We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out moreJump to Main NavigationJump to Content
  • Text size: A
  • A

say, v.1 and int.

Inflections:   Present indicative: 2nd singular (archaic) sayest
Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˈseɪᵻst/
U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˈseɪəst/
, sayst ; 3rd singular says , (archaic) saith ; past indicative: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd singular and plural said ; 2nd singular (archaic) saidest
Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˈsɛdᵻst/
U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˈsɛdəst/
, saidst ; past participle: said ;
Forms:  1. Present stem. a. Infinitive (and 1st singular indicative, subjunctive, and participle).

α. early Old English saecgan (in prefixed forms), Old English saecca (Northumbrian, in prefixed forms), Old English sæcca (Northumbrian), Old English sæccgan (rare), Old English sæcgan, Old English sæcgean, Old English sægcan, Old English sægcga (Northumbrian), Old English sæggan (rare), Old English seccan (rare), Old English seccgan, Old English secgan, Old English sęcgan (Mercian), Old English secgcan, Old English secgean, Old English secggan, Old English secggean, Old English segcan (rare), Old English segcgan (rare), Old English seggan, late Old English segcean, early Middle English sæcge, early Middle English sægge, early Middle English secge, early Middle English secȝe, early Middle English sege, early Middle English segge, early Middle English seggenn ( Ormulum), early Middle English seuge, early Middle English seugge, early Middle English sucge, early Middle English suget (with personal pronoun affixed), early Middle English svgge, Middle English ȝigge (south-eastern, transmission error), Middle English sedge, Middle English seygge, Middle English sig, Middle English sige, Middle English sigge, Middle English suge, Middle English sugge, Middle English sygge, Middle English zigge (south-eastern), Middle English zygge (south-eastern), 1500s zedge (south-western). In Middle English chiefly southern and south-west midlands

OE   Beowulf (2008) 880   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 (Corpus Cambr.) (1900) iv. viii. 272   Ic wæs sprecende & sæcgende in þære æftran bec þisses weorces.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 9272   & lokeþþ wel þatt ȝure nan. Ne segge þuss wiþþ worde.
a1200   MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 93   He..us bidded alle þerto þus seggende, Venite.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 1491   Ich þe Gornoille seuge.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 1488   Þis ich sucge [c1300 Otho segge] þe to seoðe.
c1275   Kentish Serm. in J. Hall Select. Early Middle Eng. (1920) I. 216   We mowe sigge þet stor signefieth þe herte.
?a1300  (a1250)    Harrowing of Hell (Digby) (1907) 171   Nou i sege hit þe.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 134   Hi nolleþ yleue god wyþ-oute guod wed, þet is to ziggene, bote yef hi y-zy kuik scele.
c1400  (?a1387)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Huntington HM 137) (1873) C. xiii. l. 30   For to seggen as thei seen.
a1450   Seven Sages (Cambr. Dd.1.17) (1845) l. 1708   To loke what he wolde sygge.
?1553   Respublica (1952) v. vii. 54   Iche maie zedge to yowe, Isfearde pulling owte my throte.

β. (a) Old English sæge (1st singular indicative, rare), Old English sæge (subjunctive singular, rare), Old English sægende (participle, rare), Old English saego (Northumbrian, 1st singular indicative), Old English sægo (Northumbrian, 1st singular indicative), Old English saga (1st singular indicative, rare), Old English sage (1st singular indicative, rare), Old English sęgo (Northumbrian, 1st singular indicative), late Old English sægen, late Old English sege (Kentish, subjunctive singular), late Old English sege (1st singular indicative), late Old English segende (Kentish, participle), late Old English seige (Kentish, 1st singular indicative), early Middle English sæge, early Middle English sæin, early Middle English sege, early Middle English seiȝc (plural subjunctive, transmission error), early Middle English seige, Middle English sa, Middle English saiȝe, Middle English sayȝe, Middle English sayhyng (participle), Middle English se, Middle English seey, Middle English seeyne, Middle English seȝe, Middle English seȝȝe, Middle English seiȝ, Middle English seiȝe, Middle English seih, Middle English sein, Middle English seine, Middle English seyȝ, Middle English seyȝe, Middle English seygh, Middle English seyȝn, Middle English seyn, Middle English seynt (transmission error), Middle English seyy, Middle English sy (perhaps transmission error), Middle English (1500s–1600s archaic) sayn, Middle English (1500s–1600s archaic) sayne, Middle English (1500s–1700s archaic) saine, Middle English (1500s–1800s archaic) sain, Middle English–1500s sei, Middle English–1500s seie, Middle English–1500s seye, Middle English–1500s seyne, Middle English–1500s (1900s– regional) sey, Middle English–1600s sai, Middle English–1600s saie, Middle English–1600s saye, Middle English– say, late Middle English seme (transmission error), 1500s sayen (archaic), 1500s sene (archaic), 1600s zay (south-western); English regional 1700s sey (Lancashire), 1700s– zay (south-western), 1800s sayen (south-western), 1800s zey (south-western), 1800s– saay (Lincolnshire); Scottish pre-1700 sa, pre-1700 sae, pre-1700 sai, pre-1700 saine (poetic), pre-1700 sane (poetic), pre-1700 saye, pre-1700 sayn (poetic), pre-1700 sayne (poetic), pre-1700 seay, pre-1700 sene (poetic), pre-1700 seye, pre-1700 1700s– say, pre-1700 1900s– sey; (b) With personal pronoun affixed early Middle English sawe, early Middle English sayt; Scottish (with it) pre-1700 said, pre-1700 saide, pre-1700 sayd.

