say, v.1 and int.
Present indicative: 2nd singular (archaic
; 3rd singular says
; past indicative: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd singular and plural said
; 2nd singular (archaic
; past participle: said
Present stem. a.
Infinitive (and 1st singular indicative, subjunctive, and participle).
α. eOE saecgan (in prefixed forms), OE saecca (Northumbrian, in prefixed forms), OE sæcca (Northumbrian), OE sæccgan (rare), OE sæcgan, OE sæcgean, OE sægcan, OE sægcga (Northumbrian), OE sæggan (rare), OE seccan (rare), OE seccgan, OE secgan, OE sęcgan (Mercian), OE secgcan, OE secgean, OE secggan, OE secggean, OE segcan (rare), OE segcgan (rare), OE seggan, lOE segcean, eME sæcge, eME sægge, eME secge, eME secȝe, eME sege, eME segge, eME seggenn ( Ormulum), eME seuge, eME seugge, eME sucge, eME suget (with personal pronoun affixed), eME svgge, ME ȝigge (south-eastern, transmission error), ME sedge, ME seygge, ME sig, ME sige, ME sigge, ME suge, ME sugge, ME sygge, ME zigge (south-eastern), ME zygge (south-eastern), 15 zedge (south-western). In Middle English chiefly southern and south-west midlands
Þonne he swulces hwæt secgan wolde.
OE Blickling Homilies 69
Soþ is þæt ic eow secgge.
OE Blickling Homilies 179
Secge Simon me nu..hwæt her si geþoht.
OE Wærferð tr. Gregory Dialogues
iv. viii. 272
Ic wæs sprecende & sæcgende in þære æftran bec þisses weorces.
& lokeþþ wel þatt ȝure nan. Ne segge þuss wiþþ worde.
MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
2nd Ser. 93
He..us bidded alle þerto þus seggende, Venite.
Ich þe Gornoille seuge.
Þis ich sucge [c1300 Otho segge] þe to seoðe.
c1275 Kentish Serm. in J. Hall Select. Early Middle Eng.
We mowe sigge þet stor signefieth þe herte.
Harrowing of Hell
Nou i sege hit þe.
Hi nolleþ yleue god wyþ-oute guod wed, þet is to ziggene, bote yef hi y-zy kuik scele.
Langland Piers Plowman
(Huntington HM 137)
C. xiii. l. 30
For to seggen as thei seen.
a1450 Seven Sages
To loke what he wolde sygge.
v. vii. 54
Iche maie zedge to yowe, Isfearde pulling owte my throte.
β. (a) OE sæge (1st singular indicative, rare), OE sæge (subjunctive singular, rare), OE sægende (participle, rare), OE saego (Northumbrian, 1st singular indicative), OE sægo (Northumbrian, 1st singular indicative), OE saga (1st singular indicative, rare), OE sage (1st singular indicative, rare), OE sęgo (Northumbrian, 1st singular indicative), lOE sægen, lOE sege (Kentish, subjunctive singular), lOE sege (1st singular indicative), lOE segende (Kentish, participle), lOE seige (Kentish, 1st singular indicative), eME sæge, eME sæin, eME sege, eME seiȝc (plural subjunctive, transmission error), eME seige, ME sa, ME saiȝe, ME sayȝe, ME sayhyng (participle), ME se, ME seey, ME seeyne, ME seȝe, ME seȝȝe, ME seiȝ, ME seiȝe, ME seih, ME sein, ME seine, ME seyȝ, ME seyȝe, ME seygh, ME seyȝn, ME seyn, ME seynt (transmission error), ME seyy, ME sy (perhaps transmission error), ME (15–16 archaic) sayn, ME (15–16 archaic) sayne, ME (15–17 archaic) saine, ME (15–18 archaic) sain, ME–15 sei, ME–15 seie, ME–15 seye, ME–15 seyne, ME–15 (19– regional) sey, ME–16 sai, ME–16 saie, ME–16 saye, ME– say, lME seme (transmission error), 15 sayen (archaic), 15 sene (archaic), 16 zay (south-western); English regional 17 sey (Lancashire), 17– zay (south-western), 18 sayen (south-western), 18 zey (south-western), 18– saay (Lincolnshire); Scottish pre-17 sa, pre-17 sae, pre-17 sai, pre-17 saine (poetic), pre-17 sane (poetic), pre-17 saye, pre-17 sayn (poetic), pre-17 sayne (poetic), pre-17 seay, pre-17 sene (poetic), pre-17 seye, pre-17 17– say, pre-17 19– sey; (b) With personal pronoun affixed eME sawe, eME sayt; Scottish (with it) pre-17 said, pre-17 saide, pre-17 sayd. b.
OE (Northumbrian) Lindisf. Gospels: Matt. xxi. 21
Amen dico uobis : soðlice ic sægo iuh.
OE (Northumbrian) Lindisf. Gospels: Matt. xxvi. 63
Ut dicas nobis : þæt ðu sæge us.
cxxxi. 3 in H. Gneuss Hymnar u. Hymnen im englischen Mittelalter
Semper dicentes : æfre sægende.
lOE Anglo-Saxon Chron.
Þa herdon þa munecas of Burh sægen þet heora agene menn wolden hergon þone mynstre.
?a1160 Anglo-Saxon Chron.
Suilc & mare þanne we cunnen sæin.
MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
2nd Ser. 119
Þe fewe word þe we on ure bede seien.
Siker ich it te saiȝe.
in G. H. McKnight Middle Eng. Humorous Tales
Y may say, hay wayleuay!
a1375 William of Palerne
Forto seiȝ al þe soþe.
Quat þan sal we sai [Fairf. sayne, Trin. Cambr. sey] to þaim?
Medit. on Supper of our Lord
He..cumforted hem ful feyre, seyyng, ‘Ȝyt a whyle y am with ȝow now.’
c1430 Compleynt in J. Schick Lydgate's Temple of Glas
And of on thyng, soth for to seyne, I haue gret mater to compleyne.
?c1450 tr. Bk. Knight of La Tour Landry
That is to sein, sen God was borne of the holy mayden Marie.
St. Ninian 276 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial.
For ocht þat he cuth sa ore do.
1513 G. Douglas tr. Virgil Æneid iii. ix. 96
For, quhow grislie and quhow greit I ȝow sane Lurkis Poliphemus.
a1547 Earl of Surrey Poems
I dare well sayen.
1621 R. Montagu Diatribæ Hist. Tithes 118
To say bo to a battledore.
a1643 W. Cartwright Ordinary
ii. ii. 62
Ah benedicite I might soothly sayne.
1740 ‘T. Bobbin’ View Dial. 8
Een raddle meh hoyd titely, sey I.
1795 ‘P. Pindar’ Royal Visit Exeter i. 4
But than agan Iss can't but zay.
1865 A. C. Swinburne Masque Queen Bersabe in Poems & Ballads 345
Lord God, alas, what shall I sain?
1871 Trollope Sir Harry Hotspur v. 54
Unless he say so, the teller of this tale does not know how to tell his tale truly.
1942 L. Bennett Jamaica Dial. Verses 21
Me did tink me always hear sey Missis Queen bannish slavery lang time.
1980 P. Bowles Let. 12 Jan. in In Touch
It goes without saying that luxuries such as meat..will soon be unobtainable.
2000 N. Griffiths Grits
Shite, a sey.
2nd singular indicative.
α. (a) eOE sagas (Mercian, in prefixed forms), OE sægast (rare), OE sæges (Northumbrian), OE sægest, OE sægst, OE sagast, OE segest, OE segs (before personal pronoun, rare), OE segst, lOE sagest, eME sæȝest, eME scist (transmission error), eME seȝȝst ( Ormulum), eME seȝst, ME sais (chiefly northern), ME saiyst, ME sayes (chiefly northern and north midlands), ME saysse (northern), ME saytȝ (north-west midlands), ME seiest, ME seiist, ME seis (chiefly northern and north midlands), ME seith, ME seiyst, ME sest, ME seyes, ME seyst, ME seyste, ME seyth, ME zayst (south-eastern), ME (chiefly northern and north midlands) 18 says, ME–15 sayste, ME–15 seist, ME–15 seiste, ME–16 saiest, ME–16 saist, ME– sayest (now archaic), ME– sayst (now archaic), 15–18 say'st, 16 zest (south-western), 17 seys (English regional (Lancashire)); also Scottish pre-17 sais, pre-17 sayis, pre-17 says, pre-17 seis; (b) With personal pronoun affixed ME saiste (in a late copy), ME saistou, ME saistow, ME saystowe, ME saystu, ME seiste, ME seistou, ME seistow, ME seistu, ME seyste, ME seysthow, ME seystow, ME seystu.
OE Vercelli Homilies
Soð þu segest, cining ic eom.
OE Blickling Homilies 179
On þone þu leogende sagast þæt þu sie þæt he is.
Ȝiff þu seȝȝst. tatt tu lufesst godd.
MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
1st Ser. 39
Þenne þu seist Dimitte nobis debita nostra.
Owl & Nightingale
Seistu [a1300 Jesus Oxf. seystu] þis for mine shome.
Chron. Robert of Gloucester
‘Wat seiste,’ quaþ þis gode erl.
Adam, now wel sais þou.
1445 tr. Claudian's De Consulatu Stilichonis in Anglia
Thou seith of hem evir wele.
Merlin i. 17
We may neuer bileve that this be trewe that thow seiste.
?1548 tr. P. Viret Verie Familiare Expos. Art. Christian Faieth sig. Aivv
The thynge is euen as thou sayest.
1602 Contention Liberalitie & Prodigalitie i. iv. sig. B2v
Bur Lady, zonne, zest true.
1667 Milton Paradise Lost v. 818
Unjust thou saist Flatly unjust.
a1771 T. Gray Agrippina in Poems
Say'st thou I must be cautious.
1831 Scott Count Robert viii, in Tales of my Landlord 4th Ser. II. 189
Thou say'st a painful truth.
1856 E. Edmondston Sketches & Tales Shetland Islands ix. 103
If what thou says be true, thou shall have for an awmous that glass.
1926 D. L. Sayers Clouds of Witness xii. 223
Two on 'ee, sayst a?
1994 J. Updike Brazil xxi. 171
As thou sayest, brother, a children's toy.
β. eME segges, eME seggesst ( Ormulum), ME seggeȝ, ME seggist, ME siggest; N.E.D. (1910) also records a form lME seggest. c.
& seggesst swillc & swillc wass þu.
Nu þu hauest iseid tus & þuncheð þat tu segges soð.
Joseph of Arimathie
Þat al þi reume schal seo þat þou wrong siggest.
Fare forthe..and fech as þou seggez.
c1450 Jack Upland's Rejoinder
l. 193 in P. L. Heyworth Jack Upland
Þe secte þat þou seggist of.
3rd singular indicative.
α. eOE seged (Mercian, transmission error), OE sæg (transmission error), OE saeges (Northumbrian), OE sæges (Northumbrian), OE saegeð (Northumbrian), OE sægeþ, OE sægeð, OE sægþ, OE sægð, OE sægyð (rare), OE sæig (probably transmission error), OE sæigð, OE sagaþ, OE sagað, OE segd (transmission error), OE segeþ, OE segeð, OE segþ, OE segð, OE segyð (rare), OE seigð, OE–eME sæið, OE–eME seið, lOE sagð, lOE segh (transmission error), lOE siegð (Kentish), lOE–ME seiþ, eME reiȝð (transmission error), eME sæȝeð, eME sæȝð, eME sæiþ, eME sæiðe, eME sæð, eME saȝð, eME saið, eME sayd, eME sed, eME seȝd, eME seȝeð, eME seȝȝþ ( Ormulum), eME seȝh, eME seȝþ, eME seȝð, eME sehȝ, eME sehð, eME seid, eME seiet, eME seieð, eME seiȝeð, eME seiȝþ, eME seiðe, eME seiz, eME seyd, eME seyð, eME syeð, ME saise, ME sait, ME saiþ, ME saiþe, ME saitȝ, ME saiy (north-east midlands), ME saiyth, ME sas, ME satȝ (north-west midlands), ME sathe, ME sayeȝ (north-west midlands), ME sayȝ (north-west midlands), ME sayȝt, ME sayȝth, ME sayis (chiefly northern), ME sayse, ME sayt, ME sayþ, ME sayþe, ME saytȝ (north-west midlands), ME saytz, ME sayyth, ME sees, ME seȝeþ, ME seȝth, ME seied, ME seies, ME seieþ, ME seieth, ME seiȝ (north-east midlands), ME seis, ME seist (perhaps transmission error), ME seit, ME seiþe, ME seitȝ, ME seithe, ME seiy (north-east midlands), ME seiyth, ME seþ, ME setȝ, ME seth, ME sethe, ME setth, ME seyce, ME seyeht, ME seyes, ME seyet, ME seyeþ, ME seyethe, ME seyȝ (north-east midlands), ME seyȝeth, ME seyght, ME seyȝt, ME seyȝth, ME seyht, ME seyis, ME seyith, ME seyithe, ME seyse, ME seysse, ME seyt, ME seyþ, ME seyþe, ME seytȝ, ME seythe, ME seytht, ME seyyth, ME seyz, ME zaiþ (south-eastern), ME zayt (south-eastern), ME zayþ (south-eastern), ME–15 saiethe, ME–15 sais, ME–15 seith, ME–15 seyeth, ME–15 seys, ME–15 seyth, ME–16 saies, ME–16 saieth, ME–16 saithe, ME–16 sayes, ME–16 sayethe, ME–16 sayth, ME–16 saythe, ME– saith (now archaic), ME– sayeth (now archaic), ME– says; English regional 17 seyth, 18 sayth, 18– ses, 18– sez, 18– zays (south-western); Scottish pre-17 saies, pre-17 saiis, pre-17 sayes, pre-17 sayeth, pre-17 sayis, pre-17 sayith, pre-17 seis, pre-17 seys, pre-17 17– says, pre-17 19– sais, 19– sehs; also Irish English (northern) 18– sez, 19– siz.
OE Blickling Homilies 27
Her sagaþ Matheus se godspellere.
OE Blickling Homilies 55
Her segþ hu se æþela lareow wæs sprecende.
He seȝȝþ uss þatt [etc.].
MS Vesp. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
1st Ser. 239
Þan seied ham god..ȝe seneȝeden an ȝeur ecenesse.
He seyt he haþ don þis.
Als sais [Gött. sas, Fairf. saise, Trin. Cambr. seiþ] þe stori.
R. Mannyng Chron.
But þat seynt Bede of þem alle seys, Elles schulde non haue knowe what weys.
?a1513 W. Dunbar Flyting in Poems
He sayis [etc.].
1523 Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart Cronycles I. ccclxxxvii. 661
If it be as he dothe, it is as he saythe.
1600 in C. M. Ingleby & L. T. Smith Shakespeare's Cent. Prayse
He sayeth that [etc.].
a1631 J. Donne Poems
Who saies my teares have overflow'd his ground?
1753 T. Gray Long Story in Six Poems 19
So Rumour says.
1763 ‘T. Bobbin’ Toy-shop
To Rdr. p. x
Otto con tell th' tele, and seyth 'Rimes be rot, titely.
1819 Scott Ivanhoe III. iii. 76
For what saith holy writ.
1887 W. E. Henley Culture in Slums i. 1
‘O crikey, Bill!’ she ses to me, she ses.
1913 E. M. Wright Rustic Speech & Folk-lore xviii. 309
This gurt pig zays, I wants meeat.
1996 M. Fitt Pure Radge 10
Elaine sehs she's awa doon the murraygait.
2014 Vanity Fair Apr. 158/3
When the wearer says, ‘O.K., Glass,’ the glasses leap into action.
β. OE sæcgað (Northumbrian, rare), OE sæcgð (in prefixed forms, rare), OE secgþ (rare), OE secgð (rare), lOE secgeð, lOE seggað, lOE–eME seggeð, lOE–ME seggeþ, eME suggeþ, eME suggeð, ME segges, ME sigges, ME siggeþ. d.
OE Ælfric Homily
in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric
Swa swa seo boc us secgð.
lOE Wulfstan Baptism
(Corpus Cambr. 302)
Swa hwæt swa him man to heora agenre ðearfe secgeð.
Ypocras seggeþ, þæt seo untrunyss cymþ of þringum [read þrim þingum].
Vices & Virtues
Ðe hali apostel..seggeð þat..karitas is heiȝest.
Þe king þe greteþ Bas[i]an an seggeþ mid sore þat he nele na more.
Joseph of Arimathie
Þenne spekes a vois and on heiȝ sigges.
a1450 York Plays
Agayne Sir Cesar hym selfe he segges and saies.
α. eOE secgad (Mercian, transmission error), OE sæcgas (Northumbrian), OE sæcgaþ, OE sæcgeað, OE sægcas (Northumbrian), OE sægcaþ (Mercian), OE sægces (Northumbrian), OE seccað (rare), OE secgat (perhaps transmission error), OE secgað, OE secgcaþ, OE secgce (before personal pronoun), OE secgeaþ, OE secgeað, OE secggeað, OE segcaþ, OE segcgað, OE seggaþ, OE segge (before personal pronoun), OE seicgaþ, OE–eME sæcgað, OE–eME secgaþ, OE–eME secge (before personal pronoun), OE–eME seggað, lOE secgeð, lOE–eME seggeð, eME sæcgæþ, eME sæcgæð, eME sæcge (before personal pronoun), eME sæggæð, eME sæggeð, eME secgæð, eME segeþ, eME segeð, eME segez, eME segged, eME seggenn ( Ormulum), eME seggez, eME siggeð, eME siggit, eME siggitȝ, eME sigit, eME sugeð, eME suggeð, ME sege, ME segen, ME segge, ME seggen, ME segget, ME seggeþ, ME seggeth, ME seggyth, ME segyth, ME sigge, ME siggen, ME siggeþ, ME suggen, ME suggeþ, ME sygge, ME syggen, ME syggeþ, ME syggyþ, ME ziggeþ (south-eastern), ME zyggeþ (south-eastern).
OE Blickling Homilies 125
Þa men secgaþ.
OE Paris Psalter
Hi oftust sprecað, unnyt sæcgeað and..wyrceað unriht.
MS Vesp. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
1st Ser. 237
Of þe folce we siggeð þat hit cumþ fastlice fram middenardes anginn.
Summe bokes suggeð [c1300 Otho seggeþ] to iwisse þat [etc.].
Langland Piers Plowman
B. xi. l. 425
Ȝe seggen soth.
T. Castleford Chron.
Þai sai and sege [rhyme priuilege].
Ȝe segge vylonye.
a1525 Eng. Conquest Ireland
Some syggen [a1500 Rawl. sayne] that the kynge lete to-draw the traytours.
β. OE saegas (Northumbrian), OE sægas (Northumbrian, in prefixed forms), OE sægað (perhaps transmission error), lOE seagað (Kentish), lOE segaþ, lOE segeþ (Kentish), eME saið, eME seȝað, eME seigen, eME seiȝeð, ME sain, ME sais, ME saise, ME saiþ, ME saith, ME saiþe, ME sane, ME sas, ME sayeþ, ME sayethe, ME sayȝen, ME sayis, ME sayth, ME se, ME sei, ME seieþ, ME seiȝe, ME sein, ME seine, ME seis, ME seise, ME seiþ, ME seith, ME seye, ME seyeþ, ME seyeth, ME seyȝ (north-east midlands), ME seyin, ME seyne, ME seys, ME seyt, ME seyþ, ME seyþe, ME seythe, ME seyyn, ME seyyth, ME syn, ME–15 saien, ME–15 saies, ME–15 sayen, ME–15 sayn, ME–15 sayne, ME–15 says, ME–15 seie, ME–15 seien, ME–15 seyen, ME–15 seyn, ME–15 seyth, ME–15 (19– regional) sey, ME–16 sai, ME–16 saie, ME–16 saine, ME–16 saye, ME–16 sayes, ME– say, 15 sayin; English regional 17– zay (south-western), 18 sen (Yorkshire), 18– says (north midlands), 19– sayen (Lancashire); Scottish pre-17 sae, pre-17 sais, pre-17 sane (poetic), pre-17 sayis, pre-17 says, pre-17 sayth, pre-17 se, pre-17 seys, pre-17 17– say; N.E.D. (1910) also records a form ME seyithe. e.
OE (Northumbrian) Lindisf. Gospels: Matt. xvi. 20
Ut nemini dicerent : þæt nænigum menn cueðas uel saegas.
lOE Canterbury Psalter: Canticles x. 48
Beatam me dicent omnes generationes : eadige me seagað ealle cneoressa.
MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
2nd Ser. 71
We..seien hem ure ateliche sinnes þe we hauen don.
Gen. & Exod.
Ebruis seigen wune hem wex her To algen ilu fiftene ger.
Þai leiȝen al bi dene Þat sain he dar nouȝt fiȝt Wiþ his fo.
Langland Piers Plowman
A. vii. l. 122
Ȝif hit beo soþ þat ȝe seyen.
Medit. on Supper of our Lord
Sum seyþ, ‘saue þy selfe, ȝyf þou kunne.’
Als clerkes sais.
a1475 J. Fortescue Governance of Eng.
To this sane [v.rr. sayn, sayen] suche lordes and oþer men.
1490 Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon
Wene ye that I shall do that ye saye for fere of deth?
