore his coniurisoun. 1387 Trevisa Higden (Rolls) III. 7 Dauid‥made‥instrumentis of musik, in whiche þe dekenes schulde seie ympnes and songes. 1415 E.E. Wills (1882) 23 That ther be x. Ml. masses Isayde for me of gode prestes. c1430 Pilgr. Lyf Manhode ii. xviii. (1869) 82 The gospel that j haue herd seyd [Fr. chanter] in oure toun. c1431 Rec. St. Mary at Hill 14 An honest Preest sufficiantly lerned in dyvynete to syng & sey dyuyne seruice in the said Chapell. c1530 H. Rhodes Bk. Nurture in Babees Bk. 81 And whyle that grace is saying, friend, looke that ye make no noyse. 1544 Exhort. to Prayer Aixb, That whyche is printed in blacke letters is to be sayde or song of the prieste. 1602 Marston Ant. & Mel. Induct., Faith, we can say our parts. c1616 S. Ward Coal from Altar (1627) 74 Sermons‥so deliuered, as if one were acting a part, or saying a lesson by heart. 1641 J. Trappe Theol. Theol. viii. 307 They could not say Psalmes‥by heart. 1832 W. Palmer Orig. Liturg. I. 244 Collects to be said at matins and evensong. 1858 Longfellow Birds of Passage i. Children ix, Ye are better than all the ballads That ever were sung or said. 1861 M. Pattison Ess. (1889) I. 48 The Germans‥had their own masses said in it [this church] on special days. 1884 J. Gilmour Mongols xviii. 212 In the act of disrobing, prayers are said most industriously.


b. absol. with reference to church services.

c1375 Lay Folks Mass-bk. (B.) 27 When þe preyst says, or yf he syng, To hym þou gyf gud herkenyng. 1439 in Ancestor July (1904) 16, I bequethe to the person for seying and syngynge atte my dirige viijd. 1558 Kennedy in Wodrow Soc. Misc. (1844) 151 He can nolder sing nor say. 1607 Topsell Four-f. Beasts 106 Within a short space none of them were able either to say, reade, pray, or sing, in all the monastery. 1790 Burke Fr. Rev. Wks. V. 291 They are as usefully employed as those who neither sing nor say.


10. On the analogy of expressions like ‘let us say’, ‘shall we say?’, etc. (referable to senses 1–3), where the verb has contextually the sense of ‘suppose’, ‘assume’, the imperative say is idiomatically used: a. to introduce a clause, with the sense ‘supposing’, ‘on the assumption that’; b. parenthetically, to indicate that a preceding sentence expresses a supposition or a selected instance; c. prefixed to a designation of number, quantity, date, etc. to mark it as an approximate guess or as representing a hypothetical case; d. immediately following a word or phrase to show that it represents a supposition, an instance, an approximation, or the like.
In commercial documents say is also used, without any implication of inexactness, to introduce any varied repetition of a numerical or quantitative statement: e.g., ‘a shipment of 215 (say two hundred and fifteen) tons of coal’; ‘thirteen stones (say 182 pounds)’; ‘four editions of 2000 copies each, or say in all 8000 copies’. Cf. Ger. sage, Da. siger, Sw. säger; the two last are indicative present, either 1st or 3rd pers. sing.; Du. has zegge (old form of zeg, 1st pers.), and Fr. has je dis similarly used.