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.
OE   Hymns (Julius A.vi) cxxxi. 3 in H. Gneuss Hymnar u. Hymnen im englischen Mittelalter (1968) 409   Semper dicentes : æfre sægende.
lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough interpolation) anno 1070   Þa herdon þa munecas of Burh sægen þet heora agene menn wolden hergon þone mynstre.
?a1160   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1137   Suilc & mare þanne we cunnen sæin.
a1200   MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 119   Þe fewe word þe we on ure bede seien.
a1275  (?c1200)    Prov. Alfred (Trin. Cambr.) (1955) 116   Siker ich it te saiȝe.
a1325  (?a1300)    in G. H. McKnight Middle Eng. Humorous Tales (1913) 21   Y may say, hay wayleuay!
a1375  (c1350)    William of Palerne (1867) l. 60   Forto seiȝ al þe soþe.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 12813   Quat þan sal we sai [Fairf. sayne, Trin. Cambr. sey] to þaim?
a1400  (?a1325)    Medit. on Supper of our Lord (Harl.) (1875) 228   He..cumforted hem ful feyre, seyyng, ‘Ȝyt a whyle y am with ȝow now.’
c1430   Compleynt in J. Schick Lydgate's Temple of Glas (1891) App. 60   And of on thyng, soth for to seyne, I haue gret mater to compleyne.
?c1450   tr. Bk. Knight of La Tour Landry (1906) 153   That is to sein, sen God was borne of the holy mayden Marie.
c1480  (a1400)    St. Ninian 276 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) II. 312   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 (1964) 7   I dare well sayen.
1621   R. Montagu Diatribæ Hist. Tithes 118   To say bo to a battledore.
a1643   W. Cartwright Ordinary (1651) 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   A. 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 (1994) 494   It goes without saying that luxuries such as meat..will soon be unobtainable.
2000   N. Griffiths Grits (2001) 294   Shite, a sey.

b. 2nd singular indicative.

α. (a) early Old English sagas (Mercian, in prefixed forms), Old English sægast (rare), Old English sæges (Northumbrian), Old English sægest, Old English sægst, Old English sagast, Old English segest, Old English segs (before personal pronoun, rare), Old English segst, late Old English sagest, early Middle English sæȝest, early Middle English scist (transmission error), early Middle English seȝȝst ( Ormulum), early Middle English seȝst, Middle English sais (chiefly northern), Middle English saiyst, Middle English sayes (chiefly northern and north midlands), Middle English saysse (northern), Middle English saytȝ (north-west midlands), Middle English seiest, Middle English seiist, Middle English seis (chiefly northern and north midlands), Middle English seith, Middle English seiyst, Middle English sest, Middle English seyes, Middle English seyst, Middle English seyste, Middle English seyth, Middle English zayst (south-eastern), Middle English (chiefly northern and north midlands) 1800s says, Middle English–1500s sayste, Middle English–1500s seist, Middle English–1500s seiste, Middle English–1600s saiest, Middle English–1600s saist, Middle English– sayest (now archaic), Middle English– sayst (now archaic), 1500s–1800s say'st, 1600s zest (south-western), 1700s seys (English regional (Lancashire)); also Scottish pre-1700 sais, pre-1700 sayis, pre-1700 says, pre-1700 seis; (b) With personal pronoun affixed Middle English saiste (in a late copy), Middle English saistou, Middle English saistow, Middle English saystowe, Middle English saystu, Middle English seiste, Middle English seistou, Middle English seistow, Middle English seistu, Middle English seyste, Middle English seysthow, Middle English seystow, Middle English seystu.