1554 D. Lindsay Dialog Experience & Courteour l. 6032 in Wks.
Than sall one Fyre, as Clerkis sane, Mak all the hyllis and valais plane.
1563 N. Winȝet tr. St. Vincent of Lérins For Antiq. Catholik Fayth ii. f. 55v
We al says the samyn.
1579 J. Stubbs Discouerie Gaping Gulf sig. C5v
A new match betweene hym and Marguerit daughter of a French Charles, as most men saien.
1581 G. Pettie tr. S. Guazzo Ciuile Conuersat. i. f. 11
What say you of this?
1602 N. Breton Mothers Blessing B 4 b
But harken to the shepheards what they saine, Both of the Sunshine, and a showre of raine.
1631 B. Jonson Bartholmew Fayre ii. ii. 20 in Wks. II
They say, a fooles handsell is lucky.
1850 C. Kingsley Alton Locke II. vii. 89
They says they can't afford to work the land 'emselves.
1894 G. Du Maurier Trilby II. 158
As we say in France.
1927 D. H. Lawrence Mornings in Mexico 174
They say: in vino veritas. Bah! They say so much!
1985 J. Agard Miss Lou on Stage in Mangoes & Bullets 57
But old people sey not every skinteeth is laugh.
2005 S. Elmes Talking for Brit. ii. 31
There's piskies up to Dartymoor, and tidden good ye zay there baint.
α. OE saeg (Northumbrian), OE sæg (Anglian), OE sæga, OE saege (Northumbrian), OE sæge, OE sægi (Northumbrian), OE saga, OE sage (rare), OE sege, lOE seige, lOE siege (Kentish, in prefixed forms), eME sæȝ, eME saeȝe, eME sæȝe, eME sæi, eME sæie, eME sæiȝe, eME seg, eME seȝȝ ( Ormulum), eME seien (south-west midlands), eME seiȝe, eME seih, eME seit (with personal pronoun affixed), ME sa (northern), ME sai, ME sais (northern), ME sei, ME seie, ME zay (south-eastern), ME–15 saie, ME–15 sey, ME–16 saye, ME–16 seye, ME– say, 16 saine (archaic); also Scottish pre-17 sa.
OE (Mercian) Rushw. Gospels: Matt. xxii. 17
Dic ergo nobis : sæg þonne us.
OE Riddle 19 9
Saga hwæt ic hatte.
OE Blickling Homilies 233
Sæge us þæt hrædlice.
Lef maȝȝstre seȝȝ uss nu þin raþ.
Seie [c1300 Otho sei] me Locrin saie me læðe mon.
a1300 Passion our Lord 585 in R. Morris Old Eng. Misc.
Saye heom þat ich astye to mynes vader riche.
Sai [Fairf. say] þou; i der noght til him speke.
1513 G. Douglas tr. Virgil Æneid vi. v. 46
Say me, virgyne, quod Enee.
1600 ‘Ignoto’ in Englands Helicon sig. Liii
Yet what is Loue, good Sheepheard saine?
1747 T. Gray Ode Eton Coll. 4
Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen Full many a sprightly Race.
1883 R. Broughton Belinda II. ii. iv. 42
Say that it is not true!
1999 S. Rushdie Ground beneath her Feet
Say yes to life.
β. OE sæcg (rare), OE secg (rare). (ii).
OE St. Margaret
Sæcg me, Margareta, hwanon is..þin geleafa?
α. eOE seggað (Mercian), OE sæcgas (Northumbrian), OE sæcgaþ, OE sæcgað, OE sægcas (Northumbrian), OE seccað (rare), OE secgaþ, OE sęcgaþ (Mercian), OE secgeað, OE secggæþ (in prefixed forms), OE secggaþ, OE–eME secgað, lOE secgæþ (Kentish), lOE secgæð (Kentish, in prefixed forms), lOE secgeð, lOE segcæþ (Kentish), eME sæcgð, eME segeð, eME segged, eME segget, eME seggeð, eME seggez, eME siggeð, eME siggit, eME suggeð, ME segge, ME seggeþ, ME seggeth, ME sigge.
OE Blickling Homilies 71
Secggaþ Siones dohtrum þæt heora cining cymeþ.
OE Paris Psalter
Secgeað his wundorweorc.., secgað his wundor.
MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
1st Ser. 3
Segged þet þe lauerd haued þar-of neode.
Owl & Nightingale
Segge [a1300 Jesus Oxf. seggeþ] me ȝif ȝe hit wiste.
Suggeð [c1300 Otho seggeþ] me to runun ræd þat eou þunche.
Lordynges..Off thys ilke message segge me sone.
β. OE sægað (rare), OE sægeað (in prefixed forms, rare), lOE seagæð (Kentish, in prefixed forms), lOE seigað (Kentish), ME sai, ME saie, ME sais, ME saise, ME saye, ME sayeþ, ME sayeth, ME says, ME sayþ, ME saythe, ME sei, ME seieþ, ME seieth, ME seiȝth, ME seis, ME seiþe, ME seith, ME seyeþ, ME seyeth, ME seyȝt, ME seyith, ME seys, ME seyth, ME seyyth, ME syhtthe, ME sythe, ME–15 sey, ME– say; also Scottish pre-17 sa, pre-17 sais, pre-17 says; N.E.D. (1910) also records forms lME sayth, lME seie. 2.
OE Monastic Canticles
Dicite pusillanimes : sægað ge lytlingas.
lOE Canterbury Psalter: Canticles i. 5
Annuntiate hoc in universa terra : seigað ðis on eælre eorðæn.
in G. H. McKnight Middle Eng. Humorous Tales
Yu hel me noth, yu say me sone.
a1375 William of Palerne
Seiȝth me al ȝour seknesse.
To fotte mi fader sal yee fund, And sais him i am hale and sund.
1450 J. Fastolf in Paston Lett. & Papers
And sey hem on my half that they shall be qwyt.
a1529 J. Skelton Poems against Garnesche in Poet Wks.
But sey me now, Syr Satrapas, what autoryte ye haue?
a1616 Shakespeare Macbeth
i. iii. 76
Say..why Vpon this blasted Heath you stop our way?
c1728 Earl of Ailesbury Mem. 626
Say, and keep to what you say.
1808 R. Southey Select. from Lett.
Say what you have to say.
1964 L. B. Honwana in R. Rive Mod. Afr. Prose 108
Say that again and I'll bash your face in.
2002 Journalist Aug. 5/2
If you pay tax, please say so in a covering letter.
Past tense. (a)
, eOE sęgde
, OE saegde
), OE sagode
), OE sęde
, OE segde
), OE seid
(transmission error), OE–eME sæde
, OE–eME sægde
, OE–ME sede
, lOE saede
, lOE sæigde
, lOE segede
, lOE siede
), lOE–eME sæide
, lOE–15 seide
, eME sæȝde
, eME saigde
, eME seaide
, eME seȝȝde
), ME sad
, ME sayt
, ME sead
, ME seed
, ME seeyde
, ME seiede
, ME seiid
, ME seydde
, ME seydh
(probably transmission error), ME seyed
, ME seyede
, ME seyȝ
), ME seyid
, ME seyt
, ME side
, ME syde
, ME zayde
), ME zeayde
), ME zede
), ME–15 saed
, ME–15 sayede
, ME–15 seid
, ME–15 seied
, ME–15 seyd
, ME–15 seyde
, ME–16 sade
, ME–16 saide
, ME–16 saied
, ME–16 sayd
, ME–16 sayde
, ME–16 (17– regional
, ME–17 sayed
, ME– said
, lME saydy
(transmission error), 15–17 say'd
; English regional
), 19– sid
; U.S. regional
(in African-American usage), 19– zaid
, pre-17 sade
, pre-17 saed
, pre-17 saide
, pre-17 sayde
, pre-17 sayid
, pre-17 sayit
, pre-17 sead
, pre-17 sed
, pre-17 seyd
, pre-17 seyde
, pre-17 17– said
, pre-17 19– sayd
, pre-17 19– sayed
; also Irish English
), 18– sayed
), 18– sid
) also records a form ME seȝede
With personal pronoun affixed ME saidestow
, ME seidestow
, ME seidich
, ME seydestow
eOE tr. Bede Eccl. Hist.
v. xi. 416
Segdon þæt hio hefdon nyt ærende.
OE (Northumbrian) Lindisf. Gospels: Mark xiv. 57
Et quidam surgentes falsum testimonium ferebant : & summ monn aras leas gecyðnise sægdon [Rushw. sægdun; West Saxon Gospels: Corpus Cambr. sædon, c1175 Royal sægdon, c1200 Hatton saigden].
Acc do swa summ þu seȝȝdesst.
131 in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
2nd Ser. 224
Drihte self hit sade.
Þa cnihtes biliue comen to þan reue & þus him to sæiden [c1300 Otho sayde].
Þou said [Fairf. saide, Trin. Cambr. seidest] for me if mister war, to ded thole suld þou fight.
Chaucer Troilus & Criseyde
i. l. 912
So seydestow ful ofte.
St. Peter 83 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial.
He sad, he subuertit nocht.
J. Mirk Festial
By vertu of þe holy wordys þat þe prest sayed þer.
1562 N. Winȝet Certain Tractates
He sayd nocht, the thingis haldin of hald.
1598 Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 1 ii. v. 199
What foure? thou saidst but two euen now.
c1610–15 Life St. Edburge in C. Horstmann Lives Women Saints
He..with execration sayed: ‘If I haue committed this theft [etc.]’.
1645 Milton L'Allegro in Poems 34
She was pincht, and pull'd she sed.
1734 T. Cooke Self-tormentor v. ii. 175
That which you say'd I was so omissive in.
1769 T. Gray Inscript. Villa in New Foundling Hosp. for Wit: Pt. 3rd 35
Ah! (said the sighing peer) had Bute been true.
1850 E. B. Browning Felicia Hemans ii
No need of flowers—albeit ‘bring flowers’, thou saidest.
1881 J. Sargisson Joe Scoap's Jurneh 25
He fairly sed hissel oot.
1999 T. Etchells Endland Stories 136
Jonesy got a tattoo that sed Nostalghia.
2013 N.Y. Rev. Bks. 24 Oct. 29/1
‘Salaam aleikum,’ he said.
α. OE gesæd, OE gesaegd (Northumbrian), OE sæged (Northumbrian, in prefixed forms (not ge-)), OE gesægd, OE gesæið (perhaps transmission error), OE sægd, OE segd (chiefly Mercian), OE–eME sæd, OE (in prefixed forms (not ge-))–ME sead, lOE gesed, eME ȝesæd, eME ȝesed, eME isæd, eME isæȝd, eME isæid, eME isait, eME iseaid, eME isegd, eME iseit, eME iseið, eME seȝȝd ( Ormulum), eME sehid, eME sei (probably transmission error), eME sey (probably transmission error), ME isaid, ME isaide, ME isayd, ME isayde, ME ised, ME iseid, ME iseide, ME iseiid, ME iseyd, ME iseyde, ME jsaide, ME jsayde, ME sad, ME saede, ME sai (transmission error), ME sayt, ME sede, ME seedy (transmission error), ME seit, ME ysade, ME ysaid, ME ysaide, ME ysaied, ME ysayd, ME ysayde, ME ysed, ME yseid, ME yseide, ME yseit, ME yseyd, ME yseyde, ME yzed (south-eastern), ME (17– regional and nonstandard) sed, ME–15 saed, ME–15 saiede, ME–15 seid, ME–15 seide, ME–15 seied, ME–15 seyd, ME–15 seyde, ME–15 seyed, ME–15 ysayd, ME–15 ysayde, ME–15 ysed, ME–16 sade, ME–16 saide, ME–16 saied, ME–16 sayd, ME–16 sayde, ME–16 sayed, ME– said, 15 sayede, 15 seede, 15–17 say'd; English regional 17 a zed (south-western), 18 sayed (northern), 18– a-zaid (south-western), 18– zaid (south-western), 18– zed (south-western), 19– a-said (south-western), 19– sid (midlands); Scottish pre-17 sad, pre-17 sade, pre-17 saed, pre-17 saidd- (inflected form), pre-17 saide, pre-17 sayd, pre-17 saydd- (inflected form), pre-17 sayde, pre-17 sayed, pre-17 sayid, pre-17 scaid (transmission error), pre-17 sead, pre-17 sed, pre-17 sedde, pre-17 sede, pre-17 seid, pre-17 seyd, pre-17 seyde, pre-17 17– said; also Irish English (northern) 19– sayed, 19– sid.
eOE (Mercian) Vespasian Psalter
ci. 19 (22)
Ut adnuntietur in sion nomen domini : ðæt sie segd in sion noma dryht'.
eOE tr. Orosius Hist.
i. xiv. 35
Nu is hit scortlice ymbe þæt gesægd.
OE tr. Bili St. Machutus 5
Hit is sæd þæt he wæs se gety[ddo]sta on þam cræfte.
MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies
1st Ser. 47
Þeos ilke weord þe ic habbe her iseit habbeð muchele bi-tacnunge.
Hit is said in lede: Cold red is quene red.
Chron. Robert of Gloucester
As ichabbe ysed [c1425 Harl. yseit].
Quen þai had sai[d] [Gött. sayd, Trin. Cambr. seide; c1460 Laud seid] þat þai wald sai.
1490 Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon
All that they had sayed.
1515 in Coll. Surrey Archæol. Soc.
I will that there be seede..v masses.
1557 Primer Sarum (Dirige Ps. xxvi.) I vij
My heart hath saied set vnto thee.
1567 G. Turberville tr. Ovid Heroycall Epist. 116
Alas poore wretch, my Phaon I had very neare ysed.
a1682 Sir T. Browne Christian Morals
Nothing can be said Hyperbolically of God.
a1699 A. Halkett Autobiogr.
To take that upon him hee had never Saied.
c1710 R. North Musical Grammarian
(MS BL Add. 32537)
in G. Strahle Early Mus. Dict.
Nothing is so comon as to hear it say'd.
1746 Exmoor Courtship in Gentleman's Mag. Jan. 299/2
Yow won't be a zed.
1855 F. K. Robinson Gloss. Yorks. Words 146
She wont be sayed.
1893 Cumberland Pacquet 14 Dec. 6/1
It was sed to be a ‘routhy’ time when t'pig was kilt.
1978 M. McLaverty Coll. Short Stories
When all was said and done, she had some sense in her head.
2007 J. McCourt Now Voyagers iii. 103
Nuff sed, as they say in Gotham.
β. ME sayn, ME sayne, ME seyen, ME seyn, 15–16 saine; English regional (Yorkshire) 18– saan, 18– sayn; Scottish 18 sen, 18– sain, 19– sayen.
Langland Piers Plowman
B. xvii. l. 22
And sexty þousande bisyde forth þat ben nouȝt seyen here.
Chaucer Squire's Tale
(Laud Misc. 600)
Whan he haþ al wel sayn þan haþ he don.
?a1475 Ludus Coventriae
I josophat..All þat my progenitouris hath be-for me seyn [rhyme serteyn], Feythfully be-leve with-owtyn all dubytacion.
Pees shall ther neuer be sayne [rhymes mayne, slayne] Or thy sydes be throw sought.
a1592 R. Greene Comicall Hist. Alphonsus
ii. sig. C3v
Thou..Shall well repent the words which you haue saine.
1610 G. Fletcher Christs Victorie 49
O depth, without a depth, farre better seene then, saine.
1862 C. C. Robinson Dial. Leeds & Neighbourhood 398
Wi' tuh be sayn be muh then?
1873 A. Anderson Song of Labour 78
I never said wrang was the word he had sain.
a1901 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden
Afore ye cudda sain Jeck Robison.
1969 in Sc. National Dict.
VIII. at Say
[Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeenshire, Angus] Sayen.
γ. lME seggid.
a1450 York Plays
Tille I haue seggid and saide all my sawe.
δ. lME sadyn, lME saydyn, lME seden. (Show Less)
J. Yonge tr. Secreta Secret.
Prayer othyrwhyle is sadyn a good worke.
J. Yonge tr. Secreta Secret.
Of the vertu of Iustice afor in this boke Is largely Saydyn.
Frequency (in current use):
Origin: A word inherited from Germanic.
Cognate with Old Frisian sega
(West Frisian sizze
), Old Dutch sagon
(Middle Dutch seggen
, Dutch zeggen
), Old Saxon seggian
, (in compounds also) -sagēn
(Middle Low German seggen
, (western) sāgen
), Old High German sagēn
, (rare) seggen
(Middle High German sagen
, (central) segen
, German sagen
), Old Icelandic segja
, Old Swedish sighia
, (runic) sægia
), Danish sighæ
), probably < an ablaut variant (o
-grade) of the same Indo-European base as Early Irish seichid
asserts, declares, Old Welsh hepp
says (3rd singular present indicative; Welsh hebu
to say), Old Russian sočiti
to look for, to litigate, Polish sосzуć
to slander, to vilify, Serbian Church Slavonic sočiti
to indicate, Lithuanian sakyti
to say, and the prefixed forms ancient Greek ἔννεπε
(imperative, corresponding to Old Latin inseque
(aorist infinitive), to tell, say (corresponding to classical Latin inquam
Compare , , and
(see note at definition).
Compare ( < the same Germanic base) the noun formation
Originally a weak verb of Class III (compare , ). As with other weak Class III verbs, details of the early development are uncertain and disputed, and influence of weak Class I and II verbs on the paradigm is likely; for a fuller discussion of the Old English forms and their prehistory see A. Campbell Old Eng. Gram.
) §§762, 766, R. M. Hogg & R. D. Fulk Gram. Old Eng.
) II. §§6.122–6, D. Ringe & A. Taylor Devel. Old Eng.
) 362–8, and compare also H. M. Flasdieck in Anglia 59
Forms of the present stem.
In Old English the stem form secg-
reflects gemination of stem-final West Germanic g
before the inflectional suffix j
and the regular development of that geminated consonant to a voiced affricate (/dʒ/
); it also shows the expected i-mutation of the stem vowel to e
. This stem form originally occurred in the infinitive, 1st singular and plural present indicative, present subjunctive, present participle, and imperative plural: see Forms 1a, 1d, 1e(ii). The stem form without gemination and i-mutation, Old English sæg-
, shows regular palatalization of the stem-final consonant to /j/
, with the consequent development of a diphthong in Middle English. This stem form originally occurred in the 2nd and 3rd singular present indicative and imperative singular: see Forms 1b, 1c, 1e(i); compare also the stem of the past tense and past participle. The Old English by-form sag-
, where the stem vowel æ
is retracted to a
before a back vowel of the inflectional ending (in forms such as 2nd singular present indicative sagast
, by analogy with verbs of weak Class II), is apparently not continued in Middle English.
Subsequent development of the forms of the present stem shows the effect of increasing levelling among the stem forms from Old English onwards. In the course of Middle English the different diphthongal reflexes of Old English sæg-
( > sai-
) and seg-
( > sei-
) eventually merge again as sai-
, the antecedent of modern standard English say
By early modern English the stem form without gemination had generally been levelled across the entire present system, including the infinitive and imperative (see Forms 1a, 1d, 1e(ii)., and compare also the parallel development of ). However, in some instances, especially in Middle English, the converse development took place, with reflexes of the forms with gemination spreading to other parts of the present system (see Forms 1b, 1c, 1e(i)). This development seems to have occurred independently in more than one Middle English dialect area. In some texts forms of both types co-occur, and are even occasionally (in two 15th-cent. northern sources) used in direct juxtaposition, probably for emphasis (compare e.g. quot. ; compare also Middle Low German sagen und seggen
). The occurrence of the analogical past participle form seggid
in seggid and saide
at Forms 3) suggests that such forms may not always have been recognized as variants of the same word by this time.
Middle English forms with the stem vowels i
, and eu
appear to reflect (western and south-eastern) processes of vowel raising or rounding.
Past tense and past participle forms.
The inherited weak past tense and past participle (see Forms 2 and 3) are formed from the base without gemination or i-mutation. With Old English 3rd singular past indicative sægde
compare (formed from the Germanic base) Old Dutch sagete
, Old Saxon sagda
, Old High German sagēta
, Old Icelandic sagði
, Old Swedish sagþe
, and also (apparently re-formed within the individual languages) Old Frisian segede
, Middle Dutch segde
, Middle Low German seggede
Changes in vowel length.
In early modern English the stem vowel (the reflex of Middle English ai
) was shortened in the past tense and past participle (compare modern standard English /sɛd/
), as well as in the 3rd singular present indicative (compare modern standard English /sɛz/
; hence ). Compare the discussion in E. J. Dobson Eng. Pronunc. 1500–1700
(ed. 2, 1968
) II. §26.
In West Saxon the stem-final palatal in sægd-
was sometimes lost before the dental of the suffix, with compensatory lengthening (sǣd-
). This stem form is frequently found in late West Saxon, and is sometimes continued in Middle English (compare e.g.
at Forms 2(a)).
Infinitive and past participle forms in -n, -ne.
is one of very few verbs which show a distinct inflected infinitive form in later Middle English and early modern English (e.g. sain
, etc.: see Forms 1a), probably a secondary formation by analogy with similar forms of monosyllabic verbs, such as , , ,
Similarly, the past participle forms in -n
(see Forms 3) are perhaps by analogy with the past participle forms of such verbs.
Notes on specific senses.
Frequently used to translate Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French, French dire
(see ) and its etymon classical Latin dīcere
(see ), which have a similar semantic range.