c1596 Sir T. More i. i. 159 Well, say tis read, what is your further meaning in the matter. 1601 Shakes. Twel. N. i. iv. 23 Say I do speake with her (my Lord) what then? 1643 Trapp Comm. Gen. xlvi. 1 But say it had been out of his way. 1656 Earl of Monmouth tr. Boccalini's Advts. fr. Parnass. ii. lxxxvi. (1674) 238 When a Prince, say it be not out of private hatred, but justly doth vex any great Officer. 1736 Butler Anal. i. iii. 66 Pleasure and Pain are indeed to a certain Degree, say to a very high Degree, distributed amongst us without any apparent Regard to the Merit or Demerit of Characters. 1837 Athenæum No. 480, 6 A Venus—say of Parian marble in early Greek style. 1861 Dickens Gt. Expect. lii, Early in the week, or say Wednesday. 1863 Kingsley in Lett. etc. (1877) II. 147 The wages of my people‥average 11s. per week.‥ Harvesting, say £5 more. 1875 Cayley in Q. Jrnl. Pure & Appl. Math. XIII. 321 Radius vectors belonging to the same angle (or say opposite angles). 1876 Gladstone Homeric Synchr. 143 But if the period of (say) 100 years subdivides itself. 1898 Allbutt's Syst. Med. V. 450 Equal volumes of, say, thirty and forty-fold diluted normal acid. 1927 New Republic 12 Oct. 208/1, I daresay the drummer sees no difference between Gary and, say, Newark. 1937 ‘G. Orwell’ Road to Wigan Pier vi. 100 If he were, say, an Indian or Japanese coolie, who can live on rice and onions, he wouldn't get fifteen shillings a week—he would be lucky if he got fifteen shillings a month. 1938 W. Stevens Connoisseur of Chaos in Parts of World (1942) 49 An upper, particular bough in, say, Marchand. 1940 W. Faulkner Hamlet i. ii. 40 In Ratliff it was that hearty celibacy as of a lay brother in a twelfth-century monastery—a gardener, a pruner of vines, say. 1944 S. Bellow Dangling Man 85 Little since then has worked upon me with such force as, say, the sight of a driver trying to raise his fallen horse. 1951 W. Faulkner Requiem for Nun iii. 231 To boil for an instant to the surface like a chip or a twig—a match-stick or a bubble, say, too weightless to give resistance for destruction to function against. 1966 Listener 15 Sept. 388/3 A production volume of say, 20,000 units a year. 1977 L. Meynell Hooky gets Wooden Spoon iii. 40 Come in about six, say. 1977 Proc. Classical Assoc. LXXIV. 14 In very special circumstances, you might be pressured into parenthood; say, you came from a particularly respected royal line which your subjects felt should continue.


11. a. The inf. to say is used in parenthetic phrases with adv. or obj., as so to say, shortly to say, soothly to say; sooth or truth to say, to say (the) truth; shame to say, etc. (Cf. senses 2, 3, 7.) †to say better: = ‘more correctly speaking’.

a1200 Vices & Virtues 11 Soþ to seggen, ic not ȝif ich auerȝete ani ðing dede ðat [etc.]. 1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 3747 Bote to sigge [v.rr. segge, seye] ssortliche þer nas ver ne ner Of prowesse ne of corteisie in þe world is per. a1352 Minot Poems (ed. Hall) i. 81 Þare dwelled oure king, þe suth to saine, With his menȝe a litell while. c1386 Chaucer Prol. 284 For sothe he was a worthy man with alle, But sooth to seyn, I noot how men hym calle. Ibid. 468 Gat tothed was she, soothly for to seye. c1400 Mandeville (1839) xvi. 176 And schortly to seye ȝou; thei suffren [etc.]. 1437 Libel of Eng. Policy in Polit. Poems (Rolls) II. 181 For here martis bene feble, shame to saye. 1484 Caxton Fables of Æsop iv. viii, Oftyme for to saye trouthe men lese theyre lyues. 1577–87 Harrison England ii. i. 136/2 in Holinshed, And to saie truth, one‥of these small liuings is of so little value, that [etc.]. 1585 T. Washington tr. Nicholay's Voy. iv. xv. 130 The auncient towne of the Sun called Heliopolis, or to say better, Solos or Soloe. 1601 Shakes. All's Well ii. ii. 12 And indeed such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the Court. 1710 Swift Jrnl. to Stella 30 Nov., But, to say the truth, the present Ministry have a difficult task, and want me [etc.]. 1823 M. R. Mitford in Lady's Mag. Sept. 501/2 My flowers‥withered and faded and pined away; they almost, so to say, panted for drought. 1845 E. Warburton Crescent & Cross I. 311 We had been already five weeks in Savagedom,‥and, to say the truth, we had had enough of it. 1886 C. E. Pascoe London of To-day xxvi. (ed. 3) 241 Having now, so to say, presented our humble duty to the Lord Mayor‥let us retrace our steps. Ibid. xli. (ed. 3) 354 The investigation of this question, which, truth to say, was one of importance. 1966 Listener 10 Feb. 210/1 The part of the picture so to say nearest you, the foreground, the front plane, is painted to represent a doorway‥which frames the main subject of the picture beyond.


b. not to say…: used (a) to imply that the speaker is content with a more moderate statement than that which he might have made; (b) colloq. = ‘not what one may call…’, ‘not…, properly speaking’.

1736 Ainsworth Lat.-Eng. Dict., Nedum, not to say. 1857 Trollope Barchester T. xliv, ‘Am not I [growing old], my dear?’ ‘No, papa, not old—not to say old’. Mod. His language was irreverent, not to say blasphemous.


c. to say nothing of…: used to refer in passing to subjects that might be used to strengthen the speaker's case; cf. not to mention (so-and-so) (mention v. 1a).