OE   Vercelli Homilies (1992) i. 26   Soð þu segest, cining ic eom.
OE   Blickling Homilies 179   On þone þu leogende sagast þæt þu sie þæt he is.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 5188   Ȝiff þu seȝȝst. tatt tu lufesst godd.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 39   Þenne þu seist Dimitte nobis debita nostra.
c1275  (?c1250)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) 1075   Seistu [a1300 Jesus Oxf. seystu] þis for mine shome.
c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 10792   ‘Wat seiste,’ quaþ þis gode erl.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) 965   Adam, now wel sais þou.
1445   tr. Claudian's De Consulatu Stilichonis in Anglia (1905) 28 269   Thou seith of hem evir wele.
a1500  (?c1450)    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   J. Milton Paradise Lost v. 818   Unjust thou saist Flatly unjust.
a1771   T. Gray Agrippina in Poems (1775) 131   Say'st thou I must be cautious.
1831   W. 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. early Middle English segges, early Middle English seggesst ( Ormulum), Middle English seggeȝ, Middle English seggist, Middle English siggest; N.E.D. (1910) also records a form late Middle English seggest.

c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 1512   & seggesst swillc & swillc wass þu.
a1250  (?c1200)    Hali Meiðhad (Titus) (1940) 387   Nu þu hauest iseid tus & þuncheð þat tu segges soð.
c1390  (?c1350)    Joseph of Arimathie (1871) 352   Þat al þi reume schal seo þat þou wrong siggest.
c1400  (?c1380)    Cleanness (1920) l. 621   Fare forthe..and fech as þou seggez.
c1450   Jack Upland's Rejoinder (Digby) l. 193 in P. L. Heyworth Jack Upland (1968) 107   Þe secte þat þou seggist of.

c. 3rd singular indicative.

α. early Old English seged (Mercian, transmission error), Old English sæg (transmission error), Old English saeges (Northumbrian), Old English sæges (Northumbrian), Old English saegeð (Northumbrian), Old English sægeþ, Old English sægeð, Old English sægþ, Old English sægð, Old English sægyð (rare), Old English sæig (probably transmission error), Old English sæigð, Old English sagaþ, Old English sagað, Old English segd (transmission error), Old English segeþ, Old English segeð, Old English segþ, Old English segð, Old English segyð (rare), Old English seigð, Old English–early Middle English sæið, Old English–early Middle English seið, late Old English sagð, late Old English segh (transmission error), late Old English siegð (Kentish), late Old English–Middle English seiþ, early Middle English reiȝð (transmission error), early Middle English sæȝeð, early Middle English sæȝð, early Middle English sæiþ, early Middle English sæiðe, early Middle English sæð, early Middle English saȝð, early Middle English saið, early Middle English sayd, early Middle English sed, early Middle English seȝd, early Middle English seȝeð, early Middle English seȝȝþ ( Ormulum), early Middle English seȝh, early Middle English seȝþ, early Middle English seȝð, early Middle English sehȝ, early Middle English sehð, early Middle English seid, early Middle English seiet, early Middle English seieð, early Middle English seiȝeð, early Middle English seiȝþ, early Middle English seiðe, early Middle English seiz, early Middle English seyd, early Middle English seyð, early Middle English syeð, Middle English saise, Middle English sait, Middle English saiþ, Middle English saiþe, Middle English saitȝ, Middle English saiy (north-east midlands), Middle English saiyth, Middle English sas, Middle English satȝ (north-west midlands), Middle English sathe, Middle English sayeȝ (north-west midlands), Middle English sayȝ (north-west midlands), Middle English sayȝt, Middle English sayȝth, Middle English sayis (chiefly northern), Middle English sayse, Middle English sayt, Middle English sayþ, Middle English sayþe, Middle English saytȝ (north-west midlands), Middle English saytz, Middle English sayyth, Middle English sees, Middle English seȝeþ, Middle English seȝth, Middle English seied, Middle English seies, Middle English seieþ, Middle English seieth, Middle English seiȝ (north-east midlands), Middle English seis, Middle English seist (perhaps transmission error), Middle English seit, Middle English seiþe, Middle English seitȝ, Middle English seithe, Middle English seiy (north-east midlands), Middle English seiyth, Middle English seþ, Middle English setȝ, Middle English seth, Middle English sethe, Middle English setth, Middle English seyce, Middle English seyeht, Middle English seyes, Middle English seyet, Middle English seyeþ, Middle English seyethe, Middle English seyȝ (north-east midlands), Middle English seyȝeth, Middle English seyght, Middle English seyȝt, Middle English seyȝth, Middle English seyht, Middle English seyis, Middle English seyith, Middle English seyithe, Middle English seyse, Middle English seysse, Middle English seyt, Middle English seyþ, Middle English seyþe, Middle English seytȝ, Middle English seythe, Middle English seytht, Middle English seyyth, Middle English seyz, Middle English zaiþ (south-eastern), Middle English zayt (south-eastern), Middle English zayþ (south-eastern), Middle English–1500s saiethe, Middle English–1500s sais, Middle English–1500s seith, Middle English–1500s seyeth, Middle English–1500s seys, Middle English–1500s seyth, Middle English–1600s saies, Middle English–1600s saieth, Middle English–1600s saithe, Middle English–1600s sayes, Middle English–1600s sayethe, Middle English–1600s sayth, Middle English–1600s saythe, Middle English– saith (now archaic), Middle English– sayeth (now archaic), Middle English– says; English regional 1700s seyth, 1800s sayth, 1800s– ses, 1800s– sez, 1800s– zays (south-western); Scottish pre-1700 saies, pre-1700 saiis, pre-1700 sayes, pre-1700 sayeth, pre-1700 sayis, pre-1700 sayith, pre-1700 seis, pre-1700 seys, pre-1700 1700s– says, pre-1700 1900s– sais, 1900s– sehs; also Irish English (northern) 1800s– sez, 1900s– siz.