With intransitive use in the past tense in narrative poetry (see sense ) compare similar uses of classical Latin dixit
(past participle of dīcere
) and ancient Greek ἦ ῥα
(Homer; < ἦ
he said (see ) + ῥα
, enclitic particle).
In use with infinitive complement (see sense ) probably originally after the common classical Latin ‘accusative and infinitive’ construction, in which a subordinate statement forms the object of the governing verb, with the subject of the statement in the accusative and the verb in the infinitive.
With the passive uses in senses
compare similar uses of classical Latin dīcitur
it is said, it is called, 3rd person singular passive of dīcere
With the impersonal use in sense
compare Old French ci dist
, ço dist
this means, lit. ‘this says’ (c
Prefixed forms in Old English.
In Old English the prefixed form gesecgan
to speak, utter, tell, to announce, declare, expound (compare ) is also attested; compare also (Northumbrian) æfsecga
to refute (compare ), asecgan
to speak, declare, to tell, recite, to explain, to consecrate, dedicate (compare ), beforansecgan
(see ), besecgan
, (Northumbrian) efnesecga
to agree (compare ), (Northumbrian) eftsecga
to report, to renounce, to relate (compare ), foresecgan
(see ), forþsecgan
to make known, declare, utter (compare ), (Northumbrian) insecga
to infer (compare ), onsecgan
to renounce, deny, to offer sacrifice (compare ), wiþsecgan
, and also fullsecgan
to relate fully, give a full account of (compare ), sōþsecgan
to declare truly (see ).
A. v.1Say is the most basic and common verb used to introduce direct speech in modern English (see sense ). In Old English, however, most commonly fulfilled that function, and say was used in a wider variety of senses and constructions, especially, with a clause as object, to introduce indirect speech and report information (see sense ); the Germanic cognates of say typically show both uses. Through the later Old English and early Middle English periods say gradually took over queath's characteristic function, and queath was effectively obsolete by the end of the Middle English period, except in the fossilized form quoth (see ). At the same time several functions of say in Old English were taken over, partly or fully, by : compare especially sense , in which sense tell is also attested in Old English, but also, e.g., senses and , in which senses tell is not attested before Middle English.
The semantic changes undergone by say, esp. in terms of its relationship to queath and tell, are accompanied by an important syntactic change. In Old English, say was commonly used with the person addressed specified as an indirect (dative) object, but as say became the principal device for introducing direct speech, this construction was replaced by use of a prepositional phrase with to (a construction typical of queath and apparently taken over from it). By the early 16th cent. the use with an indirect object was all but obsolete (see, e.g., sense ); such examples as are found subsequently are archaic and formulaic (see, e.g., the quots. at ). In modern English the divergence between using the construction with to and using an indirect object constitutes the major syntactic distinction between say and tell.
From Old English onwards say has also shared a number of functions with speak, although in modern English the principal functions of both words are entirely distinct, e.g. sense is now rare for say (cf. ), as is the use of speak to introduce direct speech (see ).
To utter, speak; to express in words, declare; to make known, tell.
1. a. transitive
. To utter aloud (a specified word or words, or an articulate sound). Also of a writer: to be the author of (the quoted word or words).
(b) Following or inserted parenthetically within the specified words.Frequently with the subject and verb inverted, although when the subject is a personal pronoun, this inversion is now largely restricted to nonstandard registers (cf. e.g., sense ).
‘Swa beo hit’, seiþ alle, ‘Amen’.
‘Iher me, dohter’, he seið.
‘Louerd,’ he sede, ‘we beþ men wide idriue aboute.’
A. i. l. 49
And he asked of hem of whom spac þe lettre..‘Ceesar, þei seiden, We seoþ wel vchone.’
?a1425 tr. Guy de Chauliac
(N.Y. Acad. Med.)
f. 21 (MED)
‘Euery aposteme, or it is hote or it is noȝt hote, in spekyng of hote proprely..’ seid Auicen.
Nay bi godis soule, that shal he nat Seide the Shipman.
a1529 J. Skelton Manerly Margery in
Tully, valy, strawe, let be I say!
The curagious Knichtis bad haue him to hing..‘God forbot’ he said, ‘my thank war sic thing To him that succourit my lyfe!’
1600 Shakespeare ii. ii. 68
Amen, to that faire prayer, say I.
1640 tr. G. S. du Verdier ii. xxiii. 87
I am he, said Lucendus, most ready to serve you if you have occasion to use me.
1719 R. Steele No. 2. 12
Comets, said he, are Two-fold, Supra-lunar, and Sub-lunar.
1806 T. S. Surr III. i. 35
‘Is he alive?’ said Belloni with interested emotion.
1840 June 357/1
‘It was,’ he said, ‘an awful meeting.’
1903 S. Crane & R. Barr ii. 24
‘Paddy, you baboon,’ said I, ‘be quiet and don't be making yourself a laughing-stock for the whole of them.’
1952 ‘R. Gordon’ vii. 80
‘Keyhole surgery!’ said Sir Lancelot with contempt.
1960 G. Durrell viii. 189
‘Cor!’ said the constable, in a voice of deep emotion.
2000 M. Phillips 141
‘It may be,’ he said, ‘that we have stumbled on something of great import.’
b. intransitive. In parenthetic clauses introduced by as. Later also in parenthetic phrase shall I say (cf. ).
OE Ælfric Let. to Wulfsige
in B. Fehr
He ne moste on wydewum wifigan ne on aworpenum wife; ac, ealswa we ær sædon, on sumum mædene.
Þiss gode mann..Wass alls i seȝȝde nu littlær. Ȝehatenn zacaryas.
v. l. 1623 (MED)
Thei..maden othre goddes newe, As thou hast herd me seid tofore.
l. 359 (MED)
Nothing multiplieth, as auctours says, But bi one of these two waies.
1580 W. Fulke 5
As Augustine saith, we must hold yt church which both is catholike, & is so called.
1600 Shakespeare iii. ii. 278
Why then, you left mee..In earnest, shall I say ?
1620 R. Newton 26
The want of due regard to these things, oftentimes makes the house of God, the house of Rimmon; or as Christ said, A Den of Theeues.
1698 J. Fryer 262
As we are wont to say, Well done.
1748 J. Upton
ii. iii. 147
Making war against the hair, as Shakespeare says, by destroying it.
1826 25 Nov. 263/1
There's no help for spilt milk, as we say in Ireland.
1844 R. W. Emerson 20
The timidity of our public opinion is our disease, or, shall I say, the publicness of opinion, the absence of private opinion.
1898 Oct. 716
It is, as Zola said somewhere, the over-realm which transcends the pettiness of sects and politics.
a1945 E. R. Eddison
Will you not..find some new word of opprobriousness for (shall I say?) your stepson?
1966 B. Brophy 313
Snobberies and titles are to her absurd affectations which she can't, as she says, ‘be doing with’.
2003 A. Collins i. 28
We learned something that day, as Kyle says on South Park.
(a) Used with a common interjection, as to say farewell, to say goodbye, to say hello, to say sorry, etc., to refer to an act or gesture of valediction, greeting, apology, etc., without the necessary implication that the specified word is spoken.For more detailed coverage of particular constructions, see , , , , .
in C. Brown
Moni of þisse riche þat wereden foh & grei..schulen atte dome suggen weilawei.
1372 in E. Wilson
He is wis þat hat inou and þanne seit [a1400 Harl. 2316 kan seyn] ‘Hö’.
i. l. 11157
At ilk matyng þei said ‘Chek!’
When men be meriest. alday deth seith chek mate.
1529 T. More sig. C.iv
For yf hys grace say nay: then he telleth hym byfore, that all the worlde woteth yes.
1579 G. Gilpin tr. P. van Marnix van Sant Aldegonde vi. iii. f. 303
A Monke..did steale one of his especiall and chiefest bookes in that art, & got him packing herewithal, without saying farewell.
1696 T. Southerne 76
I wonnot say farewell, For you must follow me.
1709 R. Steele No. 105. ⁋3
He would not say her nay in any Thing.
1783 Sept. 782/1
And turning thence with pensive steps and slow, I wav'd my hand, I could not say farewell.
1857 R. Glisan
I shall be able to say good bye to the messpots of Uncle Sam.
1880 R. Broughton II. ii. x. 91
Nothing remains but for the once enemies to say farewell.
1918 G. Lee Diary 7 Apr. in
I made my way downstairs in my travelling dress to say goodbye to the friends of both our families.
1936 D. Thomas 7 July
I should have written and said thanks weeks ago, but I mislaid your address.
1970 15 Nov. 2/2
A top bull rider who rodeoed up through the mid-sixties stopped by and said hello the other day.
26 Sept. 36
‘After the event we had..a barbecue to say thanks to everyone,’ ACW Kelly said.
(b) In representations of colloquial speech used in reporting conversations, characterized by a variety of nonstandard features, such as the substitution of the third person singular present tense for either the past tense or the first and second person singular present tense, the widespread inversion of verb and subject when the verb precedes the quoted words, and repetition of the verb, as says I, says you, says I to myself says I, etc. Cf. , Now chiefly Irish English.
1682 ‘Philanax Misopappas’ 3
If he preach up nothing but Hell and Heaven, and a good Life,..D - - - me, says he, this Fellow's Whiggefi'd.
1683 Dryden & N. Lee Epil. sig. A4
Jack Ketch, says I, 's an excellent Physician.
1700 W. Congreve iii. i. 34
Humh (says he) what you are a hatching some Plot (says he) you are so early abroad.
1707 D. Defoe
Mrs. Bargrave asked her whether she would drink some Tea. Says Mrs. Veal, ‘I do not care if I do.’
1709 Swift Mrs. Harris's Petition in
Says Cary, says he,..I never heard of such a Thing.
1720 T. Gordon & J. Trenchard No. 23
Says I to myself, This reverend ill-tongu'd Parson will certainly quarrel.
1784 R. Bage I. 79
I believe, says I, it has caught your sister's dejection.
1825 T. Hook 2nd Ser. II. 103
Because, says I to myself says I, it may save them-there unfortunate, innocent people.
‘I bet you thirteen to ten that Sophy Cutler hooks either you or Mulligatawney before the rains.’ ‘Done,’ says I.
1853 Dickens v. 37
That warn't like Chancery practice though, says you!
1887 W. E. Henley i. 1
‘O crikey, Bill!’ she ses to me, she ses.
1922 J. Joyce ii. xii. [Cyclops] 306
Hoho begob, says I to myself, says I. That explains the milk in the cocoanut and absence of hair on the animal's chest.
1960 F. O'Connor 22 Dec.
The woman, who had carrot-colored hair & eyeglasses to match, asked me by whom I was employed. ‘Self-employed,’ says I.
2010 J. O'Connor
Says I: ‘You'd want to keep a weather eye on any girleen in the house, sir.’
d. transitive. Of an animal: to make (its characteristic cry or sound).
Kek kek ȝit seith the doke.
in R. H. Robbins
He toke a goose fast by the nek And made her to sey, ‘wheccumquek’.
1640 J. D. i. sig. Bv
Not a Prentice that can cry Bawd, nor a Butchers Dog that can say bow wow, but is of my acquaintance.
1782 W. Cowper tr. V. Bourne Jack Daw in 338
He sees that this great roundabout The world,..Its customs and its businesses Are no concern at all of his, And says, what says he? Caw.
1851 H. F. Gould 166
The taunting Duck said, ‘Quack, quack, quack!’ As her muddy mouth to the pool went back.
1922 J. Joyce ii. iv. [Calypso] 54
Mrkrgnao! the cat said loudly.
1983 Apr. 73/3
Uncle Joe asked, ‘Who was the greatest baseball player of all time?’ And the dog said, ‘Woof, woof.’
2008 I. Haiblum xxxiv. 135
Weiss scratched the cat behind the left ear. The cat said, ‘Meow.’
With clause as object. To express in words (a specified fact, opinion, feeling, or intention); to declare, state; (often more strongly) to state as one's opinion or judgement; to state with assurance, assert. Used of both speakers and writers. Also figurative
(b) Without explicit identification of the person or persons addressed: to declare, state, assert.
OE Ælfric Homily
(Corpus Cambr. 188)
in J. C. Pope
Ge secgaþ þæt ic adræfde deofla of mannum þurh ðæs deofles mihte þe menn hataþ Beelzebub.
Men..sæden ðat micel þing sculde cumen herefter.
MS Lamb. in R. Morris
1st Ser. 15 (MED)
Monimon seið þet þa weren strotige [perh. read stronge] laȝe.
Wiste noman..Quat kinde he was kumen fro, Oc summe seiden ðat it was sem.
Sche..seide sadly..sche wold seche amendis.
1433 N. Phillip Serm. in A. G. Little
Myn childe cryse and sayse his fadir has for sakyn hym.
?a1513 W. Dunbar
He said he was ane licherus bull That croynd baith day and nycht.
1577 T. Kendall tr. Politianus et al. f. 18
Thou saist thou art as much my frend as any man can be.
ii. i. 11
My powers are Cressent, and my Auguring hope Sayes it will come to'th'full.
1617 F. Moryson i. 178
I formerly said that I bought a horse at Paduoa.
1657 W. Coles cviii
Some say, that it [sc. Sundew] is a searing or caustick Herb, and very much biting.
1673 W. Wycherley iii. i
What I have said I have said.
1717 Lady M. W. Montagu 18 Apr.
The Greek Lady with me earnestly solicited me to visit the Kahya's Lady, saying he was the 2nd Officer in the Empire.
1775 J. Adams 25 Oct.
Duane says that Jefferson is the greatest Rubber off of Dust that he has met with.
1798 Wordsworth We are Seven in Wordsworth & S. T. Coleridge 110
She was eight years old, she said.
1829 K. H. Digby xxi. 272
Gibbon says that the French monarchy was created by the bishops of France.
1842 Tennyson Lady of Shalott
She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she stay.
1859 ‘G. Eliot’ III. vi. xlix. 208
It's your kindness makes you say I'm useful to you.
1913 M. Johnston xxxiii. 372
The Colonel had suddenly..taken to his bed. Old Miss believed that he would get up again,—there was, she said, no reason why he shouldn't.
1940 S. Hook i. ii. 20
To say that Russia is a democracy in the aforegoing sense would be utterly false.
1980 R. Lee vi. 61
I am not saying that China today is a paradise for women's libbers.
2012 18 July 21/4
Looking towards the sky, he said he was just hoping for some good weather soon.
b. With an indirect question as object: to declare, make known (the desired information); to state (who, what, how, whether, etc.). In early use frequently with the person addressed as indirect object (originally in the dative). Cf. sense .Sometimes also intransitive with the question implied by the preceding context.
Saga hwæt ic hatte.
Ic geseah swefn & ic ne mæg nanne man findan, þe me secge hwæt hit behealde.
Sæȝ us hwæt ðæt word bihealde oððe hwa ðe þerto wissode.
a1225 MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris
2nd Ser. 21 (MED)
We habbeð bigunnen to sege ou on englis hwat bitocneð þe crede.
Ah ȝef ȝe wullen us seuggen ȝet ȝe mawen libben. whonene ȝe beð icumene.
l. 593 (MED)
Seiȝth me al ȝour seknesse & what so sore ȝow greuis.
ii. l. 1871
Bot of Envie, If ther be more in his baillie Towardes love, sai me what.
And siþen he did him for to sai Quat was þe chesiun of his wai.
Ȝif ȝou lyke to here how the mele cometh out of the trees, I schall seye ȝou.
c1449 R. Pecock
Seie to me also where in Holi Scripture is ȝouen the hundrid parti of the teching which is ȝouen upon vsure.
a1475 Visio Philiberti
in J. O. Halliwell
How ferful trowly there is no tong can saye.
a1529 J. Skelton Poems against Garnesche in
But sey me yet, Syr Satropas, what auctoryte ye haue..to calle me a knaue?
a1586 Sir P. Sidney
Say, whether thou wilt crowne With limitlesse renowne.
1667 Milton vii. 40
Say Goddess, what ensu'd.
a1771 T. Gray Amatory Lines in Pope
Ah say, fellow swains, how these symptoms befell me.
1819 Scott II. xiii. 241
Rouse up thy soul to say what thou wilt do for thy liberty.
1884 77 369/2
It was not then necessary for the court to say authoritatively whether it was right or not.
1930 D. L. Sayers ii. 35
Consider the circumstances of the case as a whole, and say what conclusion you have come to.
1954 I. Murdoch
I then rang up two theatre agencies who didn't know Anna's whereabouts, and the B.B.C., who did but wouldn't say.
2010 19 Aug. 35/3
She declined to say whether she believed in natural or moral rights.
†c. To make known, declare (a belief, opinion, judgement, etc.). Frequently with the person addressed as indirect object. Obsolete.
OE Wærferð tr. Gregory
ii. xxii. 149
On hwilc gerad þæt mihte beon, þæt he swa feor eode & slæpendum þam broðrum andsware sægde.
Lef maȝȝstre seȝȝ uss nu þin raþ & seȝȝ uss nu þin lare.
c1390 MS Vernon Homilies in
57 280 (MED)
He wolde him say his onswere on a noþer day.
O þis ioseph sai me þi dome, And giue me þar-of god consail.
[We] bade hym seye his voirdit as hym leste.
iv. l. 5455 (MED)
Trouþes alle be nat for to seyn.
Parl. Sept. 1429 §27. m. 11
No persone of the seide counseill, shal conceyve..wrath, ayeins any other of the seide counseill, for saiyng his advys or entent.
1523 Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart I. ccccxxx. f. cccvv/1
The bysshop..commaunded hym to say his aduyse.
a1568 R. Ascham
i. f. 28
Where they may freely say their mindes.
†d. With an abstract noun as object, as honour, shame, villainy, etc. To make (comments which are characterized by the specified quality or condition); to speak honourably, insultingly, wickedly, etc. Frequently with a person as indirect object (or specified with of, to). Obsolete (archaic in later use).
OE Cynewulf 1116
Leode gefægon.., sægdon wuldor gode ealle anmode.
OE Ælfric Homily
in J. C. Pope
Ðeah ðe hwa secge be me tal oððe hosp, hit byð him forgyfen.
Preise him leoste [read laste] him do him scheome. sei him scheome al him is iliche leof.
Ilome þu dest me grame & seist me boþe tone & schame.
?a1300 Dame Sirith l. 198 in G. H. McKnight
Þou seruest affter godes grome Wen þou seist on me silk blame.
Hy..zyggeþ ofte onþank þan.
Do wel to hym þt dooth to thee harm & blesse hym þt seith to thee harm.
A wyf ne shal nat seyn of hir housbonde But al honour.
H. Lovelich xiii. l. 302 (MED)
Mochel worschepe men Of him sayes.
c1475 tr. C. de Pisan
It longeth not to a subiect to seye shame of his lorde.
a1500 in R. L. Greene
p. xcix (MED)
I prey the..sey me no veleny.
l. 889 (MED)
Y ne haue mysdo ne seyd no felonye.
1540 R. Taverner f. vi
The whyche when any sayde harme by hym, he sayde no harme agayne.
?1616 W. Goddard xiii. sig. H4
I'le saie noe harme, I'le tell thee onely this, What pleaseth woemen beste, and what it is.
1649 No. 3 6
If that I say no Reason, those that hear me must be Judges, I cannot be Judg of that that I have.
1828 Scott Fair Maid of Perth xii, in 2nd Ser. I. 315
I will say them no scandal.
e. To speak (the truth); to tell (a lie). Frequently (now usually) in the infinitive in parenthetic phrases: see .
Witgode he þæt ungewealdene muðe be Cristes þrowunge. Sægde soð, swa he nyste.
We wullet soð sucgen [c1300 Otho segge].
Ful ofte in game a sooth I haue herd seye.
Þus crist spekiþ to þe iewis & axeþ hem whi þei bileuen not to hym ȝif he seiþe trewþe.
Sumtyme it is lefful to hide a trewth, but it was neuer lefful to sey a fals.
1548 W. Patten Pref. sig. a.v
The whiche I had, or rather (to saie truth and shame the deuel, for out it wool) I stale.
1611 John viii. 46
If I say the trueth [1961 New Eng. If what I say is true; 1966 Good News If I tell the truth], why doe ye not beleeue me?
a1664 M. Frank
They say a lie when they separate the works of the Gospel from that faith that justifies.
1823 III. xii. 292
‘A lie, ay!’ continued the knight of Haddon, ‘do not hold it strange. I say a lie.’
1908 J. Gairdner I. i. ii. 179
He protested that he said the truth and that he had been betrayed.
2000 E. Boehmer 86
Even then he never dropped his eyes and he never said a lie.
f. To express (a message, a sentiment, a point of view) through, or as through, a work of literature, art, music, etc.; (in extended use, of a literary, artistic, etc., work) to give expression to, communicate, convey.Chiefly with an object of general or indefinite meaning: cf. sense . In extended use overlapping with branch
1876 W. Bayliss iv. i. 141
If Nature has nothing to say to us Art must be eternally dumb.
1881 H. James I. xviii. 222
I am afraid there are moments in life when even Beethoven has nothing to say to us.
1932 J. Buchan xii. 333
Venice, Tirol, Munich, Heidelberg said nothing to him.
1951 M. McLuhan 80/2
By juxtaposition and contrast he is able to ‘say’ a great deal.
1958 4 May 15/5
A play which says more about the simple, non-tragic aspects of queerness than anything our theatre has so far permitted.
1977 125 602/1
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.