1934 Webster, Say nothing of, not to take into consideration (something too important to be neglected). 1962 Home Managem. (Homecraft Ser.) 27 Much damage is caused to dressing-table and bed-side table tops by spilled cosmetics and perfumes, to say nothing of marks‥caused by that early-morning cup of tea. 1966 Listener 28 July 126/1 In an industry that has experienced Northcliffe, Hearst, and Beaverbrook, to say nothing of Bartholomew and Cudlipp, this seems unlikely. 1976 J. Crosby Nightfall xxxii. 191 Elf was her revolutionary sister-in-arms.‥ To say nothing of her lover.


12. I say has various idiomatic uses. a. Introducing a word, phrase, or statement repeated from the preceding sentence (usually in order to place it in a new connexion). Now somewhat rare.

c1220 Bestiary 680 After him prophetes alle miȝte her non him [Adam] maken on stalle, on stalle, i seie, ðer he er stod. 1540 Great Bible, Ps. cxxx. 6 My soule flyeth vnto the Lorde, before the mornyng watche (I saye) before the mornynge watche. 1563 Winȝet tr. Vincentius Lirin. To Q. Marie, Wks. (S.T.S.) II. 7 The mony diuerse‥sectis, raigeing‥amangis the professouris of Christis name—raigeing I say, nocht only aganis‥the haly, catholik Kirk, bot [etc.]. 1688 Boyle Final Causes iv. 161 For this reason, I say, I thought it a part of my duty. 1719 De Foe Crusoe i. (Globe) 94, I took out one of the Bibles‥; I say, I took it out, and brought both that and the Tobacco with me to the Table. 1833 Keble Serm. vi. (1848) 134 The case is, I say, conceivable, of a government‥deliberately throwing off the restraint. 1906 Belloc Hills & Sea Introd. 11 They took a rotten old leaky boat (they were poor and could afford no other)—they took, I say, a rotten old leaky boat.


b. colloq. quasi-int. Used to call attention to what is about to be said. (In N. Amer. shortened to say.) Also, as a mere exclamation expressive of surprise, delight, dismay, or indignant protest. I say, I say, I say, (theatr.) formula used to introduce a joke; also as attrib. phr.

1611 Beaum. & Fl. Knt. Burning Pest. iii. v, I say, open the doore, and turne me out those mangy companions. 1830 F. Trollope Notebk. in Domestic Manners Americans (1949) 427 Say! 1852 Lantern (N.Y.) I. 122/1 Say—d'you run with our machine? 1857 J. G. Holland Bay Path xxvi. 336 Say! What are you laughing at? 1888 Amer. Humorist 5 May 72/1 Say, boys, let's climb the mountain. 1890 L. Falconer Mlle. Ixe iii. 80, I say! won't it be glorious? 1913 J. London Let. 20 Nov. (1966) 410 The galley stove kept going‥and hot coffee—say! 1931 Punch 24 June 692 (caption) Patient (being shown into very modern consulting-room): ‘I say, I didn't come to be operated on.’ 1932 W. Faulkner Light in August viii. 172 Well, say. Can you tie that. 1967 Listener 3 Aug. 154/3 The sort of performers who, every summer up and down the coasts of England, bounce cheerfully on to a number of creaking stages, shouting ‘Hello, hello, hello!’ or ‘I say, I say, I say!’ 1968 M. Richler in R. Weaver Canad. Short Stories 2nd Ser. 191 The middle-aged couple alighted from the car. ‘Say,’ Mr Cooper said, ‘you've got quite a baby here.’ 1968 in Partridge Dict. Catch Phrases (1977) 104/2 A character, mid-stage, is interrupted by a ‘comic’ rushing up to him yelling ‘I say, I say, I say’. First character shushes him off with ‘Kindly leave the stage’; intruder persists with some fatuous question. 1969 Listener 6 Mar. 314/1 Making idiotic jokes—‘I say, I say’ jokes. 1976 Times 3 Feb. 14/3, I say, I've been to the ballet. 1976 P. Dickinson King & Joker viii. 114 They‥grinned inanely with heads bent‥and legs in the pose of a comedy routine duo. ‘I say I say I say,’ said Louise, ‘your public face isn't as good as mine, darling.’


c. Book-keeping. Formerly used to introduce the correction of an error which the book-keeper perceives as soon as he has made it, but does not expunge, in order not to disfigure the page.