OE   Blickling Homilies 27   Her sagaþ Matheus se godspellere.
OE   Blickling Homilies 55   Her segþ hu se æþela lareow wæs sprecende.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 10306   He seȝȝþ uss þatt [etc.].
a1225  (?OE)    MS Vesp. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 239   Þan seied ham god..ȝe seneȝeden an ȝeur ecenesse.
c1330  (?a1300)    Sir Tristrem (1886) l. 1545   He seyt he haþ don þis.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 8282   Als sais [Gött. sas, Fairf. saise, Trin. Cambr. seiþ] þe stori.
a1450  (a1338)    R. Mannyng Chron. (Lamb.) (1887) i. 14779   But þat seynt Bede of þem alle seys, Elles schulde non haue knowe what weys.
▸ ?a1513   W. Dunbar Flyting in Poems (1998) I. 204   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 (1879) 35   He sayeth that [etc.].
a1631   J. Donne Poems (1650) 9   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 (new ed.) To Rdr. p. x   Otto con tell th' tele, and seyth 'Rimes be rot, titely.
1819   W. 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. Old English sæcgað (Northumbrian, rare), Old English sæcgð (in prefixed forms, rare), Old English secgþ (rare), Old English secgð (rare), late Old English secgeð, late Old English seggað, late Old English–early Middle English seggeð, late Old English–Middle English seggeþ, early Middle English suggeþ, early Middle English suggeð, Middle English segges, Middle English sigges, Middle English siggeþ.

OE   Ælfric Homily (Cambr. Ii.4.6) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1967) I. 483   Swa swa seo boc us secgð.
lOE   Wulfstan Baptism (Corpus Cambr. 302) (1957) 172   Swa hwæt swa him man to heora agenre ðearfe secgeð.
?a1200  (?OE)    Peri Didaxeon (1896) 29   Ypocras seggeþ, þæt seo untrunyss cymþ of þringum [read þrim þingum].
a1225  (c1200)    Vices & Virtues (1888) 35   Ðe hali apostel..seggeð þat..karitas is heiȝest.
c1300  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Otho) (1963) 5237   Þe king þe greteþ Bas[i]an an seggeþ mid sore þat he nele na more.
c1390  (?c1350)    Joseph of Arimathie (1871) l. 209   Þenne spekes a vois and on heiȝ sigges.
a1450   York Plays (1885) 323   Agayne Sir Cesar hym selfe he segges and saies.

d. Plural indicative.