1986 ‘Morrissey’ Panic in
Burn down the disco, Hang the blessed DJ, Because the music that they constantly play, It says nothing to me about my life.
2001 27 June ii. 11/1
His vivid evocation of the Palestinian dilemma says more about the latest eruption of violence than any political commentary.
To make (an utterance or comment); to utter (words).
With a pro-form in place of the reported speech or declaration. Usually with the specific utterance or comment specified or implied contextually.
(b) intransitive. With so or thus. Cf. , , . See , .
OE Wærferð tr. Gregory
For hwi, broðru, for hwi secge ge swa [OE Corpus Cambr. cweðað ge þas word; L. ista dicitis]?
OE Ælfric Homily
in J. C. Pope
Se Hælend him andwyrde eft, þus him secgende: Þu eart æðele lareow.
He þa seȝȝde þuss till hemm. Naȝȝ. namm I nohht profete.
Wy seistou so.
Þanne he openede his mouþ..and ham þus zeayde.
Chevalere Assigne l. 162 in W. H. French & C. B. Hale
Thus he seyth to his wyfe in sawe as I telle.
H 3 b
Saist thou me so?
1644 Milton 26
If he beleeve things only because his Pastor sayes so.
1662 E. Stillingfleet ii. vi. §16. 202
Say you so?
1749 T. Smollett tr. A. R. Le Sage III. vii. i. 6
So saying, he drew his long rapier.
1791 W. Cowper tr. Homer Odyssey in II. xvii. 237
So saying, his tatter'd wallet o'er his back He cast.
1814 R. Southey xxv. 378
Thus saying, they withdrew a little way.
1895 J. T. Sunderland Apr. 10
Mr. Ingersoll says No. And he is right in so saying.
1919 V. Meynelll iv. 36
‘It's very nice of you to say so,’ he replied nervously.
1922 C. H. Woolbert & A. T. Weaver App. C. 392
The debater who will stand on the platform and say that the opponents have said thus and so when they have said nothing of the kind, only makes himself look silly.
1972 J. B. Keane Lett. Irish Parish Priest in
‘I'll bet a hundred,’ he said. So saying he produced his cheque book, took one out, signed it and threw the blank cheque on top of the pot.
2003 26 July i. 19/7
It says so on a very convincing site on the internet, so it must be true.
(c) transitive. With the same as object. See .
l. 1047 (MED)
William seide þe same.
B. xi. l. 289 (MED)
Þe same I segge for sothe by alle suche prestes.
1448 in S. A. Moore
i. 56 (MED)
Hit appereth hit is noght oure defaute, trustynge to God that oure party advers woll seye the same.
1532 T. More ii. p. cxlvi
I wyll saye the same.
1597 R. Tofte iii. viii. sig. D5v
The fond behauiour of both which to see, Who so but nicely markes, will say the same.
1652 No. 62. 493
Our Doctors for the most part say the same.
1666 G. Torriano Proverbial Phrases 292/2
The Latin says the same, Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.
1740 J. Du Pré tr. P. Mussard 101
The Pagans could say the same of their Saturnals, Bacchanals and Lupercals.
1793 S. Fitzgerald Let. in G. Campbell
I am sure many others have said the same with impunity; but unfortunately he is, at this critical moment, a marked man.
1843 F. Marryat III. ii. 36
Any one on hearing him narrate would say the same.
1901 26 Oct. 8/2
Mr. Wilson, manager of the Toronto Poultry farm, says he can not get enough [chickens] of superior quality, and many others say the same.
1949 11 Oct. 4/7
I wish I could say the same of other sections of the Press.
2002 S. Waters xiii. 416
They all say the same: ‘Sue Trinder? Who'd have thought her so fly?’
b. transitive. With a pronoun, noun, or noun phrase of indefinite or general meaning as object (as little, much, nothing, something, thing, etc.), referring to the extent or nature of a comment or discourse rather than to its specific content, or to the fact of speaking up rather than remaining silent. Cf. sense , .
OE Ælfric Homily: De Populo Israhel
in J. C. Pope
Nu wylle we git secgan sum ðing be ðam folce.
Þet nis naut to seggen.
If thou..woldist seyn thre thingis or mo Thou shalt full scarsly seyn the two.
(Winch. Coll. 13)
Ever sir Trystram spake fayre and seyde lytyll.
1556 J. Heywood xcii
Saith as those honest saie: or saith nothing.
1576 A. Fleming tr. Cicero in 18
Why you ought not to haue beleeued such rumors, I wil say something.
1602 R. Marbecke Ded. sig. A2
Mvch here is said, Tabacco to defend, And much was said, Tabacco to disgrace.
1638 Milton Lycidas in Obsequies 23 in
Besides what the grimme wolf with privy paw Daily devoures apace, and little said.
1712 R. Steele No. 354. ⁋1
You have described most sorts of Women..but I think you have never yet said anything of a Devotée.
1791 J. Boswell I. 180
Warburton..has a rage for saying something, when there's nothing to be said.
1795 65 542/2
A good deal has been said already in your Magazine in praise of Dr. Berkeley.
I. xi. 181
He..said things that garr'd folk's flesh grue.
1895 25 Jan. 5/3
The Judge..has been saying some severe things on the subject of distraining bailiffs.
1896 15 Jan. 7/2
He said much, but told little, at to-day's meeting.
1959 A. Sillitoe 67
He stood speechless. He wanted to say so many things but the words would not come to his lips.
1965 14 May 760/3
‘Did you say something, man?’ the face asked.
2001 J. Wolcott xli. 266
Did Claudia say anything else about what she's doing acting-wise?
c. transitive. With word, phrase, †saw, etc., as object. Cf. .In use with word as object, now typically in negative contexts with reference to an action performed silently or a subject that is not talked about.
Be þam ic wille secgan sume feawa word.
Ælfric Homily in A. O. Belfour
Þe ðe tallice word sæð [OE Vitell. C.v cwyð] onȝean ðone Haliȝ Gast..næf[ð] he næfre þærof forȝyfenesse.
Ne wraðþe þu þe, mi wunne, for sahe þet ich segge.
Heore ærnde heo him cudde; ælc his saȝe sæide.
He stod vp a-non-riht and þeos word saide. Hercne me min louerd.
l. 2365 (MED)
Whan þat sawe was seid..þe prouost bad bold burnes þe beres go take.
Ouyr the gatis..There were vers I-wrete..Of which I schal now seyn the pleyn sentence Thorw me men gon in to that blysful place [etc.].
Therfore take hede..Þat none jangill nor jolle at my ȝate..Tille I haue seggid and saide all my sawe.
in W. O. Ross
Þese wordes þat I haue seide in Latyne, þei are wrytten in þe pistell of Seynt Poule.
?1505 tr. P. Gringore
Some worde may he say in gode entent The whiche soundeth to great outrage And causeth hym after to repent.
1598 B. Yong tr. A. Pérez 2nd Pt. Diana in tr. J. de Montemayor 282
Harke but one worde that I shall say vnto thee.
1681 Dryden 22
Few words he said; but..those..More slow than Hybla drops, and far more sweet.
a1714 J. Sharp
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.
1768 L. Sterne II. 98
[She], without saying a word, took out her little hussive, threaded a small needle, and sewed it up.
1803 Duke of Wellington
Not a word is said of the supposed irruption of Holkar.
1869 ‘M. Harland’ vii. 143
Mr. Hart said a phrase of polite acquiescence.
1911 Z. Grey vi. 65
For once Ken's spirit was so crushed and humbled that he could not say a word to his rival.
1981 N. C. O'Brien ii. 45
I was saying a phrase or two, just to show that coming to the States hasn't made me lose my language.
2014 3 Feb. 69/1
The gentleman next to me looks at me, I look at him, and without saying a word, we start partner-dancing!
d. intransitive. To make a statement or utterance (with the content understood from context or by implication).Frequently in , .
1909 4 Mar. 276/2
Hubert looked uneasy, though he forced the answer, ‘Somebody has to pick it up; it never does so itself’. ‘You don't say!’ exclaimed Wallace.
1942 D. Thomas May
Thank you for saying about Llewelyn.
1990 J. P. Donleavy 172
Thank you dear boy. Kind of you to say.
2014 J. Bishop 243
‘She wrote about you several times. She admired you.’ I didn't believe it but it was good of her to say.
b. With an adverb, describing the manner or intention of what is said, as fair, miss, true, well, etc.: to speak pleasantly, wrongly, truthfully, etc. Now rare (somewhat archaic).
eOE King Ælfred tr. Gregory
Ðonne mon ðonne ongiete ðæt..he wene ðæt he ryht be oðrum gedemed hæbbe, ðonne secge him mon suiðe gedæftelice for his agnum scyldum.
in S. Irvine
He ne sæde na riht.
Þer me him faire bi-hath, seȝeþ him faire bi-fore, & fokel attende.
a1387 J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden
(St. John's Cambr.)
‘Þou seist wel’, quod þat oþer.
Friar Daw's Reply
l. 112 in P. L. Heyworth
Iak, þou seist ful serpentli.
a1450 in J. Kail
I wole be mendid ȝif y say mys.
Beter myghte no man seyne.
(Winch. Coll. 13)
Syn hit lykyth you to sey thus fayre unto me, wote ye well hit gladdyth myne herte gretly.
(St. John's Cambr.)
‘Sa ȝhe suthly?’ ‘Ȝha, certis, dame’.
Thou seiste trewe.
1567 T. Harman
And was not this a good acte, nowe howe saye you.
ii. i. 204
Thou shalt haue egresse and regresse, (said I well?) and thy name shall be Broome.
1697 Dryden tr. Virgil Georgics iv, in tr. Virgil 144
For seven continu'd Months, if Fame say true, The wretched Swain his Sorrows did renew.
1785 1 47
I find Sir Edward Hambden is with you, and, if fame say true, a charming fellow he is.
1835 9 119
‘Are these people able to educate the young and make them better?’ ‘Most certainly.’ ‘All of them? or only some?’ ‘All.’ ‘You say well, by Juno.’
1877 P. J. Bailey
Let none who say false Ever strike the gold string.
1924 W. Gillette ii. 79
You say true! I am aware why she's here.
a1963 S. Plath
We'll take Whatever trial's to come, so say true.
c. With against, again, in contrair: to express an opinion in opposition to a person, proposition, etc. Later also with for, with: to express an opinion in favour of; to agree with. Now Scottish.
Her egain mai naman sai.
And þare he made his mone playne Þat no man suld say þare ogayne.
1490 Caxton tr.
As he wolde have sayd agenst the duke Naymes, there cam a yonge gentilman [etc.].
1523 Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart I. xxx. 44
None durst say agaynst his opynion.
1558 Inverness Sheriff Court f. 38, in (at cited word)
Na parte comperit to obiect nor say in contrar the personis of inqueist.
1609 J. Skene tr. i. f. 12v
Alswa gif some of them sayes for ane partie, and some for ane other.
c1626 H. Bisset
The judge sall gar raise ane unlaw..of ilk soyttoure that sayd with the dome that is falsed.
1709 D. Manley
My Lady herself can't say against it.
1889 H. Johnston 43
I wouldna say again' a body o' men takin' pikes and guns..just to fricht the government.
1899 28 Jan. 3/2
‘They knew your business.’ ‘I cannot say for that.’
1926 July 227
A wull say wi' 'e i' that.
1957 6 Apr.
Ah c'u'd dae nae ither than say wi' 'em.
d. to say well (also evil, ill, etc.) of (also †by) : to speak well or ill of; to say something to a person's credit or discredit. Now rare.
1445 tr. Claudian's De Consulatu Stilichonis in
28 269 (MED)
Thou seith of hem evir wele.
(Winch. Coll. 13)
Thus was kynge Arthur depraved, and euyll seyde off.
l. 147 (MED)
Þou seist þerof right well.
1547 Of Contention i. sig. T j b
Saie well by them, that saie euill by you.
1551 R. Robinson in tr. T. More Epist. sig. ✠vv
Them, which can say well by nothing.
1631 E. Reeve lxxxvi. 305
To blesse and say well of them that curse him.
1659 T. Palmer 156
Some Historians say well of him, some say ill, but it appears hee continued seventeen years.
1713 Swift 16 May
Your new Bp acts very ungratefully, I cannot say so bad of it as he deserved.
1851 H. Crosby 131
His looks are not at all prepossessing, and report says badly of his character.
1895 A. F. Johnston vi. 95
Swear you will renounce this man,—this son of perdition,—and never have aught to say well of Him again!
1902 J. MacKinnon i. 11
To be a man and even a king of his word, to speak the truth and never say ill of another.
(transcript of radio programme)
A conservative who..adheres to the other Republican principles and Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, ‘Thou shalt not say ill of another Republican.’
†b. To compose (a piece of writing). Obsolete.
Lydgate tr. G. Deguileville
l. 150 (MED)
My wrytyng..ys al yseyd vnder correcion.
xii. l. 1214
Master Barbour, quhilk was a worthi clerk, He said the Bruce amang his othir werk.
†b. intransitive. To recite a religious service, office, etc.; esp. to say mass. Obsolete.Usually in relation to Roman Catholic worship.
When þo preste saies he, or if he singe, to him þou gyue gode herknynge.
1558 Q. Kennedy Compendius Tractiue in D. Laing
He can nolder sing nor say.
1607 E. Topsell 106
Within a short space none of them were able either to say, reade, pray, or sing, in all the monastery.
c1643 L. Prichard in
He intermitted his daily saying of Masse... The only person he had, or could git, at those times, when he said, was one Mr Thomas Gunter.
1708 N. Blundell
I served Mr Aldred ye first time he sayed in his new Chappell.
1787 W. Mawhood 20 May
Sun. 20 May. all at Hampsted. Mr. M'ackarty said.
1790 E. Burke 236
They are as usefully employed as those who neither sing nor say .
c. transitive. gen. To recite or repeat (a text or set of words of prescribed form), esp. from memory.
I see in song, in sedgeyng tale of Erceldoun & of Kendale: Non þam says as þai þam wroght, & in þer sayng it semes noght.
N. Homily Legendary
in C. Horstmann
2nd Ser. 67
Þan to þe body he made him boun And sayd þore his coniurisoun.
l. 124 (MED)
To chambyr he come, hys wycchecraft to sayn..he put in hys honde; the charme was sayde.
From passyon sonday tyl Esterne. ye saye the story of the fryday.
1602 J. Marston Induct. sig. A3
Faith, we can say our parts.
1640 in H. Paton
They who learns Latein most have a pense of that quhilk they have learned before to saye everie morning.
1727 W. Somervile 222
The silent, serious, solid Boy,..Constru'd, and pars'd, and said his Part.
Then his mama said to him, Come Billy, can you say a speech for these ladies!—Billy..made his best bow, and began.
1858 H. W. Longfellow Children in i. ix
Ye are better than all the ballads That ever were sung or said.
1888 E. Marshall
Now she is making him say his Latin grammar; no, I think it is his poetry.
1974 J. L. Shore vi. 65
While he worked, he said his times tables to himself.
2011 K. G. Lundy & L. Swartz 82
Students work with a partner to play Pat-a-Cake as they say the poem together.
. Also intransitive
(cf. senses , ). Usually in the present tense.
b. Of a book, text, or oral source (e.g. a proverb): to contain (a particular statement, comment, or form of words); to convey (certain information).
OE Ælfric Interrogationes Sigewulfi in Genesin
(Corpus Cambr. 162)
Seo oþer boc Exodus segð þæt hi ferdon of Egyptalanda on þære fiftan mægðe.
in S. Irvine
Þa halȝa Cristes boc, þe sæð hu þe manfulle..hine sceortlice ðus ibed.
Þiss goddspell seȝȝþ þatt sannt iohan Wass [etc.].
Sobrete is a traw wel precious..ase sayþ þe writinge.
a1450 in J. Evans & M. S. Serjeantson
The bible seith þat onicle was in þe fourth corner of the moce.
1561 in J. H. Burton
1st Ser. I. 181
Thair is na law that sayis that Frenchmennis gudis unmarkit shall pertene be escheit to the Lard of Bargany.
1563 Bp. J. Pilkington sig. C.iiiv
For as the glose there sais, that Saint Iames made their Canon, so it sais that Eusebius..shoulde make the rest.
1648 No. 14. sig. O4v
Letters from his Excellencies quarters near Colchester say thus: Sir, We have now almost finished our work on the Hill.
1692 R. L'Estrange lxxiii. 73
Shew me the Company (says the Adage) and I'll tell ye the Man.
1730 Swift On Stephen Duck in 115
The Proverb says; No Fence against a Flail.
One under 14 Years old, such are, as our Law says, not arrived at Discretion.
1830 38 Suppl. 177/1
So the constitution says in so many words.
1854 H. B. Stowe II. xxiii. 60
If you will please to recollect that the guide book says, ‘this palace contains all the gradations of architecture from early English to late perpendicular.’
1900 31 Jan. 1368/2
A paper in Mississippi said it was sorry to see the campaign starting off with such acrimony.
1943 June 6/3
After all, as the Good Book says, ‘the laborer is worthy of his hire.’
1981 J. Blume viii. 40
I once read an article that said tickling is a form of torture.
2002 23 Oct. a12/5
Maritime law says all sovereign nations, even those without coastlines, can flag ships.
c. Of a sign, notice, etc.: to bear (a specified instruction or message).
1918 18 Dec. 107/1
If the sign says, ‘Ties that Give Class to Business Dress’, you immediately think of the advantage of appearing as a well dressed, prosperous looking business man.
1944 M. Laski xi. 103
On the door..Clarissa found a notice saying, ‘Welfare Officer. Knock and enter.’
1989 Sept. 169/4
Look out for signs saying Zimmer Frei.
2003 D. Awerbuck
The water is..not fit for human consumption, as the sign says.
To express the common or widespread belief that; to claim, assert, or maintain that (something) is the case; to report, allege.
(b) In active use with an indefinite subject, as men, people, they (), etc., and a clause as object. To claim, assert, maintain, report, or allege. Cf. .
OE tr. Pseudo-Apuleius
Þæs þe man sægð [c1150 Harl. 6258B seȝð], þa swin þe hyre wyrttruman etað þæt hy beon butan milten gemette.
Hi sæden openlice ðat Crist slep & his halechen.
Prol. l. 56 (MED)
Men sein it [sc. the world] is now lassed, In worse plit than it was tho.
1440 J. Capgrave
This man was vsed to grete fasting, þei sayn.
a1529 J. Skelton
It is to drede men sayes Lest they be seduces As they be sayd sayne.
a1585 P. Hume Flyting with Montgomerie
iv. 51 in
Thow wes begottin, sum sayis to me, Betuix þe devill and ane duin kow.
1644 R. Symonds
A castle, belonging say they to a duke.
1710 Swift 9 Sept.
The duke of Ormond, they say, will be lieutenant of Ireland.
1785 W. Cowper i. 60
But elbows still were wanting; these, some say, An alderman of Cripplegate contriv'd.
1846 J. B. Morris Let. in M. Pattison 222
People say that converts are ‘cocky’.
1903 W. D. Howells iii. 20
They say that New-Yorkers never meet each other on the street.
a1974 G. Heyer
i. v. 88
People say he would have made a better merchant than a Churchman.
12 June 28
They say you should never meet your heroes—they'll only leave you disappointed.
(c) spec. Used as a formula to introduce a proverb or proverbial expression. Also intransitive in parenthetic phrase with as.
Man seið to biworde: hæge sitteð þa aceres dæleth.
l. 647 (MED)
Soth it is, þat men seyt and suereth: ‘Þer god wile helpen, nouth no dereth.’
Prol. l. 335
Bot it is seid and evere schal, Betwen tuo Stoles lyth the fal.
l. 4507 (MED)
For lang was said, and yeit sua bes, ‘Hert sun for-gettes þat ne ei seis’.
?1532 T. Paynell tr. Erasmus iii. sig. Dv
If that fortune (as men say) tourne her whele, by and by they forsake and leaue the and go to some other.
1584 T. Cogan cxcii. 150
And as it is saide a good Cooke can make you good meate of a whetstone.
1658 E. Ashmole iii. i. 167
Soon Ripe, soon Rotten, as they say, an ill Weed grows apace, and so forth.
'Twill be mere Woman's Work, never done, as they say.
c1771 S. Foote i. 22
Folks may go farther and fare worse, as they say.
1854 S. Smith viii. 166
As it is said, ‘there are more ways than one to skin a cat.’
1929 G. K. Chesterton iii. 64
They say travel broadens the mind; but you must have the mind.
31 Dec. 7
There may be confrontation, but as they say, you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs.
With complement, usually (and now only) an infinitive.
(a) In passive. To be considered, accounted, or reputed to be of the specified character or kind; (of a person) to be claimed, reputed, or alleged to have done something.In quot. with that-clause, in a perhaps unidiomatic rendering of the infinitive of the Latin source.
eOE tr. Bede
iv. xxvii. 360
Se wæs sægd, þæt he his broðor wære [L. qui frater eius..esse dicebatur].
III. 102 (MED)
On þe þrydde manere is holy Churche yseyd to be disposed.
c1425 tr. J. Arderne
Ane emplastre of þe white of ane rawe ey and oile..is seid wonderfully for to be mitigatiue.
c1460 in A. Clark
For-asmuch as þey saide the church of Saunforde to be þe modur church, And oþer seyde hit to be a chapell to þe church of Barton perteynyng [etc.].