1793 Nemnich Comptoir-Lex., Engl. [with example ‘Bought of M. N. I say Sold M. N.’]


d. I'll say: used to denote enthusiastic assent (either absol. or with object or dependent clause). Also I'll say so.

1924 Dialect Notes V. 276 Say: I'd ——, I'll —— (both approv.). Ibid. 277 So:‥I'll say —— (agreement). 1926 S.P.E. Tract xxiv. 123 I'll say it is, it's my opinion, certainly. 1926 Maines & Grant Wise-Crack Dict. 10/1 I'll say so, emphatic agreement. 1943 N. Marsh Colour Scheme vi. 99 ‘Does he want to keep him quiet?’‥ ‘I'll say! Too right he wants to keep him quiet.’ 1945 P. Cheyney (title) I'll say she does. 1954 E. McLeod tr. Colette's Vagabond i. iv. 35 ‘Hullo, Stephen! Good house?’ ‘I'll say!’ 1960 N. Hilliard Maori Girl 93 ‘Do you miss home much?’ ‘I'll say. Not so much now, though.’ 1972 G. Durrell Catch me a Colobus v. 95 Would we, by any chance, be interested in a pair of leopards? ‘I'll say we would! Why? Do you know where there are some?’ 1974 S. Woods Done to Death 218 ‘You've taken what might have been a knock down blow with a good deal of courage.’ ‘I'll say she has,’ said Hugh. 1979 ‘J. le Carré’ Smiley's People (1980) iv. 53 ‘He was a declining asset, as all ex-agents are.’‥ ‘I'll say,’ said Strickland sotto voce.


13. Combined with advs. a. say away intr. = say on. rare.

1821 Scott Kenilw. viii, Say away, therefore, as confidently as if you spoke to your father.


b. say forth intr. = say on. Obs.

1390 Gower Conf. I. 47 ‘Sey forth’, quod sche, ‘and tell me how’. Ibid. 310 Thus have I, fader, said my wille; Say ye now forth, for I am stille. 1808 [see say n.4 4].


c. say on. In the imperative = ‘say what you wish to say’. Now only intr.; in early use also trans.

13‥ Seuyn Sag. (W.) 1227 ‘Sei on dame!’ and sche bigan To tellen als a fals wimman. 1375 Barbour Bruce xii. 199 Tharfor sais on ȝour will planly. c1489 Caxton Sonnes of Aymon vi. 146 ‘But here my wordes, yf it playse you’. ‘saye on hardely’, sayd the kynge. 1538 Bale God's Promises iv. (1744) 21, I wyll first conclude, and then saye on thy mynde. 1611 Bible 1 Kings ii. 14 He said moreouer, I haue somewhat to say vnto thee. And she saide, Say on. 1667 Milton P.L. viii. 228 Say therefore on. 1851 Tennyson E. Morris 57 Yet say on.


d. say out. trans. (a) To say openly. †(b) To finish saying, say to the end (obs.).

c1407 Lydg. Reas. & Sens. 4583, I say yt out, me lyst nat rovne, Thus ye shuld hir name expovne. 1692 R. L'Estrange Fables ci. 95 He had no sooner say'd out his Say, but [etc.]. 1768, a1843 [see say n.4 4]. 1864 J. H. Newman Apol. iv. (1904) 125/1, I apologize for saying out in controversy charges against the Church of Rome, which withal I affirm that I fully believed at the time when I made them.


e. say over. trans. To repeat from memory.

1560 J. Daus tr. Sleidane's Comm. 231 Let the poorer sorte oftymes saye over theyr Pater noster, and after receyve the Sacrament. 1625 Bacon Ess., Friendship (Arb.) 177 Or that a Man in Anger is as Wise as he that hath said ouer the foure and twenty Letters. 1680 Baxter Answ. Stillingfl. xxxvi. 60 It is lawful to hear an ignorant raw Lad, that saith over a dry Sermon as a Boy saith his Lesson. 1884 W. C. Smith Kildrostan 47 Doris made a comic rhyme of it, And said it over to me.


14. Comb.: say-grace, one who says grace at meals; †say-nay, a refusal; say-nothing a., silent. See also say-so, say-well.

1688 C. Hoole School-Colloq. 35 Perhaps you should have a Say-nay (or a Canvas). 1788 V. Knox Winter Even. I. iii. ii. 243 The race of formal spintexts and solemn say-graces is nearly extinct. 1838 Lytton Alice v. v, She with her quiet, say-nothing manner slips through all my careless questionings. 1853 James Agnes Sorel (1860) I. 98 One of your discreet, see-everything, say-nothing serving-men.