α. early Old English secgad (Mercian, transmission error), Old English sæcgas (Northumbrian), Old English sæcgaþ, Old English sæcgeað, Old English sægcas (Northumbrian), Old English sægcaþ (Mercian), Old English sægces (Northumbrian), Old English seccað (rare), Old English secgat (perhaps transmission error), Old English secgað, Old English secgcaþ, Old English secgce (before personal pronoun), Old English secgeaþ, Old English secgeað, Old English secggeað, Old English segcaþ, Old English segcgað, Old English seggaþ, Old English segge (before personal pronoun), Old English seicgaþ, Old English–early Middle English sæcgað, Old English–early Middle English secgaþ, Old English–early Middle English secge (before personal pronoun), Old English–early Middle English seggað, late Old English secgeð, late Old English–early Middle English seggeð, early Middle English sæcgæþ, early Middle English sæcgæð, early Middle English sæcge (before personal pronoun), early Middle English sæggæð, early Middle English sæggeð, early Middle English secgæð, early Middle English segeþ, early Middle English segeð, early Middle English segez, early Middle English segged, early Middle English seggenn ( Ormulum), early Middle English seggez, early Middle English siggeð, early Middle English siggit, early Middle English siggitȝ, early Middle English sigit, early Middle English sugeð, early Middle English suggeð, Middle English sege, Middle English segen, Middle English segge, Middle English seggen, Middle English segget, Middle English seggeþ, Middle English seggeth, Middle English seggyth, Middle English segyth, Middle English sigge, Middle English siggen, Middle English siggeþ, Middle English suggen, Middle English suggeþ, Middle English sygge, Middle English syggen, Middle English syggeþ, Middle English syggyþ, Middle English ziggeþ (south-eastern), Middle English zyggeþ (south-eastern).

OE   Blickling Homilies 125   Þa men secgaþ.
OE   Paris Psalter (1932) xciii. 4   Hi oftust sprecað, unnyt sæcgeað and..wyrceað unriht.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Vesp. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 237   Of þe folce we siggeð þat hit cumþ fastlice fram middenardes anginn.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 12114   Summe bokes suggeð [c1300 Otho seggeþ] to iwisse þat [etc.].
c1400  (c1378)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Laud 581) (1869) B. xi. l. 425   Ȝe seggen soth.
?a1425  (?a1350)    T. Castleford Chron. (1940) 24779   Þai sai and sege [rhyme priuilege].
a1500  (?a1400)    Firumbras (1935) 315   Ȝe segge vylonye.
a1525   Eng. Conquest Ireland (Trin. Dublin) (1896) 62   Some syggen [a1500 Rawl. sayne] that the kynge lete to-draw the traytours.

β. Old English saegas (Northumbrian), Old English sægas (Northumbrian, in prefixed forms), Old English sægað (perhaps transmission error), late Old English seagað (Kentish), late Old English segaþ, late Old English segeþ (Kentish), early Middle English saið, early Middle English seȝað, early Middle English seigen, early Middle English seiȝeð, Middle English sain, Middle English sais, Middle English saise, Middle English saiþ, Middle English saith, Middle English saiþe, Middle English sane, Middle English sas, Middle English sayeþ, Middle English sayethe, Middle English sayȝen, Middle English sayis, Middle English sayth, Middle English se, Middle English sei, Middle English seieþ, Middle English seiȝe, Middle English sein, Middle English seine, Middle English seis, Middle English seise, Middle English seiþ, Middle English seith, Middle English seye, Middle English seyeþ, Middle English seyeth, Middle English seyȝ (north-east midlands), Middle English seyin, Middle English seyne, Middle English seys, Middle English seyt, Middle English seyþ, Middle English seyþe, Middle English seythe, Middle English seyyn, Middle English seyyth, Middle English syn, Middle English–1500s saien, Middle English–1500s saies, Middle English–1500s sayen, Middle English–1500s sayn, Middle English–1500s sayne, Middle English–1500s says, Middle English–1500s seie, Middle English–1500s seien, Middle English–1500s seyen, Middle English–1500s seyn, Middle English–1500s seyth, Middle English–1500s (1900s– regional) sey, Middle English–1600s sai, Middle English–1600s saie, Middle English–1600s saine, Middle English–1600s saye, Middle English–1600s sayes, Middle English– say, 1500s sayin; English regional 1700s– zay (south-western), 1800s sen (Yorkshire), 1800s– says (north midlands), 1900s– sayen (Lancashire); Scottish pre-1700 sae, pre-1700 sais, pre-1700 sane (poetic), pre-1700 sayis, pre-1700 says, pre-1700 sayth, pre-1700 se, pre-1700 seys, pre-1700 1700s– say; N.E.D. (1910) also records a form Middle English seyithe.

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.
a1200   MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 71   We..seien hem ure ateliche sinnes þe we hauen don.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 917   Ebruis seigen wune hem wex her To algen ilu fiftene ger.
c1330  (?a1300)    Sir Tristrem (1886) l. 3220   Þai leiȝen al bi dene Þat sain he dar nouȝt fiȝt Wiþ his fo.
c1390  (a1376)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Vernon) (1867) A. vii. l. 122   Ȝif hit beo soþ þat ȝe seyen.
a1400  (?a1325)    Medit. on Supper of our Lord (Harl.) (1875) 675   Sum seyþ, ‘saue þy selfe, ȝyf þou kunne.’
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) 343   Als clerkes sais.
a1475   J. Fortescue Governance of Eng. (Laud) (1885) 152   To this sane [v.rr. sayn, sayen] suche lordes and oþer men.
1490   W. Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) xxii. 481   Wene ye that I shall do that ye saye for fere of deth?
1554   D. Lindsay Dialog Experience & Courteour l. 6032 in Wks. (1931) I   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.

e. Imperative. (i). Singular.