Olde men louyn swylk a kynge, and he ys sayd vertuous, large, and attempre.
1568 F. Knollys Let. 28 June in
She [sc. Mary Seaton] did set sotche a curled Heare upon the Queen [sc. Mary Stuart], that was said to be a Perewyke, that shoed very delycately.
1615 G. Sandys 152
This is said to haue hapned..about the time that the Judges began to governe in Israel.
iv. v. 232
As warres in some sort may be saide to be a Rauisher, so..peace is a great maker of Cuckolds.
Imp, a familiar Spirit, said to be attending upon Witches.
1770 G. von Engeström & E. M. da Costa tr. A. F. Cronstedt 124
Red manganese is said to be found in Piedmont.
1803 H. Davy in
Catechu is said to be obtained from the wood of a species of the Mimosa.
1846 J. Lindley 727
The fruit of Rhizophora Mangle is said to be sweet and edible.
1928 21 Dec. 1/6
The man,..of no fixed address, is said to have admitted a number of robberies.
1961 100 510/3
Russia's long-range space programme is said to include sending two spaceships to the Moon by 1967.
12 June 19/3
The foppish ghost of the legendary poet..is said to haunt the halls of Newstead Abbey in Nottingham.
2007 19 Feb. (Extra section) 4/1
Bee venom..is said to be effective in treating rheumatic diseases.
†(b) In active use. To consider, account, assert, or repute (a person or thing) to be of the specified character or kind; to claim, assert, or allege that (a person) has done something. Obsolete.Also (in quot. ) intransitive with reflexive meaning: to claim that one is the specified thing; to profess to be.
Oþer him þas eorþan ealle sægde læne under lyfte.
Ealle æfæste men onscunodan Simon þone dry, & hie hine scyldigne sægdon.
a1382 Prefatory Epist. St. Jerome in
ix. l. 6
Bacbyters..syggen me to forge [a1450 L.V. that seyn, that I forge, L. me afferunt..cudere] new þingez for old, into þe stranglyng of þe seuenty interpretours.
Isa. v. 20
Wo þat seyn [L. dicitis] euel good & good euel.
Prefatory Epist. St. Jerome in
(New Coll. Oxf.)
Perauenture we seien Petre to be lewide, and Joon to be lewide.
Wo to ȝou that seis gud thynges to ben euyl thynges!
1563 J. Shute sig. Fi
Whiche oure Author hath brought to a vniformity, saying the piller to be in height .9. Diameters.
1583 W. Fulke vii. 224
Iacob, Ioab, and Shemei which none but madde men will say to haue descended into a receptacle of soules.
1585 T. Washington tr. N. de Nicolay 111
Diuers of them doe say to be descended [Fr. se disent estre descendus] of the line of Mahomet.
1639 G. Digby in G. Digby & K. Digby
Papias, whom St. Jerome..sayes to have been the first Authour of it [Millenarianism].
1707 E. Ward 42
It were great Malice, to say him to be a Man of no Principles.
b. transitive. To give an account of, describe; to make a report of; to tell of, speak about. Cf. sense . Obsolete.Often contextually interpretable with more specific meanings, e.g. ‘reveal’ (see quot. ), ‘confess’ (see quot. ), ‘prophesy’ (see quot. ).
Hit bið langsum to secganne ealle þa wundra þe he worhte on þam lande.
Hi herdon sæcgen þet se cyng heafde gifen þet abbot rice an Frencisce abbot, Turolde wæs gehaten.
Nu we willen sægen sumdel wat belamp on Stephnes kinges time.
Flesches lust is fot wunde as wes feor iseid þruppe.
1258 Proclam. Henry III in
Alse hit is biforen iseid.
Seint poule was rauisht in to þe þrid heuene & seiȝ þe priuetes of god þat it falleþ to noman to seien [v.r. tell].
l. 70 (MED)
I am not worþi to seyn moni of his werkes.
B. xiii. l. 305 (MED)
Baldest of beggeres..in tauernes tales to telle, And segge þinge þat he neuere seigh.
1450 W. Lomnor in
I..am right sory of that I shalle sey.
Þe synful man or womman scholde schryue hym holliche..for þei schulle seye alle here synnes.
Many oþir prophetis seiden and shewden the comyng of oure Lord.
c. transitive. To mention, make reference to; (sometimes) spec. to enumerate, list. Cf. . Obsolete.
OE tr. Pseudo-Apuleius
Hy habbað of [OE Vitell. on] eallon ðingon gelice mihte ongean þa ðincg ðe we her beforan sædon [c1150 Harl. 6258B sæden].
Lichte gultes beteð þus ananrich [read richt] bi ow seoluen. & þach seggeð ham inschrift.
1 Kings ix. 17
Lo þe man þat I seide to þee, þis schal lordschipyn to þe puple.
B. xv. l. 291 (MED)
I shulde nouȝt þis seuene dayes seggen hem alle, Þat lyueden þus for owre lordes loue manye longe ȝeres.
c1450 Form Excommun.
in G. Kristensson
We..dampne into þe peyn of helle Al þo that haue don thes articles that we haue seid bifore.
The same yle I said you Cicill is calt.
. To call or refer to by a specified name or description; to designate, define, or categorize as. Chiefly in passive
.In this sense , , , and are all more common in Old English.
b. With to be and a noun, adjective, participle, or phrase as complement. Cf. sense .
?a1425 tr. Guy de Chauliac
(N.Y. Acad. Med.)
f. 132 (MED)
Somtyme forsoþ it [sc. humour] descendeþ fro þe stomac & brayne in fourme of fume..And þan..it is seid to be made [L. dicitur..fieri] of a cause coniuncte or communicate.
a1530 W. Bonde
iii. f. CCxvv
He may not be sayd to be the holy goost, whiche is produced of ye father & the sone.
1566 T. Blundeville Order curing Horses Dis. f. 90v, in
The Horse is sayd to be styffled, when the styffling bone is remoued from his right place.
1671 J. Blagrave 165
A planet is said to be peregrine, when he is out of all essential dignities.
1769 W. Falconer
Knees are either said to be lodging or hanging.
1839 H. T. De la Beche iii. 72
This patch may be said to be dove-tailed into its highest part.
1878 T. H. Huxley
Rocks which thus allow water to filter through them are said to be permeable.
1933 A. S. Eddington ii. 57
No galaxy is more central than another, and none can be said to be at the outside.
2012 S. Seung xi. 190
As a mature adult, a zebra finch sings essentially the same song every time... The song is said to be ‘crystallized’.
c. With infinitive (other than to be) as complement.
?1556 L. Digges i. sig. Bv
A lyne is sayde to fall squirewise, when it cutteth any thinge, or any syde of a Triangle full crosse.
1593 T. Fale f. 4
If the plat standeth not upright, but maketh an obtuse or blunt angle with the Horizon, it is said to recline.
1607 J. Cowell sig. Kk4/1
A thing is said to lie in graunte, which cannot be assigned with out deede.
1679 J. Moxon I. ix. Explan. Terms 164
Timber is said to Bear at its whole length when neither a Brick wall or Posts, &c. stand between the ends of it.
1754 M. Murray ii. v. 189
When the ends of the two pieces are cut square and put together, they are said to butt to one another.
1838 T. Thomson 980
The trees are then said to bleed.
1899 F. Hooper & J. Graham 144
The names and the amounts on the back of a policy..would appear thus... Each of the above persons is said to ‘take a line’ in the policy.
1922 T. M. Lowry xxi. 238
The substances undergoing change are said to ‘burn’.
1963 23 May 4/7
The British women can be said to have gate-crashed the semi-final round.
2004 P. Ball
They are said to ‘satisfice’ rather than to maximize.
b. In passive. With of. Of a word: to be derived from. Obsolete.
Vor of crayme is yzed crist and of crist cristendom.
?a1425 tr. Guy de Chauliac
f. 35v (MED)
Þis word anothomia is seide of þis worde ano..and of þis worde thomas.
Lydgate Horse, Goose & Sheep
l. 57 in
Eques, ab 'equo,' is seid of verray riht, And cheualer is saide of cheualrye.
1597 G. Harvey To Rdr.
Lent (you know) is saide of leane, because it macerates & makes leane the bodye.
In extended use, with the idea of articulating, conveying, or communicating facts or information taking on a specific meaning contextually (usually within a restricted range of constructions), such as giving an order, deciding a question, or making an assumption or suggestion.
To order, direct, or enjoin someone to (a specified course of action); to tell or command someone (to do something). Also more weakly: to urge, advise.
(b) intransitive. In clauses introduced by as (in early use also †so), esp. do as I say. Later also transitive in clauses introduced by what (or whatever), as do what I say.
Do swa ic þe secge.
Doð swa hwæt swa he eow secge [L. quodcumque dixerit vobis].
l. 4416 (MED)
Wan we comeþ to þe brigge-gate..Doþ as y schal sayne.
l. 5106 (MED)
Als suith as we mai be graith we sal do as ȝe haue said.
c1450 MS Douce 52 in
Thow shall do as þe preste says, but not as þe preste doos.
a1500 Ratis Raving
l. 1088 in R. Girvan
Fore-thi, my sone, do as I say, And It sal lyk the, dare I lay.
1566 T. Underdowne sig. B.vv
Do as I saye, if thou hast ought vpon thy selfe regarde.
1635 H. Mason xiii. 647
If we consider that it is God who speaketh, it will cause us to think our selves bound to do, what hee saith.
1838 Apr. 527
Stay with me, Eily, I advise—I warn you!..I speak only from general probabilities, and these would suggest the great wisdom of your acting as I say.
1872 E. Walker i. 19
If he says, Obey, do it—do whatever He says.
1875 B. Jowett tr. Plato
Be persuaded by me, and do as I say.
1934 D. Thomas Dec.
Now do be an angel, & do what I say.
1959 F. Astaire
If they'll promise to work I'll take them on but they must have the heart, the incentive, the will to practice and do as I say.
1979 R. B. Parker
It pleased him that she did what he said without argument.
2011 A. Gibbons
Imran did his best. ‘Do as he says, Chris. There's no point both of us getting a kicking.’
b. transitive in passive. To accept orders, direction, or advice. Chiefly in negative contexts. Cf. . Now regional (chiefly Irish English).
1588 in W. Greenwell
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.].
1650 J. Trapp (Gen. xxxix. 10) 304
Satan will not be said with a little.
1847 J. S. Le Fanu xliv. 280
‘Come, boys, he's a rale detarmined Turk of a chap,’ said the sergeant, irefully; ‘he won't be said by you or me.’
1855 F. K. Robinson 146
In spite of all I can do, she wont be sayed.
1888 ‘R. Boldrewood’ xxxix
Father didn't get well all at once. He went back twice..and wouldn't be said by Aileen.
1928 A. E. Pease 108/1
He winnot be said.
1974 J. B. Keane Lett. of Love-Hungry Farmer in
He watched the styles of others and learned the hard way. I hope you'll be said by me. Watch out for yourself.
2010 J. O'Connor
Your sister won't be said.
b. intransitive. With unto. To censure, rebuke; to reproach. Obsolete.
(Winch. Coll. 13)
The Bysshop had of the kynge hys grete seale and hys assuraunce..that the quene shulde nat be seyde unto of the kynge..for nothynge done of tyme paste.
To suppose or assume to be the case. Usually in imperative
or in let us say
. In imperative
or let us say
, used parenthetically.
(a) Indicating that the following (in later use also preceding) words express what is assumed or supposed to be the case, or specify a selected example or instance.
1736 Bp. J. Butler i. iii. 66
Pleasure and Pain are to a certain Degree, say to a very high Degree, distributed amongst us without any apparent Regard to the Merit or Demerit of Characters.
1795 W. Clubbe tr. Horace 71
A Woodcock, let us say, by chance is sent To you.
1837 T. Carlyle II. iv. v. 233
Huge leathern vehicle;—huge Argosy, let us say, or Acapulco-ship; with its heavy stern-boat of Chaise-and-pair.
1837 No. 480. 6
A Venus—say of Parian marble in early Greek style.
1861 Dickens III. xiii. 198
Early in the week, or say Wednesday.
1875 A. Cayley in 13 321
Radius vectors belonging to the same angle (or say opposite angles).
1904 Nov. 443
He contends that a steel piston-rod, let us say, made of apparently the best materials that can be got, is liable at any moment to fracture.
1927 12 Oct. 208/1
I daresay the drummer sees no difference between Gary and, say, Newark.
1940 W. Faulkner 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.
1990 65 338
Casual examination of Document A and Documents B might lead even a lay person (a juror, let's say) to suspect that they were authored by the same person.
2011 12 July 27/3
Unlike, say, the 1972 reports by the Club of Rome, the planetary boundaries concept does not necessarily imply any limit to human economic growth or productivity.
(b) Indicating that a following (in later use also preceding) designation of number, quantity, etc., is a reasonable approximation or is offered as a hypothetical example.
1817 W. Sewall 22 Aug.
He offers [as salary] $17.00. Rather a large school, say 80. I put forward.
1861 28 May 161/1
One leg is filled with water weighing (let us say) 2½ ozs.
1863 C. Kingsley
The wages of my people..average 11s. per week... Harvesting, say £5 more.
1876 W. E. Gladstone 143
But if the period of (say) 100 years subdivides itself.
1898 T. C. Allbutt et al. V. 450
Equal volumes of, say, thirty and forty-fold diluted normal acid.
1952 3 Feb. ii. 1/7
An easy gradation to anyone who can take it in leisurely stride—let's say, in the space of maybe three weeks, with plenty of rest and decompression in between.
1966 15 Sept. 388/3
A production volume of say, 20,000 units a year.
2009 19 Dec. 75/2
Almost every viral has a catalyst moment at which it has a big leap of, say, 100,000 viewers at once.
(also sometimes intransitive
). To convey information without using words; to indicate.
b. To indicate symbolically; to signify or suggest by its very nature.
1905 Jan. 521
The calendar says, ‘It's the first day of May,’ But the weather says, ‘It's December.’
1970 P. Laurie iii. 68
To me drugs say beatniks, layabouts..kids going to ruin.
1972 A. Ross 33
His shirt said custom-made silk even at that distance.
2009 J. P. Hasty iii. 16
Her perfume said, ‘expensive’.
a. Of a clock or watch: to indicate (a specified time). Also of a calendar: to indicate (a specified date).
1615 T. Scot Certaine Pieces This Age Parabolized in
The Clocke said one and past.
1700 W. Congreve i. i. 4
Betty, what says your Clock?
1861 Mar. 87/1
The clock says five minutes past two.
1930 W. Faulkner 237
The clock said twenty past twelve.
1973 W. J. Burley v. 105
The perpetual calender said Wednesday August 25th.
2011 S. Rossmiller xi. 200
Before I knew it the clock said 7:30 a.m.
b. Of an instrument, meter, dial, etc.: to register (a particular measurement or reading). Cf. .
1826 R. P. Gillies II. 117
The reader will, perhaps, expect, and very naturally, that I, who talk of temperature, should tell him what the thermometer said on these occasions.
1873 28 June 842/2
The thermometer said 82° instead of 48°.
1913 W. S. Hall 16
The thermometer says 37 and that's only 5 degrees above freezing.
1977 T. McLaughlin iv. 43
If the voltmeter says 240V, set the voltage tapping of the set to this figure.
2011 C. Hodge xix. 246
A learner driver is travelling at 60km/h (at least that's what the speedo says) in a 60km/h zone.
22. Of a sum of money: to stand as a bet or wager (that the specified outcome is the case). Usually in the present tense.
1873 ‘J. Morris’ xxxvi. 454
There's twelve hundred dollars that says yer can't pick up the Jack!
1954 W. Tucker xii. 184
A dollar says you won't come back.
1975 J. Gores iii. 28
I've got twenty at four-to-seven that says the semifinal is a draw.
1985 J. Sullivan
I. 4th Ser. Episode 5. 239
Rodney. He won't have to have an operation! Del. A fiver says he does! Rodney. Alright, you're on!
2007 G. Friesen xix. 200
A dollar says you don't have the nerve.
orig. and chiefly North American
Used to express surprise or to attract attention. Cf. .
?a1832 F. Trollope Notebks. in
App. A. 427
1852 1 122/1
Say—d'you run with our machine?
1857 J. G. Holland xxvi. 336
Say! What are you laughing at?
1888 5 May 72/1
Say, boys, let's climb the mountain.
1913 J. London 20 Nov.
The galley stove kept going..and hot coffee—say!
1941 B. Schulberg ii. 32
Say, I didn't expect all this.
1988 R. E. Brown i. 20
Say, buddy, don't you know a goat from a sow?
2003 29 May (Special Report section) 18/4
Say, are you sure we haven't webbed before?
With adverbs in specialized senses. to say away
† to say before
orig. and chiefly Scottish
intransitive. To say what one has to say, to have one's say; to hold forth, speak. Usually in imperative. Cf. .
1783 J. Brown ii. 59
Ay, it'll saffen the bass pipe awee—Say away Birky.
1801 W. Beattie
Now, say awa', and fa' to it.
1821 Scott I. viii. 204
Say away, therefore, as confidently as if you spoke to your father.
1877 J. M. Neilson 51
Weel, jist say awa.
1911 C. F. Horne tr. In Search Castaways Austral. i. 172 in J. Verne IV.
‘Say away, McNabbs,’ replied Glenarvan.
2009 M. Hollister xxix. 230
‘I have something to say.’.. ‘Say away, my love.’
Obsolete to say forth
transitive. To prophesy, foretell.In quot. intransitive in a parenthetic clause introduced by as (cf. sense ).
[Compare earlier . Compare also classical Latin praedīcere ]
2 Cor. xiii. 2
I seide bifore, and seye bifore [L. Prædixi, et prædico]..to hem that bifore han synned, and to alle othere; for if I schal come eftsoone, I schal not spare.
This prophecye is now spad..þerfore mankend may be glad, As prophetys be-forn han seyd.
Whan y [sc. David] was quykke, than seyde y befor the myserycorde of oure Lorde..and of hys merveyles that he schuld do.
to say on
1. intransitive. To say what one has to say; to hold forth, speak. Usually in imperative. Cf. .
Gif ðu wilt bien siker of rihte ileaue, ðane sei ðu forð mid seinte Petre [etc.]
i. l. 184
‘Sey forth,’ quod sche, ‘and tell me how’.
i. 226 (MED)
Sey forth, Y preye þe.
a1522 G. Douglas tr. Virgil
i. Prol. l. 478
Quha can do bettir sa furth in Goddis name.
1921 A. Orbeck tr. H. Ibsen Catiline ii, in 47
Come, say forth [Da. sig frem]! What was his answer?
1991 P. Anderson Star of Sea iii, in 310
If you will, say forth.
2. transitive. To utter, speak; spec. to speak (one's mind, etc.), say (what one has to say). In early use often in imperative.
[Compare Old English forþsecgan to make known, declare, utter (only in psalter glosses, after classical Latin prōnuntiāre ).]
Prol. l. 51
Sey forth thy tale and tarie noght the tyme.
?1507 W. Dunbar Tua Mariit Wemen
I sall say furth the suth.
?1548 J. Bale ii. sig. Bv
Saye fourth your mynde good mother.
1618 R. Broughton sig. A8v
Yet al can not say forth of affection with the holie Apostle, ‘Who shal seperate vs from the loue of Christ?’
He said forth right hastily, The words that grievd him greatumlie.
1808 Scott i. xxiii. 45
Well hast thou spoke; say forth thy say.
1862 M. Oliphant vi. 104
That longed-for pulpit, in which he could say forth unchecked the message that was in him.
1997 P. Anderson
Skalds stepped before the king to say forth the praises of him and his friend.
to say out
1. intransitive. To say what one has to say; to hold forth, speak. Usually in imperative. Cf. earlier . Now somewhat archaic.
[Compare Middle High German sag an, imperative (German sag an, now arch.).]
‘Sei on, dame!’ and ssche bigan To tellen als a fals wimman.
1490 Caxton tr.
‘But here my wordes, yf it playse you,’ ‘saye on hardely,’ sayd the kynge.
1517 in B. Cusack
[Deposition, Cambridgeshire] Petur Edward Seyd on to the Company.
1611 1 Kings ii. 14
He said moreouer, I haue somewhat to say vnto thee. And she saide, Say on .
1667 Milton viii. 228
Say therefore on .
1754 J. Elphinston tr. F. Fénelon I. xxiv. 142
Say on, say on, dear Aristotle, thou now hast no measures to keep.
1851 Tennyson 57
Yet say on.
1888 C. M. Doughty II. xvii. 500
Say on..if thou canst allege aught against me.
1966 E. Amadi ix. 59
‘I have something important to say to you.’ ‘Say on.’
1992 B. Lumley
Say on then: what will it take to put him down?
†2. transitive (in imperative). To say (what one has to say); to speak (one's mind). Obsolete.
(St. John's Cambr.)
Tharfor sais on ȝour will planly.
?1547 J. Bale iv. sig. Ciijv
I wyll first conclude, and then saye on thy mynde.
II. ii. l. 2435
Dame Fesonas say on ȝour thocht.
1599 sig. I
Sir knight let me one question craue, Say on your mind. Where is that Lady now become, to whom your plighted faith you gaue?
to say over
1. transitive. To say openly or publicly; to make known. Frequently with loud (or aloud) after Middle English (cf. ).
[Compare earlier and the Germanic parallels cited at that entry. Compare also classical Latin ēdīcere to say out loud, to announce (see ).]