α. Old English saeg (Northumbrian), Old English sæg (Anglian), Old English sæga, Old English saege (Northumbrian), Old English sæge, Old English sægi (Northumbrian), Old English saga, Old English sage (rare), Old English sege, late Old English seige, late Old English siege (Kentish, in prefixed forms), early Middle English sæȝ, early Middle English saeȝe, early Middle English sæȝe, early Middle English sæi, early Middle English sæie, early Middle English sæiȝe, early Middle English seg, early Middle English seȝȝ ( Ormulum), early Middle English seien (south-west midlands), early Middle English seiȝe, early Middle English seih, early Middle English seit (with personal pronoun affixed), Middle English sa (northern), Middle English sai, Middle English sais (northern), Middle English sei, Middle English seie, Middle English zay (south-eastern), Middle English–1500s saie, Middle English–1500s sey, Middle English–1600s saye, Middle English–1600s seye, Middle English– say, 1600s saine (archaic); also Scottish pre-1700 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.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 9299   Lef maȝȝstre seȝȝ uss nu þin raþ.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 1135   Seie [c1300 Otho sei] me Locrin saie me læðe mon.
a1300   Passion our Lord 585 in R. Morris Old Eng. Misc. (1872) 54   Saye heom þat ich astye to mynes vader riche.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 11964   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 (2000) xvi. 489   Say yes to life.

β. Old English sæcg (rare), Old English secg (rare).

OE   St. Margaret (Tiber.) (1994) 128   Sæcg me, Margareta, hwanon is..þin geleafa?

(ii). Plural.

α. early Old English seggað (Mercian), Old English sæcgas (Northumbrian), Old English sæcgaþ, Old English sæcgað, Old English sægcas (Northumbrian), Old English seccað (rare), Old English secgaþ, Old English sęcgaþ (Mercian), Old English secgeað, Old English secggæþ (in prefixed forms), Old English secggaþ, Old English–early Middle English secgað, late Old English secgæþ (Kentish), late Old English secgæð (Kentish, in prefixed forms), late Old English secgeð, late Old English segcæþ (Kentish), early Middle English sæcgð, early Middle English segeð, early Middle English segged, early Middle English segget, early Middle English seggeð, early Middle English seggez, early Middle English siggeð, early Middle English siggit, early Middle English suggeð, Middle English segge, Middle English seggeþ, Middle English seggeth, Middle English sigge.

OE   Blickling Homilies 71   Secggaþ Siones dohtrum þæt heora cining cymeþ.
OE   Paris Psalter (1932) civ. 1   Secgeað his wundorweorc.., secgað his wundor.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 3   Segged þet þe lauerd haued þar-of neode.
c1275  (?c1250)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) 116   Segge [a1300 Jesus Oxf. seggeþ] me ȝif ȝe hit wiste.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 435   Suggeð [c1300 Otho seggeþ] me to runun ræd þat eou þunche.
a1500  (?a1400)    Firumbras (1935) 1468   Lordynges..Off thys ilke message segge me sone.

β. Old English sægað (rare), Old English sægeað (in prefixed forms, rare), late Old English seagæð (Kentish, in prefixed forms), late Old English seigað (Kentish), Middle English sai, Middle English saie, Middle English sais, Middle English saise, Middle English saye, Middle English sayeþ, Middle English sayeth, Middle English says, Middle English sayþ, Middle English saythe, Middle English sei, Middle English seieþ, Middle English seieth, Middle English seiȝth, Middle English seis, Middle English seiþe, Middle English seith, Middle English seyeþ, Middle English seyeth, Middle English seyȝt, Middle English seyith, Middle English seys, Middle English seyth, Middle English seyyth, Middle English syhtthe, Middle English sythe, Middle English–1500s sey, Middle English– say; also Scottish pre-1700 sa, pre-1700 sais, pre-1700 says; N.E.D. (1910) also records forms late Middle English sayth, late Middle English seie.

OE   Monastic Canticles (Vesp. D.xii) (1976) iv. 4   Dicite pusillanimes : sægað ge lytlingas.
lOE   Canterbury Psalter: Canticles i. 5   Annuntiate hoc in universa terra : seigað ðis on eælre eorðæn.
a1325  (?a1300)    in G. H. McKnight Middle Eng. Humorous Tales (1913) 22   Yu hel me noth, yu say me sone.
a1375  (c1350)    William of Palerne (1867) 593   Seiȝth me al ȝour seknesse.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 5092   To fotte mi fader sal yee fund, And sais him i am hale and sund.
1450   J. Fastolf in Paston Lett. & Papers (2005) III. 86   And sey hem on my half that they shall be qwyt.
a1529   J. Skelton Poems against Garnesche in Poet Wks. (1843) I. 116   But sey me now, Syr Satrapas, what autoryte ye haue?
a1616   W. Shakespeare Macbeth (1623) 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. (1856) II. 157   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.

2. Past tense. (a) early Old English saigdę, early Old English sęgde, Old English saegde (Northumbrian), Old English sagode (rare), Old English sęde, Old English segde (chiefly Mercian and Kentish), Old English seid (transmission error), Old English–early Middle English sæde, Old English–early Middle English sægde, Old English–Middle English sede, late Old English saede, late Old English sæigde, late Old English segede, late Old English siede (Kentish), late Old English–early Middle English sæide, late Old English–1500s seide, early Middle English sæȝde, early Middle English saigde, early Middle English seaide, early Middle English seȝȝde ( Ormulum), Middle English sad, Middle English sayt, Middle English sead, Middle English seed, Middle English seeyde, Middle English seiede, Middle English seiid, Middle English seydde, Middle English seydh (probably transmission error), Middle English seyed, Middle English seyede, Middle English seyȝ (Wiltshire), Middle English seyid, Middle English seyt, Middle English side, Middle English syde, Middle English zayde (south-eastern), Middle English zeayde (south-eastern), Middle English zede (south-eastern), Middle English–1500s saed, Middle English–1500s sayede, Middle English–1500s seid, Middle English–1500s seied, Middle English–1500s seyd, Middle English–1500s seyde, Middle English–1600s sade, Middle English–1600s saide, Middle English–1600s saied, Middle English–1600s sayd, Middle English–1600s sayde, Middle English–1600s (1700s– regional and nonstandard) sed, Middle English–1700s sayed, Middle English– said, late Middle English saydy (transmission error), 1500s–1700s say'd; English regional 1800s– zaid (south-western), 1900s– sid; U.S. regional 1900s– sid (in African-American usage), 1900s– zaid; Scottish pre-1700 sad, pre-1700 sade, pre-1700 saed, pre-1700 saide, pre-1700 sayde, pre-1700 sayid, pre-1700 sayit, pre-1700 sead, pre-1700 sed, pre-1700 seyd, pre-1700 seyde, pre-1700 1700s– said, pre-1700 1900s– sayd, pre-1700 1900s– sayed; also Irish English 1800s zide (Wexford), 1800s– sayed (northern), 1800s– sid (northern); N.E.D. (1910) also records a form Middle English seȝede; (b) With personal pronoun affixed Middle English saidestow, Middle English seidestow, Middle English seidich, Middle English seydestow.
eOE   tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (Tanner) 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].
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 8660   Acc do swa summ þu seȝȝdesst.
a1200  (?c1175)    Poema Morale (Trin. Cambr.) 131 in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 224   Drihte self hit sade.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 7785   Þa cnihtes biliue comen to þan reue & þus him to sæiden [c1300 Otho sayde].
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 15661   Þou said [Fairf. saide, Trin. Cambr. seidest] for me if mister war, to ded thole suld þou fight.
a1413  (c1385)    G. Chaucer Troilus & Criseyde (Pierpont Morgan) (1881) i. l. 912   So seydestow ful ofte.
c1480  (a1400)    St. Peter 83 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) I. 9   He sad, he subuertit nocht.
a1500  (?a1390)    J. Mirk Festial (Gough) (1905) 168   By vertu of þe holy wordys þat þe prest sayed þer.
1562   N. Winȝet Certain Tractates (1888) II. 55   He sayd nocht, the thingis haldin of hald.
1598   W. 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 (1886) 50   He..with execration sayed: ‘If I haue committed this theft [etc.]’.
1645   J. 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.
3. Past participle.