Dan. iv. 15
Alle the wijse men of my rewme mown not saye out [L. edicere] to me the solucioun.
l. 4583 (MED)
I say yt out, me lyst nat rovne, Thus ye shuld hir name expovne.
1529 T. More i. xxii. f. xxx
He reuokyd hys reuocacion and sayd out alowd that he myghte well be harde, yt hys oppynyon was trewe, and that he was yt day beefore deceyuyd in that he had confessyd yt for false.
1602 tr. G. Corrozet 289
Theocritus said out all aloude: See how he is readie to powre out a floud of words, whereas he hath not one drop of reason.
1790 J. Bruce IV. vii. ix. 226
Somebody said out loud, Ozoro Esther is taken prisoner.
1853 E. C. Gaskell I. xiii. 275
Miss Benson said boldly out, ‘The lady I named in my note, Sally.’
1864 J. H. Newman
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.
1880 R. L. Stevenson 26 Dec.
Persons speak so much in large-drawn, theological similitudes, and won't say out what they mean about life, and man, and God, in fair and square human language.
1928 D. H. Lawrence iv. 37
You don't prudishly put your tongue between your teeth and bite it. You just say out your say.
1971–2 E. McCabe in Winter 13
Let him say out what's in his hand.
1994 R. Bailie in R. Ekins & R. Freeman ii. viii. 182
A danger that threatened if, for example, forbidden words were said out.
†2. transitive. To finish saying (what one has to say). Chiefly with cognate object. Obsolete.
1440 J. Capgrave
l. 261 (MED)
He saide oute his masse & made a fayre ende.
1692 R. L'Estrange ci. 95
He had no sooner say'd out his Say, but [etc.].
1768 A. Tucker II. ii. 273
He would not interrupt me for fear I should not have time to say out all my say.
a1843 R. Southey
I shall say out my say in disregard of both.
1896 June 84/2
I'm goin' to say out what I started to.
transitive. To repeat or recite from memory.
Ezek. xii. 23
Y shal make this prouerbe for to reste, nether opynli, or euery where, it shal be seide ouer [L.V. be seid comynli, L. vulgo dicetur] in Israel.
1560 J. Daus tr. J. Sleidane f. ccxxxj
Let the poorer sorte oftymes saye ouer theyr Pater noster, and after receyue the Sacrament.
Or that a Man in Anger is as Wise as he, that hath said ouer the foure and twenty Letters.
1680 R. Baxter xxxvi. 60
It is lawful to hear an ignorant raw Lad, that saith over a dry Sermon as a Boy saith his Lesson.
1734 J. Wesley 15 Jan.
I take religion to be, not the bare saying over so many prayers, morning and evening..but a constant ruling of soul.
1852 VI. No. 176. 6
These thoughts, I say, are what a Christian man ought to have when he is saying over the Lord's Prayer.
1884 W. C. Smith 47
Doris made a comic rhyme of it, And said it over to me.
1902 F. M. Crawford xviii. 270
She knew all the fourteenth canto of the ‘Paradise’,..and said it over.
2006 J. Carey ii. vii. 245
Learn a poem by heart and you have it for ever. You never again have to consult a text. You can say it over to yourself in the small hours.
Contrasted with do
in proverbial phrases and locutions.
a. In phrases criticizing a discrepancy between a person's words and actions, or asserting the necessity of good actions in addition to good words, as say and do not, say one thing and do another, say well and do well, etc. Cf. , .Frequently in, or with allusion to, Matthew 23:3.
Healdað & wyrceað swa hwæt swa hig secgeaþ & ne do ge na æfter heora worcum; Hig secgeað & ne doð [L. dicunt enim et non faciunt].
Do swa summ þu seȝȝdesst.
Matt. xxiii. 3
Sothely thei seien, and don nat.
a1500 tr. Thomas à Kempis
Shal I be like a man þat saiþ & doþe not?
1536 R. Morison sig. E.iii
Men say wel that do wel.
1611 Matt. xxiii. 3
But doe not ye after their workes: for they say, and doe not.
1646 J. Bastwick To Rdr. sig. A4v
They are so unrighteous in all their proceedings, and when they say one thing and do and practice another.
1692 tr. Sallust sig. (a6)
So hard a thing it is for a Man to say well and do well.
1758 E. Carter tr. Epictetus iii. vii. 246
We too say one Thing, and do another: we talk well, and act ill.
1813 Dec. 519/1
Those who say and do not rather injure, than subserve the cause which they pretend to espouse.
1846 J. F. Cooper xv. 218
My children, never forget this. You are not pale-faces, to say one thing and do another. What you say, you do.
1911 23 Sept. 447/2
A man ought to be real in all he says and does. He ought not to say one thing and do another.
1970 Matt. xxiii. 3
But do not follow their practice; for they say one thing and do another.
8 Oct. (Business section) 37
That's traders for you: say one thing, do another.
b. easier (also quicker, sooner) said than done : used to indicate that an idea, instruction, etc., is difficult or awkward to put into practice. Also no sooner said than done: used to indicate that a suggestion or instruction will be or has been immediately acted upon.
?1532 T. Paynell tr. Erasmus xi. sig. N.iijv
Whan a man..muste do euery thynge as an other shall commaunde hym, orels to be ledde after the luste and pleasure of an other, is sooner sayd than done [L. dictu est quam factu proclivius].
1546 J. Heywood ii. v. sig. Hivv
As ye can seeme wise in words, be wise in dede. That is (quoth she) sooner sayd than done, I drede.
1657 R. Ligon 92
I have yet said nothing of making white Sugars, but that is much quicker said than done.
1692 T. Taylor tr. G. Daniel i. 29
She would not tell me presently of the Accident, but only invited me to take a turn or two: No sooner said than done.
1746 W. Bollan v. 107
A good Fleet at Sea, would prevent their landing... This is a Thing much easier said, than done.
1788 A. Jardine II. xxiv. 239
We strangers and sojourners here are very apt to think we could easily improve this country... It is easier said than done.
1832 W. Stephenson 66
I'll tell you slobber-chops, You'll find that sooner said than done—perhaps.
1892 Mar. 50
The filtration of milk was a thing which was much quicker said than done.
1921 15 Jan. 67/1
The first law of creative literature is make every character interesting. More easily said than done, of course.
1962 H. T. Strother xi. 157
Someone shouted: ‘Water would do no harm to a dirty abolitionist!’ No sooner said than done; the mob obtained buckets and began dousing the members with water.
2011 T. Ronald
The best and safest course of action for me was to work hard and keep my head down... Easier said than done.
P2. a. that is to say
(also which is to say
, this is to say
, †that is at say
[Compare Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French c'est a dire (12th cent.; French c'est à dire, c'est-à-dire).]
(a) Used to introduce a more explicit or intelligible restatement of a preceding expression, esp. to gloss one taken from a foreign language or a different variety of English. Later also used to introduce a plain, unvarnished statement of a fact which a preceding expression misrepresents or euphemistically veils.
He shollde itt hæwenn..att te treowwess rote, Þatt iss to seggenn..Rihht att tatt follkess ende.
MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris
2nd Ser. 3
Aduent þat is seggen on englis ure louerd ihesu cristes tocume.
MS Lamb. in R. Morris
1st Ser. 123
Ðet is to seggane: Gif þa hefdmen of þissere worlde hefden icnawen crist, nefden heo nefre ifestned hine on rode for ure hele.
Þis is to seie, i telle þe: ‘Þe clene of herte, blessed þeih be’.
Þat es hele of þa þat ere in sekenes, þat es at say in sinne.
Seing, thus, Quomodo fiet istud? this is to seye, how shulde this be I-done?
1566 T. Blundeville Order curing Horses Dis. xcv. f. 67v, in
And also an other disease called Procidentia ani, that is to say the falling out of the fundament, which the Phisitians do accoumpt as seuerall diseases.
1604 E. Grimeston tr. J. de Acosta v. xvii. 374
A lake..which they call Ezapangue, which is to say, water of blood.
1677 Duke of Lauderdale in O. Airy
III. lvii. 89
They pretend they cannot suppress these disorders, that is to say they will doe nothing towards it.
1742 J. Fraser 126
Tokbîr is repeating three times these words,..Allah Akbar, which is to say, God is Greatest.
1818 Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian in 2nd Ser. I. iv. 50
Porteous has become liable to the pœna extra ordinem, or capital punishment; which is to say, in plain Scotch, the gallows.
1824 J. G. Gorton tr. Voltaire VI. 140
The laws of the Jews did not forbid oneiromancy, that is to say, the science of dreams.
1858 M. Oliphant I. 309
It was a little room..what is called in these regions ‘coomcieled’, which is to say, the roof sloped on one side, being close under the leads.
1923 R. Kipling I. 58
The Irish ‘drummed up’, which is to say, stewed their tea or rations.
2009 10 Aug. 30/2
Seventeen of the accused were killed through ‘extra legal violence’—that is to say, lynched.
(b) Introducing more detailed information or a specific example: to be specific; namely.Examples with which rather than that are rare before the 20th cent.
a1325 Diuersa Cibaria in C. B. Hieatt & S. Butler
When a mete is to muche isalt, þat is to suggen, potagee, to maken remedie in god stat, [etc.].
1395 in F. J. Furnivall
I bequethe to the same Thomas, the stoffe longyng therto, that is to seye, my beste fetherbed [etc.].
A fissh þt is waterlees That is to seyn, a Monk out of his Cloystre.
The Byble in English; that is to saye, the Content of all the Holy Scripture.
1569 R. Grafton II. 130
Two Aldermen more.., that is to say, Arnold Thedmare, & Henry Walmode.
1645 No. 50. 397
The persons made incapable of any place or office towards the Law, that is to say, all Judges and Officers towards the Law (Common and Civill) who have deserted Parliament, and adhered to the Enemies thereof.
1687 A. Lovell tr. J. de Thévenot ii. 25
Three hours after, that's to say, about eleven a Clock.
1725 D. Defoe ii. 88
A very handsome Table, covered with..a cold Treat, that is to say, Cold roasted Mutton and Beef.
1793 Sept. 69/1
The line of the liver sufficiently long, that is to say, extending to the middle of the natural line.
1864 J. Bryce iii. 31
Francia Occidentalis, that is to say, Neustria and Aquitaine.
1928 S. C. Herold i. 6
Their numerical values appear only in the form of comparative data; this is to say, the numerical values of the properties of oil, gas, and water are immaterial, except in the form of proportional values.
1966 H. Davies
Synagogues, like shops, are at their most unwelcoming during their high season—which is to say, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
3 Mar. d1/5
The spacecraft's mission will be to discover Earth-like planets in Earth-like places—that is to say, in the..zones around stars where liquid water can exist.
†b. to say: = . Obsolete.
1547 J. Hooper v. D iij
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.
1547 J. Hooper vi. E viij
Hym that had the imperie and dominion of deathe to say the deuill.
1579 T. North tr. Plutarch 529
Gymnasiarchus, to say, a master of exercises of youth.
1615 Worcs. Inventory in J. West
Item, corne In the Barne, to say Rye and Barley.
c. Reduced to the simple form say (interpretable as imperative or infinitive), used in commercial and administrative contexts to introduce the restatement of a numerical quantity in a particular form, e.g. in specific units or in words rather than figures (and vice versa): that is to say; equivalent to. Now rare.Probably influenced by the similar use of say in variation with the fuller let us say: see sense .
[Compare Dutch zegge, zeg that is to say, lit. ‘you could say’ (1626 with reference to synonyms, 1851 with reference to figures).]
1796 T. Jefferson Let. 22 Feb. in
There are very few acres..which would not furnish 30. stocks, say 3000. f. of plank underreckoned.
1841 Thackeray ii
The widow, sir, came with her money: nine hundred and four, ten and six—say 904l. 10s. 6d.
1862 i. 7
Of the receipts, American tobacco constituted 19,846,198 kilogrammes—say 43,661,635 pounds, about thirty thousand hogsheads in all.
1877 46 803 /2
As cargo is coming on ship's account, freight is to be computed at 55s. (say fifty-five shillings) per ton of 2,240 lbs.
1896 Rep. Secretary of Agric. p. xxxi, in (54th Congr., 2nd Sess.: House of Representatives Doc. 6) XX
The Canadian barrels weigh gross about 1½ hundredweight (say 168 pounds) and net 130 to 140 pounds.
1900 June 71
One and two-thirds of a mile (say 3,000 yards) from where it had been picked up.
Idiomatic use of the infinitive, to say
, in parenthetic phrases.
In adverbial phrases, modifying a whole sentence or clause, and commenting either on the content of what is said (typically its truthfulness or its emotive impact) or on the manner in which it is said (typically its brevity).
(a) Modified by an adverb, as shortly to say, soothly to say, etc.
[With compare Anglo-Norman brefment a dire and Middle French briefment a dire (13th cent. or earlier), cortement a dire (a1307 or earlier).]
Þyder sceolan þeafas & þeodscaþan, &, raþost to secgenne [OE Hatton hrædest to secganne], ealle þu [read þa] manfullan þe god gremiaþ.
Bote to sigge [a1400 Trin. Cambr. segge, ?a1425 Digby seye] ssortliche þer nas ver ne ner Of prowesse ne of corteisie in þe world is per.
Gattothed was she, soothly for to seye.
And schortly to seye ȝou, þei suffren so grete peynes.
1521 tr. C. de Pisan ii. xxvj. sig. f.iv
Shortely to saye, so moche she dyde, & so moche she purchaced for hym that she delyuered hym not onely from his exyle, but from his dethe also.
?1541 R. Copland tr. Galen sig. Cjv
Proprely to say these two maners of curyng ar called Prophilactykes in Greke.
ii. ii. 12
And indeed such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the Court.
1868 W. Morris 536
Shortly to say, there neither man nor maid Was safe afield whether they wrought or played.
1922 42 146/1
Happily to say, a little orange juice added to the food and the disease disappears promptly.
31 Dec. a6
Christmas day has come and gone..and sadly to say another opportunity has been lost.
(b) With a noun as object, as to say (the) truth . Frequently with the noun preceding the infinitive, as sooth to say, truth to say, shame to say, etc.to say the least: see .
Soþ to seggen, ic not ȝif ich auerȝete ani ðing dede ðat ic nolde habbe sumes kennes lean.
Libel Eng. Policy
in T. Wright
Ffor here martis bene feble, shame to saye.
1484 Caxton tr. iv. viii
Oftyme for to saye trouthe men lese theyre lyues.
1577 H. I. tr. H. Bullinger II. iv. v. sig. Fff.ijv/1
And to saye sooth, they doe not worship God at all.
1587 W. Harrison Hist. Descr. Iland Brit.
ii. i. 136/2 in
And to saie truth, one..of these small liuings is of so little value, that it is not able to mainteine a meane scholar.
1600 J. Lane 713
But sooth to say, Tom-teltroth will not lie, We heere haue blaz'd Englands iniquitie.
1710 Swift 30 Nov.
But, to say the truth, the present ministry have a difficult task, and want me, &c.
1749 H. Fielding IV. xii. iii. 206
To say the Truth, we have..often done great Violence to the Luxuriance of our Genius.
1835 J. P. Kennedy I. xxv. 169
To say truth, he has a bold and most mischievous spirit.
1845 ‘E. Warburton’ 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
The investigation of this question, which, truth to say, was one of importance.
1900 A. G. Bradley vi. 179
Tolerance of such departures from the manners and customs they were used to..could hardly be looked for in the average officer of that day, who, to say truth, was not distinguished either for adaptability or breadth of understanding.
1923 P. Guedalla ii. 169
To say truth, the curriculum is, from the educational point of view, the least significant thing in Oxford.
1969 tr. Fructuosus of Braga II. 181
Although most of our detractors are deserters of monasteries, they honor them highly and—shame to say—heap dignities upon them.
1995 R. Ford
Truth to say, I was as happy as I expected to be.
(c) Preceded by an adjective, as sad to say, strange to say, etc.
OE tr. Chrodegang of Metz
(Corpus Cambr. 191)
Hi..beoð abysgode þar na ymbe godcundlice þing, ac ymbe woroldþing, and þæt sceandlic is to secganne [L. quod dictu nefas est], ymbe fracede and fullice spræca.
1652 P. Heylyn i. 268
Both joy'd in being Conquer'd (strange to say) And yet both mourn'd because both won the day.
1797 tr. C.-F. Dumouriez Pref. 6
Strange to say, its government forbids the exertion.
1818 T. Moore Diary 26 Oct. in
Which disconcerted the latter (who, strange to say, is a very grave, steady person) considerably.
1850 Aug. 138
Men, sad to say, though they admit the unanswerable ability of a speech, seldom allow their votes to be influenced by it.
1897 27 Feb. 338/1
One Thursday morning, blithe and gay A roguish student ‘skived’ away; He met the Prefect—sad to say—And got six notes.
1934 J. A. Thomson & E. J. Holmyard II. 1290
Man's neck is..relatively long, strange to say, as compared with a whale's, though the whale belongs to the same class, Mammalia.
1950 43 116/1
Our contemporary world rejects the classics. It applauds psychology, educationism, science, and, sad to say, the social studies.
1998 P. McCabe
You were made of strong stuff and no mistake—which, sorry to say, Miss Pussy wasn't!
1999 30 Oct. 39/5
Safe to say, the Buffalo boys have wrung every last drop of fire or skill out of the song.
(d) to say better (also better to say): introducing a more exact or appropriate description or form of words.
1536 R. Morison sig. A.ii
In tyme of sedition, lawes lese their voyces, or to say better, in suche ragious outcries of souldiours..men waxe thicke of herynge.
1585 T. Washington tr. N. de Nicolay iv. xv. 130
The auncient towne of the Sun called Heliopolis, or to say better, Solos or Soloe.
1653 H. Cogan tr. F. M. Pinto xxii. 79
Mounted on horses, or to say better, on lean carrion Tits that were nothing but skin and bone.
1666 J. Davies tr. E. d'Aranda 15
I lay in their Chamber, or to say better, Kennel.
1759 Johnson in C. Lennox tr. P. Brumoy III. 128
In a city so free, or to say better [Fr. disons mieux], as licentious as Athens was at that time.
1787 P. H. Maty tr. J. K. Riesbeck II. xxxv. 91
Russia bore all the expence of the Turkish, or to say better, Polish war.
1828 C. Swan tr. A. Manzoni II. viii. 230
Every thing arranges itself, or to say better, nothing is spoiled.
1894 July 431/2
The imaginary conversations of William Dean Howells with himself, or to say better, between the several conflicting elements in Mr. Howells's character,..have here been collected in a substantial volume.
1962 2 Oct. 3/2
The Thoroughbred, it seems, had a hand, or better to say a hoof, in one of America's more romantic bits of folk lore.
2013 G. Galluzzo I. iii. 285
For him [sc. Thomas Aquinas] the aliquid of natural generation is a composite of matter and form, or to say better, one of the species a composite of matter and form belongs to.
(e) so to say: used to indicate that something is being described in an unusual, metaphorical, or creative way; ‘as it were’. Cf. .
[Compare Dutch zoo te zeggen (1582), German so zu sagen, sozusagen (16th cent. or earlier).]
1619 E. M. Bolton tr. Florus iii. xxi. 361
Things, so to say [L. ut sic dixerim], were planet-strucken with three bad influences.
It will make every religious string, so to say, more intense and tinnient.
1770 W. Hooper tr. J. F. von Bielfeld III. vi. 53
He has a thousand virtues, a thousand good qualitys, with some small faults, which form, so to say, the shades of the picture.
1823 M. R. Mitford in Sept. 501/2
My flowers..withered and faded and pined away; they almost, so to say, panted for drought.
1886 C. E. Pascoe
Having now, so to say, presented our humble duty to the Lord Mayor..let us retrace our steps.
1930 J. Laird iv. 103
Perfectly convincing evidence might turn up, so to say, ambulando, when we are engaged in something irrelevant.
1993 27 Sept. 40/1
There seldom is anyone around with a political pooper-scooper, so to say.
b. not to say
(a) Used to introduce a stronger alternative or addition to something already said (suggesting that the speaker or writer might reasonably have used this stronger term).
1590 T. Rogers 23
If you speake not in good sooth, it is fondlie, but if seriously you thinke as in plaine tearmes you write, it is erroniously, not to say blasphemouslie set downe.
By this reckning Moses should bee most unmosaick, that is, most illegal, not to say most unnaturall.
a1661 T. Fuller
This Parish..ever was (not to say is) one of the richest in London, which their Signlesse houses doe avouch.
1794 S. Williams 254
That there appeared a manifest inequality, not to say predetermination, that Congress should request of their constituents power to judge and determine in the cause.
1834 6 June 3/6
To attempt to play the protectionist or prohibitionist in places where we had no power, appeared to him an impossibility, not to say an absurdity.
1922 21 126
The discussion in the press was bitter, not to say vitriolic. Accrimination and recrimination were hurled impartially from both sides.
2008 23 May (All about Town section) p. xii
Certainly ‘Crystal Skull’ couldn't have had a more eager, not to say rabid, audience anywhere in the world.
(b) colloquial. Used conversationally to dispute an assertion made by another speaker; ‘one should not say’, ‘do not say’. Now rare.
1857 Trollope xliv
‘Am not I [growing old], my dear?’ ‘No, papa, not old—not to say old’.
1905 Oct. 532/2
Not to say old, an' not to say slab-sided. Anyway, not so slab-sided as she looks from here.
c. to say nothing of : used to refer to an additional fact or point which reinforces the speaker's or writer's case (a rhetorical device suggesting that the full strength of the argument is not being presented); = .
1592 G. Babington (xlv.) f. 174
Suffer not onely other frendes in kindred neere them (to say nothing of the naked members of Christ) but euen their Parents that bred and bare them.
1637 J. Bastwick i. 19
Greater cruelty..(to say nothing of deuillary, atheisme and popery) I know no where.
His Rational of Private State in Britain, to say nothing of other inferior Officers.
1742 W. Ellis II. ii. 35
Oaken Coals, beaten and mix'd with Honey, cure the Carbuncle; to say nothing of the Viscus's, Polypods, and other Excrescencies, of which innumerable Remedies are composed.
1784 R. Bage I. 344
The very air of the south of France is almost a specific for it [sc. consumption], to say nothing of the faculty there, who are peculiarly great in this malady.
1839 R. Dawes I. 120
It will be the fault of us, the mechanics of Boston, if we don't re-model, and re-rig, to say nothing of re-anchoring the public ship.
1868 M. E. Grant Duff 127
Murder, to say nothing of assault and battery, has been..an everyday matter.
1962 (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.
1976 J. Crosby xxxii. 191
Elf was her revolutionary sister-in-arms... To say nothing of her lover.
2009 13 Aug. 14/4
Its commerce causes great harm to the Amazonian rainforests of Brazil and Peru, to say nothing of the indigenous people.
P4. In proverbial phrases used parenthetically to excuse an apparently boastful comment, as though I say it that should not, though I say it myself, etc.
Al so ich segge bi mi solue, Betere is min on þan þine twelue.
B. xvii. l. 17
For þough I seye it my-self I haue saued with þis charme Of men & of wommen many score þousandes.
Though I sey it my-self I am a man of myght.
1599 sig. C1
Though I say it that should not say it.
1606 T. Heywood
Shall a yong man as I am, and though I say it, indifferent proper, goe [etc.].
1663 W. Clark i. v. 7
I protest, Mistress, you are very handsome, though I say it that should not say it.
1736 T. Sheridan in
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).
1746 Ld. Chesterfield 26 Feb.
I. lxxvi. 227
A book that I published not quite fourteen years ago: it is a small quarto; and, though I say it myself, there is something good in it.
1818 2 214/2
My adversary might find it, however, (though I say it that shouldn't say it) in the vulgar phrase, rather a tough job.
1842 Dickens 1 May
I do believe, though I say it as shouldn't, that they [sc. Dickens's children] are good 'uns.
1892 C. M. Yonge i. 13
Ours is reckoned one of the best choirs..though I say it as should not say it.
1911 Nov. 990/2
You've had yer board and keep, an' it's not many men that's the pervider that I am, ef I do say it that shouldn't.
1991 A. Bennett
If only in a spirit of ‘I told you so’, I noted in the course of the eighties various news items.., which bore out the central thesis of the play and proved it to have been, though I say so myself, prophetic.
1996 T. Parker v. 185
I suppose though I say it myself I must have been a quick learner.
2008 C. Dunn ix. 108
A finer body of men I couldn't wish for, though I say it as shouldn't.
In other parenthetic phrases.
a. as they say: used parenthetically to indicate that a form of words is a proverb, a hackneyed or commonplace expression, or a piece of jargon or technical term.
J. Tiptoft tr. Cicero
As they saye [L. ut aiunt], we vse not fyre or water in moo places, than we vse frendship.
1546 J. Heywood ii. vi. sig. Iii
This byteth the mare by the thumbe, as they sey.
1577 H. I. tr. H. Bullinger II. iv. iv. sig. Eee.vv/2
Thou arte..foreknowledged, as they say, to damnation.
1640 J. Howell 70
This huge Olive, which flourishd so long,..fell, as they say, of vermiculation, being all worme-eaten within.
1680 Dryden i. i. 8
And, before George, I grew tory rory, as they say.
1725 N. Bailey tr. Erasmus 209
I lately began to read Seneca's Epistles, and stumbled, as they say, at the very Threshold.
1773 O. Goldsmith v. 96
Stout horses and willing minds make short journies, as they say.
1813 J. K. Paulding
He..was between hawk and buzzard, as they say.
1883 2 293
A very cheerful..gentleman..who was talking away to me, nineteen to the dozen, as they say.
1930 A. P. Herbert xxii. 321
Ernest, as they say, ‘saw red’.
1977 J. Thomson iii. 43
Water under the bridge, as they say.
1999 May 57/3
The happiest outcome is that a deer..can be tranquilized (‘tranked’, as they say in the trade) and set free.
2010 4 June 53/4
He met a potter who was selling his business and..decided to buy it and learn the trade. And the rest, as they say, is history.
b. shall we say: used parenthetically to call attention to a description which is strikingly original or evocative, or (in later use) a knowing euphemism or understatement.In use indicating a euphemism occasionally hyphenated, as if an attributive adjectival phrase (see, e.g., quot. ).
1822 21 Dec. 800/3
The ‘Leddy’..is Mrs. Pringle dilated... This last-mentioned character is in its way the master, or shall we say mistress-piece of the author.
1886 June 548/1
The jeunesse d'orée—or, shall we say, the young England party?—will, no doubt, follow his example.
1914 R. Kipling Let. 15 Sept. in Ld. Birkenhead
Much water, or shall we say much blood, has flowed under the bridges since they were written.
1968 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.
1973 E.-J. Bahr x. 104
Joe Walsh, Jack's shall-we-say housemate.
1977 J. Crosby viii. 116
It's not one of ours..I read it with—shall we say, total astonishment.
2 Aug. d7/2
Her husband..is not, shall we say, totally on the bus with regard to his wife's family outing.
Idiomatic uses of I say
a. Introducing (or parenthetically following) a word, phrase, or statement which is repeated either for emphasis (and often elaborated in the repetition) or for cohesion in a complex sentence. Now somewhat archaic.
After him prophetes alle Miȝte her[e] non him maken on stalle, On stalle, I seie, ðer he er stod.
c1392 22 (MED)
Deuyde thanne the line..cleped..the midnyht line, I seye deuyde this midnyht lyne in 9 parties.
1540 Psalms cxxx. 6
My soule flyeth vnto the Lorde, before the mornyng watche (I saye) before the mornynge watche.
1563 N. Winȝet tr. St. Vincent of Lérins sig. Avi
The mony diuerse..sectis, raigeing..amangis ye professouris of Christis name: raigeing I say, nocht only aganis..the haly, catholik kirk, bot maist sauagelie aganis thame selfis.
a1661 T. Fuller
A help hath been found out against the smooting of Wheat..I say the smooting of Wheat which makes it a Negro, as Mildew makes it a Dwarfe.
1719 D. Defoe 109
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.
1756 W. Guthrie tr. Quintilian II. ix. ii. 253
It is the Madness, the Madness, I say, of the Testator, and not his injustice that we blame.
1837 Dickens lii
Although I have long been anxious to tell you in plain terms what my opinion of you is, I should have let even this opportunity..but for the unwarrantable tone you have assumed, and your insolent familiarity—I say insolent familiarity, sir.
1906 H. Belloc p. xi
They took a rotten old leaky boat (they were poor and could afford no other)—they took, I say, a rotten old leaky boat whose tiller was loose and whose sails mouldy.
1998 W. W. Johnstone xx. 172
‘Somebody stop them!’ Reverend Watkins shouted. ‘This is madness, I say, madness.’
†b. Bookkeeping. Used to introduce the immediate correction of a bookkeeper's own error as he or she writes, without the need for crossing out or effacing the erroneous text. Obsolete.
1542 J. Smythe
(Hist. MSS Comm.)
Itm. the 24 day of Jenyver anno 1541 £46 17s 6d that is ffor 1 C 25 peces, I say 125 peces of Malaga rezyns sold to him at 7s 6d the pece.
1803 P. A. Nemnich 128
Bought of M. N. I say Sold M. N.
1811 W. Jackson
If you take notice of it immediately, write after the mistake what ought to have been written, with these words, (I say,) between it and the correction.
(a) Used to draw attention to what one is about to say, or to express of surprise, delight, dismay, or indignant protest. Cf. sense Now somewhat archaic.
1613 F. Beaumont iii. sig. G3v
I say, open the doore, and turne me out those mangy companions.
1890 ‘L. Falconer’ iii. 80
I say! won't it be glorious?
1931 24 June 692
Patient (being shown into very modern consulting-room): ‘I say, I didn't come to be operated on.’
1976 3 Feb. 14/3
I say, I've been to the ballet.
(b) I say, I say, I say (also I say, I say) : used as a formula introducing a joke. Also attributive: designating a joke delivered in this manner.
1963 16 May 2
Protypical humour ‘I say, I say, I say’ ‘What is it that we take on when we take off?’
1968 6 Nov. 646/1
‘I say I say I say! My wife's gone to the West Indies!’ ‘Oh, really? Jamaica?’ ‘No, she went of her own accord.’
1969 6 Mar. 314/1
Making idiotic jokes—‘I say, I say’ jokes.
1987 14 Feb. 26/1
I say, I say, I say, did you hear the one about the dermatologist, he thought scratch-mixing was a form of eczema.
Comedy is provided by the King, who is armed with plenty of ‘I say, I say, I say’ jokes.
In phrases in which say
has a general or indefinite object: cf. sense .
a. to have (something, nothing, etc.) to say for oneself
(a) To be able to adduce (something, nothing, etc.) in defence or extenuation of one's conduct.
1533 T. More vi. p. ccxlvii
Our sauyoure Chryste to whome he resembleth hym selfe, had then hadde no more to saye for hym selfe then Tyndale & his felowes haue now to say for them self.
1577 R. Holinshed II. 1096/1
When the Earle had nothing more to saye for himselfe, the duke pronounced iudgement against him, as in cases of treason is vsed.
1655 W. Gurnall 68
The drunkard hath nothing to say for himself, when you ask him why he lives so swinishly.
1699 T. Brown 170
The Cockatrice of your bosome will have the less to say for herself another day, and that ought to be no little comfort.
1779 F. Burney
All that I can say for myself is, that I have always feared discovery [etc.].
1794 E. Burke Pref. to Brissot's Addr. Constituents in
The translator has only to say for himself, that he has found some difficulty in this version.
1835 July 309
The ancient heretics had no doubt something to say for themselves; but by a feeling like that which..appears to have animated Eusebius, their testimony has been suppressed.
1850 J. H. Newman
I. i. vii. 221
Bishop Ken..could not take the oaths, and was dispossessed; but he had nothing special to say for himself.
1902 L. W. Pitman vii. 272
Have you nothing to say for yourself? Nothing to plead in excuse?
2006 C. L. Thornton 192
Before his sentencing, the judge asked Johnston if he had anything to say for himself.
(b) To contribute a specified amount to a conversation or discussion; esp. to be habitually forthcoming or unforthcoming; to have much (or little) conversation.
1753 S. Richardson I. xxxvii. 267
He is thought to be a modern wit..and thinks he has something to say for himself when his cousin is not present.
1838 June 336
The sensible man, who has ‘nothing to say for himself’, must give way before the fool with his budget of small-talk.
1865 July 79/2
The kind of fellow that pays very well in a ball-room; he's got a lot to say for himself.
1922 F. Swinnerton i. i. 15
Few among them [sc. the guests] were what would be called men of action; for men of action, who had nothing to say for themselves or whose view of life was philistine, had no interest for Monty.
1953 B. Pym v. 52
He did not appear to have much to say for himself and his suit was of rather too bright a blue to be quite the thing.
1997 L. Hird
For a beaten-down little short-arse she certainly had a lot to say for herself.
2007 J. Collins
He was a surly boy with nothing to say for himself.
b. to have nothing to say to (also with) : to have no dealings with; (of things) to have no connection with or influence or bearing on. Also to have something to say to and variants: to have a connection with or influence or bearing on.
1603 J. Florio tr. Montaigne iii. ix. 581
Theeves and stealers (godamercie their kindnesse) have in particular nothing to say to me.
1720 D. Defoe 283
We had nothing to say to him.
1780 No. 75
Perhaps you have something to say with the gentlemen who make the news.
1844 W. G. Todd 27
All then that Rome had to say to the conversion of Ireland was simply this.
1879 J. Earle
The imitation has nothing to say to the origin of the words.
1888 G. T. Stokes
With that controversy the Irish Church had nothing to say.
1904 J. T. Fowler 21
The Churchmen of the North would have nothing to say to a Puritan and intrusive foundation.
Where economics has something to say to the issue, his suggestions are dramatically at odds with what is taught in first courses in economics.
2007 L. G. Franke 148
Color or ethnicity had nothing to say to the fact that Sanders was a skilled lawyer of high principles.
(a) to say that (also one thing, something, etc.) for : to concede (the preceding or following statement) as a point in favour of.
1607 T. Middleton sig. C4v
Fal. Would hee die so like a Polititian, & not once write his minde to me? Fur. No Ile say that for him sir: he dyed in the perfect state of memorie, made your worship his ful and whole executor.
?1656 R. Flecknoe xiii. 34
Your Cardinals (I'll say that for them) live like great Princes.
1703 C. Cibber iii. 30
I'll say that for him, the Man knows his business, his Letters always come Post paid.
1734 H. Fielding iii. xi. 54
Well, Master of mine, if you do get the Day you deserve it, I'll say that for you.
1824 Scott III. vii. 199
I will say that for the English..that they are a ceeveleesed people to gentlemen that are under a cloud.
1853 E. Bulwer-Lytton III. ix. ix. 48
No, I will say one thing for English statesmen, no man amongst them ever yet was the richer for place.
1853 E. Bulwer-Lytton III. x. xx. 202
They beat the New Yorkers in manners. I'll say that for them.
1919 ‘E. M. Delafield’ ii. xxiii. 266
She's very generous, I will say that for her.
1956 ‘B. Holiday’ & W. Dufty xix. 173
Fishman had been around before the concert was a sellout, you could say that for him.
1970 C. Egleton
I'll say one thing for thee lad—thou's not lacking in cheek.
1975 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.
2011 C. Sherborne 70
It's a well-kempt town, I'll say that for it.
(b) it says much for and variants: it is much to the credit of; it reflects well upon.
1806 C. Wilmot Let. 23 Mar. in M. Wilmot & C. Wilmot
Her Lenity makes their Lot better perhaps than that of others, but that's saying very little for the System.
1820 C. A. Eaton III. lxxv. 155
A Jew no sooner sees the error of his ways, than his debts towards his brother Jews are cancelled; so that, as soon as he becomes a Christian, he is at liberty to be a rogue. Considering this, it really says a great deal for them that there are so few converts.
1876 J. Blackwood Let. 18 May in ‘G. Eliot’
She remarked that..if people were no wiser in their speculations about more serious subjects..it did not say much for human wisdom.
1883 I. L. Bird in J. M. Gullick
I walked about eight miles, and as I was not knocked up, this says a great deal for the climate of Perak.
1945 G. Millar i. 6
There were many crazies in the organisation. It said much for the officers at the top that the crazies were permitted.
1978 29 Nov. 128/3
That says a lot for Tri-X film, which was still able to deliver a printable neg, even with 16 times too much exposure.
2006 23 Oct. 88/3
It says a lot for LaBute's skills that, when the truth finally comes out, we're poleaxed by it.
d. when all is said and done and variants: (used to indicate that one is making a generalized judgement) when everything is taken into consideration; after all, ‘at the end of the day’.
?1570 T. Ingelend sig. A.iii
Whan all is saide and all is done, Concernynge all thynges both more and lesse Yet lyke to the Schole none vnder the Sonne Bryngeth to children so much heauynesse.
1583 B. Melbancke sig. S iii
It must be as the woman will, when all is said & done.
1645 D. Cawdrey
i. i. 2
When all is said and done, it [sc. a moral law] will be still an ambiguous Terme, and liable to mistakes and quarrels.
1678 V. Alsop i. i. 82
When all is said and done, Machiavils old Rule is a Sacred Maxime with these sort of Men.
1742 Oct. 512/2
Little minds,—when all is said and done,—Judge of another's motives by their own.
1763 J. Hall-Stevenson Queries to Critical Reviewers in 39
And yet, when all is said and done, This Something's nothing but a Pun.
1842 Mar. 70/1
We may be wrong, but we believe, that, after all is said and done, the Indian corn, well cultivated, will be found to be the best crop we can make.
1881 E. Lynn Linton III. 244
He is a bit of a bumbler when all is said and done.
1928 M. Wilkinson
When all is said Bâville was responsible for a good deal of cruelty.
1937 ‘G. Orwell’ 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 v. 98
After all, Friday's pay-day when all's said and done.
1981 R. Barnard iv. 49
I know. Still, when all's said and done—.
2007 W. Cane 55
When all's said and done, saying goodbye with a kiss is really quite romantic.
e. say no more: there is no need to say anything further; now used (sometimes with conspiratorial innuendo) to indicate that one understands what someone is trying to imply.
1594 xlvii. f. 43
Well, say no more: I know thy griefe.
1698 iv. 35
Well, say no more, you shall see what I'le do if you will but begin.
1784 H. Cowley v. 85
Poor young gentleman! Say no more—say no more.
1849 E. Bulwer-Lytton Caxtons xiii. lxxiv, in June 651/2
Say no more. I understand you.
1867 Extra Christmas No., 12 Dec. 27/2
‘Say no more!’ returned Obenreizer. ‘In your place I should have done the same.’
1936 P. G. Wodehouse i. 15
‘Then say no more,’ I said. ‘It's a go.’
1969 G. Chapman et al.
I. iii. 40
Is your wife a..goer..eh? Know what I mean?..Nudge nudge. Snap snap. Grin, grin, wink, wink, say no more.
(Late City Final ed.)
I told Ross..I wanted to get into the restaurant business because I wanted a business with a cash flow... Ross said: ‘Say no more.’
2007 R. Skerritt 231
‘I don't keep condoms at my house. And I wasn't sure if you had any—’ ‘Say no more,’ he says, trying not to break into a grin.
f. that is saying (little, much, etc.) and variants: (used to qualify or intensify a preceding statement) that is to concede (little, much, etc.); that statement is striking or noteworthy (to a greater or lesser degree).
1736 H. Jacob 3
I have been employed up and down in Taverns and Bagnios..and that's saying a great deal, a great deal, Mistress Lætitia.
1779 F. Burney 5 July
I. v. 163
Dr. Johnson was as brilliant as I have ever known him,—and that's saying something.
1849 C. Brontë Let. 5 Apr. in C. Shorter
I cannot perceive that she is feebler now than she was a month ago, though that is not saying much.
1917 E. Fenwick Diary 13 Nov. in
The worst and hardest day I've had for weeks and that's saying a good deal.
1942 E. Paul vii. 59
He had with him a battery of the stuffiest lawyers in the Paris bar, and that is saying a lot.
1969 K. Giles vi. 64
The most impecunious peer in Ireland, which is saying something.
1992 4 Apr. 26/4
Thus far, only one of his efforts..has fallen foul of any censorship regulations, but that isn't saying much when the outlets for ‘alternative’ videos are as rare as Sock Shops in the Sahara.
g. to say a few words : to make a short, often extempore speech. Cf. sense .
1808 3rd Ser. Oct. 143
Mr. Clarkson might in a few pages have given a clear and luminous view of the legislative proceedings..without telling us that Mr. Fox got up, or that Mr. Pitt sat down; that one gentleman said, and another observed; that a third rose up; that a fourth desired to say a few words.
1811 J. Gamble xix. 220
Before the judge passed sentence on him, he requested leave to say a few words.
1888 Dec. 366
It is only because I am unwilling that the office and the office workers should not in some way be recognized that I consent to say a few words to-day.
When I am suddenly called upon to ‘say a few words’.
1979 P. Nihalani et al. i. 166
The Director will introduce the new staff and ask him to say a few words.
2011 D. Cheney xiv. 461
When he finished I was asked to say a few words.
(a) to say it with flowers (also diamonds, chocolates, etc.) : to express one's affection, gratitude, etc., to a person by buying flowers or another specified gift. Also occasionally figurative: to express one's feelings in a pleasant manner. Frequently in imperative.Originally in Say It With Flowers, an advertising slogan of the Society of American Florists; the slogan was apparently coined by Major Patrick P. O'Keefe, head of the O'Keefe Advertising Agency.
1918 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
(title of song)
Say it with music.
1928 C. Sandburg 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 P. G. Wodehouse vi. 114
Here's this Gedge bird shoutin' about the plumbing of this Chatty-o and not saying it with flowers, neither.
1934 27 Sept. 18/7
St. Louis baseball fans are going to say it with diamonds to Paul and Dizzy Dean.
2006 C. Morton 86
Say it with diamonds, say it with flowers, say it with cake, say it with gift-wrap, but say it with meaning.
29 Mar. 13
It's a day to say it with chocolates! Just for Mum collection. £15.
(b) With other nouns ironically substituted, especially to refer to or suggest aggressive or unchivalrous behaviour.
1922 Feb. 46/2
We feel that the future has..less of that old spirit, say it with guns, so let us teach the world to ‘Say It With Flowers’.
1923 1 Sept. 6/4
Say it with uppercuts, right hooks and shoves.
1960 G. Mikes 33
I used to say it with flowers... More gallant, no doubt... But with cognac it is so much quicker.
1974 G. Mitchell xiv. 175
‘Why did you knife your science master?’ ‘We disagreed... So I say it with knives.’
2004 J. Clarkson 109
Why have an argument? Let's say it with fists.
i. to say the word: see .
a. what do (also would) you say to : ‘would you like?’, ‘do you fancy?’ (typically as a polite offer of a specified item of food or drink). In early use in what say you to (now rare), †how say you to.In quot. with humorous inversion of subject and prepositional object.
1597 Shakespeare iii. iv. 28
But what say you to Thursday.
iv. iii. 20
How say you to a fat Tripe finely broyl'd?
a1625 J. Fletcher Bonduca ii. iii, in F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher
What say you to a leg of Beef now, sirha?
1693 T. Southerne iii. 34
What say you to a Pooile at Comet, At my House?
1752 H. Fielding III. viii. x. 203
What say you to..a Tiff of Punch, by Way of Whet?
1832 22 Oct. 188
What say you, Mr. Editor, to an Eton Newspaper, to contain all intelligence that could be necessary to Etonians?
1851 S. Warner I. xxi. 272
‘What would you say to a cup of chicken broth?’ ‘O should like it very much!’ said Ellen with new energy.
1852 H. B. Stowe II. xxiii. 77
What do you say to a game of backgammon?
1893 E. Saltus iv. 57
‘What would a Scotch and soda say to you?’ ‘That I am vile and vicious I suppose. No thanks. I think I will be getting home.’
1929 Jan. 20/2
What do you say to a beaker of ‘the boy’?
1930 A. Ransome ix. 96
‘What would you say to a bit of toffee?’ said Mrs Dixon.
1948 M. Laski vi. 84
I'm getting a bit peckish... What do you say to us going out and looking for a bite?
1997 R. Bennett
‘What would you say to a drink?’ he asks.
2011 O. Wilde vii. 49
What do you say to going fishing?
b. I wouldn't (or won't) say no to : I would like (typically as a polite request for a specified item of food or drink). Also I won't (or wouldn't) say no : used as a polite expression of thanks in accepting an offer, esp. of food or drink.
1869 M. C. Houstoun I. ix. 126
Tea! No, thank you..! But I wouldn't say ‘no’ to a nip of brandy.
1908 B. Matthews & G. H. Jessop i. 20
Well, Sir Everard, I won't say no, for I've a thirst on me I wouldn't take ten dollars for.
1939 A. Thirkell iv. 85
I wouldn't say no to toast and honey.
1980 D. T. Homel tr. L. Caron ii. 101
‘Come in, I'll give you something to drink.’ ‘I won't say no!’
2011 J. Stanton 149
‘How about a snifter to brighten up the journey?’.. ‘Wouldn't say no to a brandy.’
c. who says ——? : (with an item of food or drink as object) who would like ——? Now somewhat archaic.
1880 Aug. 818/2
‘Who says pie?’ demanded the captain, looking around on the company, most of whom were lazily basking in the sun.
1898 J. D. Brayshaw 158
‘Who says pudden? Mister What's It—a little piece?’
1905 Nov. 242
The steward said, ‘Who says tea?’ and he brought us each a cup which was very refreshing.
1910 H. G. Wells vi. 193
Sit down, everyone... Who says steak-and-kidney pie?
1948 25 Feb. 170
In the hereafter: ‘Who says tea?’
1988 D. H. Souter 123
Who says tea and who says coffee? There's no difference in the price, only the coffee cups are not filled quite so full.
(a) what do you say (if) (occasionally what say you (if) ): ‘how about?’. Typically with a first-person pronoun as the grammatical subject of the if-clause; now usually with ellipsis of if.
1844 22 Apr. 6/2
What do you say if you meet us there by eight o'clock, and we'll decide the bet.
1890 ‘R. Boldrewood’ xix. 238
What do you say if I go run-hunting with you?
1917 July 15/1
What say you if we drop into the Call and talk it over with Fitzsimmons?
1920 S. Lewis 195
What do you say we go down to Jack Elder's and have a game of five hundred?
1936 A. Rand ii. xiv. 494
Well, then, what do you say if we make a bargain?
1952 J. Clagett vii. 74
Valera, what say you we go to Cadiz?
a1961 D. Hammett First Thin Man in K. McCauley et al.
What do you say you do some detective-story reviews for my page?
1980 M. Gilbert ii. 23
What do you say we go outside and get a breath of fresh air?
2000 S. M. Warsh vii. 57
What do you say we go for some Chinese.
(b) what (also how) say : = .
1911 Feb. 189/2
What say we play house with your'n, and we take mine home to yer maw so she won't jaw?
1948 E. Waugh
How say I give you a ring next week sometime?
1972 ‘B. Graeme’ iii. 32
What say we have coffee at home for once?
2004 S. Hall 71
What say I take you for a jar and we discuss this thing further along in comfort.
P9. Law. how (also what) say you : (used to address a jury or foreman) ‘what is the verdict?’ ‘how do you find?’; (also used to address a defendant) ‘how do you plead?’Compare earlierwhat say you to, how say you to in non-legal contexts: see .
How say you, is the prisoner at the Bar guilty of the Treason whereof he stands indicted?
You of the Jury, look upon the Prisoner; how say you?
1760 A. Murphy i. 14
How say ye?—Gentlemen of the jury?
1810 Aug. 125/1
Clerk. What say you?.. Foreman. William Penn is guilty.
1893 27 Aug. 9/3
The officer of the court put the usual question, ‘How say you?’
1968 C. E. Rosenberg viii. 223
What say you? Is the defendant guilty or not guilty?
1991 M. Wilcox i. ii. 5
How say you Antony Pringle, are you guilty or not guilty?
2009 K. Flynn
On the case of..the first-degree murder of Michael Deloge, how say you?
In phrases used conversationally as stock replies, typically to express agreement or request clarification.
a. you don't say so
. Now more commonly (orig. U.S.
) you don't say
(a) Used to express surprise, doubt, or disbelief in response to a statement or comment.
1696 T. Southerne iii. iii. 43
Marry'd! you don't say so I hope!
1763 I. Bickerstaff iii. iii. 60
Hodge. Her aunt has catch'd, she, and the gentleman above stairs, and over-heard all their love discourse. Roff. You don't say so.
1779 F. Burney Let. Feb. in
No?—you don't say so?
1842 S. Kettell 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 xvi
‘You do not say so!’ cry I, in some astonishment.
1899 R. Whiteing xiv. 128
You don't say so; why, I'm going to a meeting at his mother's house.
1912 C. E. Mulford & J. W. Clay iv. 84
‘An' I could never see how he done it.’ ‘You—don't—say,’ was Buck's thoughtful comment.
a1978 S. T. Warner
‘Never! You don't say so!’ exclaimed Mrs Honeyball, not very certain what in fact Mrs Soper implied, but sure it was something one wouldn't want to believe about a friend.
1979 R. Jeffries xiii. 83
‘Heard the latest, Bert?.. That young filly was murdered.’ ‘You don't say, sir!’
2003 J. Murray vi. 122
You don't say? Well well.
(b) Used ironically or sarcastically to suggest that someone is stating the obvious.
1909 4 Mar. 276/2
Hubert looked uneasy, though he forced the answer, ‘Somebody has to pick it up; it never does so itself’. ‘You don't say!’ exclaimed Wallace.
1932 L. Golding i. x. 171
‘Father, indeed!.. As much 'is father as I'm Queen Alexandra!’ ‘You don't say!’ murmured Mr. Briggs.
1943 S. Jameson lxxviii. 463
‘You don't say so!’ Labenne said ironically.
1962 N. Marsh ii. 67
‘The Scorpion's not here, George.’ ‘You don't say,’ Mr. Copper bitterly rejoined.
2011 14 Nov. 15/4
Ugly..men have a tough time of it on dating websites. You don't say.
b. if you say so: used to express acceptance of, agreement with, or consent to an assertion, order, etc., typically with a grudging or placatory tone.
1805 E. Inchbald ii. ii. 34
‘Without her own express desire, I cannot give up her.’ ‘Well, if you say so.’
1884 22 Nov. 64/1
‘Don't you believe me?’ I continued, after a pause. ‘Oh yes,’ she answered lightly, ‘if you say so.’
1947 C. Williams 121
At last the Duke said, shrugging his shoulders, ‘Well, if you say so.’
1956 H. Kurnitz iii. 30
‘Okay. We've got a deal.’.. ‘If you say so, George. Anything you say.’
1976 J. Bingham vii. 101
‘You can..watch who goes in, can't you?’ ‘If you say so.’ ‘I do say so.’
2001 C. Glazebrook 235
‘This is it, Dean. A true love job,’ I assure him. ‘Wicked, innit?’ ‘If you say so.’
c. you said it
(also you've said it
(a) Used to assent to a suggestion or assertion made by someone about him or herself which may have been considered rude or inappropriate if made by oneself.
1833 W. Carleton 2nd Ser. III. 302
‘Phelim,’ said the master, ‘I'll invert you as a scarecrow for dunces...’ ‘But how will you manage that ?’ said Phelim... ‘I'll find a way to manage it,’ said the master. ‘To put my head down an' my heels up, is id?’ inquired Phelim. ‘You've said it, my worthy,’ returned his teacher.
1891 18 July
‘Why don't you spit it out, Samanthy? An eejiot. Is that it?’ ‘You've said it.’ ‘What's the gal done now?’
1959 S. Delaney
Geof: She likes to make an effect. Jo: Like me? Geof: You said it.
1991 D. Lucie Fashion
ii. iii, in 79
Eric I'm not principled enough. Stuart You said it.
2004 J. Harvey ix. 270
‘I'm a bloke: remember? I keep my brains in my dick.’ ‘You said it.’
(b) orig. U.S. Used to express strong agreement with what someone has said; ‘you are quite right’, ‘I agree with you entirely’.
1911 11 Apr. 21/2
‘They'll be sore when they wake up. Dirty shame!’ ‘You said it.’
1929 E. Linklater ii. 34
‘Peace is too exciting..’ said Joan. ‘You've said it, Miss Benbow.’
1947 ‘N. Blake’ i. 9
‘What do they find?’ ‘Chay-oh [i.e. chaos],’ replied Nigel... ‘You said it.’
1970 N. Streatfeild vii. 52
‘It is a big place, there must be a lot of servants needed.’.. ‘You've said it.’
1996 A. Ghosh
‘I take it you don't go along with this,’ said Antar. ‘You said it, Ant. This is one story I just don't buy.’
2005 A. Ohlin x. 133
‘It's a criminal overallocation of valuable resources.’ ‘You said it, man.’
(a) U.S. colloquial. says which? : used to request the repetition or clarification of a statement which the speaker has failed to hear or comprehend. Now rare.
1916 20 May 32/3
‘Are you going to bet on him?’ ‘Says which?’
1937 19 June 2/3
‘Says which?’ asked the perplexed Sancho Panza.
1947 14 Aug. 9
‘For cotton or for silk?’ inquired the druggist. ‘Says which,’ asked the little pickaninny. ‘What does she want it for?’
(b) U.S. colloquial. say what? : used to request the repetition or clarification of a statement, either because the speaker failed to hear or comprehend, or as an expression of disbelief or surprise; ‘what are you saying?’
1977 Autumn 4/2
‘And you better get off him,’ Emma shouted. ‘Say what?’ asked the man.
1992 V. Vinge i. ix. 97
‘Um.’ Say what? ‘That's wonderful.’
2003 G. Saunders in Sept. 192
Say what? said Uncle Matt... The dog has had trouble in his life?
. I'll say
, I'd say
: used to express (usually emphatic) agreement.
(a) With clause as object.
1919 17 Apr. 4/7
‘Smith is an argumentative cuss, isn't he?,’ said Brown. ‘I'll say he is,’ agreed Jones.
1945 P. Cheyney
I'll say she does.
1972 G. Durrell 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?’
2001 J. O. Patterson ix. 63
Jeff said, ‘I hear Frank got a strapping when he got home.’ ‘I'll say he did,’ said Don.
2011 E. Moon xviii. 203
‘She's mostly angry and frustrated, I'd say.’ ‘I'd say she is,’ Arian said.
(b) In I'll say so, I'd say so.
1917 27 Nov. 1/4
Lucky? I'll say so. All that long wait has turned into mighty good fortune, I think.
1929 H. V. Morton ii. 46
‘You have seen the Crown Jewels in London?’ ‘I'll say so! They're an eyeful.’
1992 C. Toibin
‘You'll probably come back with your father.’ ‘I'd say so, all right.’
(c) Without object or adverbial complement.
1924 5 276
Say: I'd ——, I'll —— (both approv.).
1943 N. Marsh vi. 99
‘Does he want to keep him quiet?’.. ‘I'll say! Too right he wants to keep him quiet.’
1979 ‘J. le Carré’
‘He was a declining asset, as all ex-agents are.’.. ‘I'll say,’ said Strickland sotto voce.
2001 J. Fforde iv. 37
‘A bit childish, isn't it?’ ‘I'd say,’ replied Tamworth.
2001 J. Harvey
Jez: As Suze is with child, flying is out of the question. Suze: I'll say.
f. I was (also am) just (also only) saying : used to indicate that a previous statement or assertion is not intended to be combative or provoking, or should not be taken too personally or seriously. Also simply just saying, only saying.
[Compare German ich sag' ja nur (late 19th cent. or earlier).]
1925 S. O'Casey Juno & Paycock iii, in 91
Sure, I know—I was only sayin'.
1943 I. Wolfert ix. 188
I'm not knocking. I'm just saying.
1968 R. Roberts v. 58
I was jus' sayin'. No offence!
1997 K. O'Riordan i. 8
‘What's that got to do with anything?’ ‘I'm only saying.’
30 June c1
It'd be a hard pill for Boehner to swallow... Just sayin'.
g. slang (orig. U.S.). says you: used to express disagreement with or disbelief in a previous speaker's remark. Also says who? : used to challenge a remark; ‘who says so?’. Also (as a retort to either of these remarks) says me, says I. Cf. sense .Also sez who?, sez me, etc.: see
1927 P. Dunning & G. Abbott ii. 108
Steve's a fine fellow and he's just out for some innocent fun—Says you—Says I—.
1931 M. E. Gilman x. 143
We can park a car there and spoon—says who!
1938 C. B. Kelland vii. 86
‘Miss Higg, you are guilty of reprehensible waste.’ ‘Says Who?’ ‘Says me.’
1951 P. G. Wodehouse iv. 53
Says you, if I may use a homely phrase indicating doubt and uncertainty.
1971 June 81/2
‘I just asked.’ ‘Had no business asking.’ ‘Says who?’ ‘Me, stupid!’
1981 M. C. Smith iii. iii. 328
‘He's a murderer.’ ‘Says you.’
2001 M. Ravenhill ii. vi. 58
Charlie. I want to have kids. Tina. Don't. Charlie. Be great, couple of kids. Tina. Says you.
2007 J. Armstrong et al. Episode 3. 86
Oh yes, says who? Oh, the Prime Minister told you that? Well, get you.
h. colloquial (orig. U.S.). you can say that again: used to express emphatic agreement. With reference to reported speech or writing also with the grammatical subject in the third person.
1932 30 July 11
‘Those girls we met across the lake are worth a crack on the head...’ ‘You can say that again.’
1950 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.
1967 R. Dahl xvii. 67
‘Mrs. Gloop doesn't think it's at all funny!’ ‘You can say that again!’ said Mrs. Gloop.
1973 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.
1981 R. Barnard vii. 70
‘These teenagers are all alike, aren't they?’ ‘You can say that again,’ snarled Lill.
2002 J. McGahern
‘People don't always get what they're entitled to.’ ‘You can say that again,’ he said with relish.
i. orig. and chiefly U.S. say again: (originally and chiefly in radio communication) used to request the repetition or clarification of a statement.
If the R/T transmission is a bit distorted, ‘Say again’ is a set expression.
1972 Mar. 19/2
November 37 Tango, this is Denver Center, say again.
1999 M. Bradford xxxiv. 290
‘She's the county's next Delight Diviner.’ ‘Say again?’
2011 J. A. McCartin i. 16
‘Say again,’ Rock responded. ‘There's been a collision,’ said the pilot.
P11. In concessive clauses, as having said that, that said, that being said: even though this is the case; even so; nevertheless.
1820 II. 315/2
But, having said that, he must state that it was one additional evil to those which they had already suffered in the course of this investigation.
1908 1 Aug.
The story of Sir James Douglas might have been told in smaller compass... That being said, James Douglas certainly deserved a place among the makers of Canada.
1923 14 Aug. 5/2
That said, there is little to criticize in the performance last night.
1986 C. Snyder 222
We have little choice; today's technology provides no alternative. That being said, we will press for radical reductions in the number and power of strategic and intermediate-range nuclear arms.
1992 Nov. 62/2
That said, the new pic does have a dotty Capraesque charm.
2006 Nov. 45/3
I don't care what other people think. Having said that, I won't be celebrating getting eye bags—I'll be down at the doctors getting them sorted out!
C1. In adjectives formed from the verb with an indefinite pronoun as object, as say-anything, say-nothing, etc., with the sense ‘that says —; characterized by saying —’.
1838 E. Bulwer-Lytton II. v. v. 144
She herself, with her quiet, say-nothing-manner, slips through all my careless questionings.
1853 G. P. R. James I. ix. 189
One of your discreet, see-everything, say-nothing serving-men.
1901 59 353/1
He is a say-nothing kind of a young man... He looks like a dullard to me.
1994 Nov. 72/2
Women have a certain arrogance about the say-anything brand of emotional honesty they have with each other.
2004 W. R. Whitaker et al. xiii. 356
An editor is likely to axe a say-nothing sentence like ‘I'm very proud of my company's success.’
2 Apr. (Features) 9
A simpering, say-anything, dough-faced, preposterous waddling idiot.
† say-grace n. depreciative Obsolete a clergyman who is outwardly pious (e.g. in saying grace) but in fact insincere or venal.Originally in the name of, and subsequently with reference or allusion to, the character of Mr. Saygrace, a chaplain, in Congreve's Double Dealer (see quot. ); cf.
1694 W. Congreve v. i. 71
But first I must instruct my little Levite, there is no Plot, publick or private, that can expect to prosper without one of 'em have a finger in't, he promised me to be within at this hour,—Mr. Saygrace, Mr. Saygrace.
1699 J. Oldmixon iii. 119
The Testimonys, the Smirks, the Spintexts, the Say-graces, &c. are of a quite different nature, and they are not in the least mismarkt.
1788 V. Knox I. iii. ii. 243
The race of formal spintexts and solemn say-graces is nearly extinct.
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This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, June 2015).
In this entry:
- as they say
- as who saith
- better to say
- do as I say
- do what I say
- easier (also quicker, sooner) said than done
- have nothing to say to (also with), to
- have (something, nothing, etc.) to say for oneself, to
- have something to say to, to
- having said that
- how (also what) say you
- how say you to
- I'd say
- I'd say so
- if you say so
- I'll say
- I'll say so
- I say
- I say, I say
- I say, I say, I say
- it says
- it says much for
- I was (also am) just (also only) saying
- I won't (or wouldn't) say no
- I wouldn't (or won't) say no to
- just saying
- let us say
- let us say
- no sooner said than done
- not to say
- only saying
- sad to say
- say a few words, to
- say again
- say and do not
- say away, to
- say before, to
- say better, to
- say forth, to
- say it with flowers (also diamonds, chocolates, etc.), to
- say no more
- say nothing of, to
- say one thing and do another
- say on, to
- say out, to
- say over, to
- says I
- says me
- says which?
- says who?
- says you
- say that (also one thing, something, etc.) for, to
- say (the) truth, to
- say, to
- say well (also evil, ill, etc.) of (also †by), to
- say well and do well
- say what?
- shall I say
- shall we say
- shame to say
- shortly to say
- soothly to say
- sooth to say
- so to say
- strange to say
- that being said
- that is at say
- that is saying (little, much, etc.)
- that is to say
- that said
- this is to say
- though I say it myself
- though I say it that should not
- truth to say
- what (also how) say
- what do (also would) you say to
- what do you say (if)
- what say you (if)
- what say you to
- when all is said and done
- which is to say
- who says ——?
- you can say that again
- you don't say
- you don't say so
- you said it
- you've said it
In other dictionaries:
- My entries(1)
- saxophone, v.1927
- saxotromba, n.1856
- saxous, adj.1657
- saxter aithe, n.1602
- saxum, n.1706
- say, n.1 and adj.1286–9
- say, n.2?a1325
- say, n.31350
- say, n.41486
- say, v.1 and int.eOE
- say, v.2c1330
- saya, n.1811
- sayable, adj. and n.1674
- say-away, n.1813
- Saybolt, n. and adj.1880
- sayee, n.a1902
- sayer, n.11340
- sayer, n.21422
- sayer, n.31751
- sayette, n.1770
- say-hand, n.1712
- saying, n.11340
- saying, n.21512
- saying-again, n.a1500
- say master, n.1548
- sayment, n.a1500
- say-nay, n.1657
- saynite, n.1854
- sayon, n.1802
- sayonara, v.1883
- sayonara, int., n., ...1863
- say-piece, n.1535
- Say's Law, n.1878
- say-so, n.1637
- say-well, n.c1390
- sayyid, n. and adj.1625
- saz, n.1870
- saza, n.1950
- Sazarac, n.1941
- Sb, n.1788