α. Old English gesæd, Old English gesaegd (Northumbrian), Old English sæged (Northumbrian, in prefixed forms (not ge-)), Old English gesægd, Old English gesæið (perhaps transmission error), Old English sægd, Old English segd (chiefly Mercian), Old English–early Middle English sæd, Old English (in prefixed forms (not ge-))–Middle English sead, late Old English gesed, early Middle English ȝesæd, early Middle English ȝesed, early Middle English isæd, early Middle English isæȝd, early Middle English isæid, early Middle English isait, early Middle English iseaid, early Middle English isegd, early Middle English iseit, early Middle English iseið, early Middle English seȝȝd ( Ormulum), early Middle English sehid, early Middle English sei (probably transmission error), early Middle English sey (probably transmission error), Middle English isaid, Middle English isaide, Middle English isayd, Middle English isayde, Middle English ised, Middle English iseid, Middle English iseide, Middle English iseiid, Middle English iseyd, Middle English iseyde, Middle English jsaide, Middle English jsayde, Middle English sad, Middle English saede, Middle English sai (transmission error), Middle English sayt, Middle English sede, Middle English seedy (transmission error), Middle English seit, Middle English ysade, Middle English ysaid, Middle English ysaide, Middle English ysaied, Middle English ysayd, Middle English ysayde, Middle English ysed, Middle English yseid, Middle English yseide, Middle English yseit, Middle English yseyd, Middle English yseyde, Middle English yzed (south-eastern), Middle English (1700s– regional and nonstandard) sed, Middle English–1500s saed, Middle English–1500s saiede, Middle English–1500s seid, Middle English–1500s seide, Middle English–1500s seied, Middle English–1500s seyd, Middle English–1500s seyde, Middle English–1500s seyed, Middle English–1500s ysayd, Middle English–1500s ysayde, Middle English–1500s ysed, Middle English–1600s sade, Middle English–1600s saide, Middle English–1600s saied, Middle English–1600s sayd, Middle English–1600s sayde, Middle English–1600s sayed, Middle English– said, 1500s sayede, 1500s seede, 1500s–1700s say'd; English regional 1700s a zed (south-western), 1800s sayed (northern), 1800s– a-zaid (south-western), 1800s– zaid (south-western), 1800s– zed (south-western), 1900s– a-said (south-western), 1900s– sid (midlands); Scottish pre-1700 sad, pre-1700 sade, pre-1700 saed, pre-1700 saidd- (inflected form), pre-1700 saide, pre-1700 sayd, pre-1700 saydd- (inflected form), pre-1700 sayde, pre-1700 sayed, pre-1700 sayid, pre-1700 scaid (transmission error), pre-1700 sead, pre-1700 sed, pre-1700 sedde, pre-1700 sede, pre-1700 seid, pre-1700 seyd, pre-1700 seyde, pre-1700 1700s– said; also Irish English (northern) 1900s– sayed, 1900s– sid.

eOE (Mercian)   Vespasian Psalter (1965) ci. 19 (22)   Ut adnuntietur in sion nomen domini : ðæt sie segd in sion noma dryht'.
eOE   tr. Orosius Hist. (BL Add.) (1980) 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.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 47   Þeos ilke weord þe ic habbe her iseit habbeð muchele bi-tacnunge.
a1275  (?c1200)    Prov. Alfred (Trin. Cambr.) (1955) 118   Hit is said in lede: Cold red is quene red.
c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 2126   As ichabbe ysed [c1425 Harl. yseit].
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 11261   Quen þai had sai[d] [Gött. sayd, Trin. Cambr. seide; c1460 Laud seid] þat þai wald sai.
1490   W. Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) xxvi. 560   All that they had sayed.
1515   in Coll. Surrey Archæol. Soc. (1858) I. 182   I will that there be seede..v masses.
1557   Primer Sarum (Dirige Ps. xxvi.) I vij   My heart hath saied set vnto thee.
1567   G. Turberville tr. Ovid Heroycall Epist. 116   Alas poore wretch, my Phaon I had very neare ysed.
a1682   Sir T. Browne Christian Morals (1716) iii. 76   Nothing can be said Hyperbolically of God.
a1699   A. Halkett Autobiogr. (1875) 49   To take that upon him hee had never Saied.
c1710   R. North Musical Grammarian (draft) (MS BL Add. 32537) in G. Strahle Early Mus. Dict. (1996) 8/2   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 (1997) 231   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. Middle English sayn, Middle English sayne, Middle English seyen, Middle English seyn, 1500s–1600s saine; English regional (Yorkshire) 1800s– saan, 1800s– sayn; Scottish 1800s sen, 1800s– sain, 1900s– sayen.

c1400  (c1378)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Laud 581) (1869) B. xvii. l. 22   And sexty þousande bisyde forth þat ben nouȝt seyen here.
c1440  (c1395)    G. Chaucer Squire's Tale (Laud Misc. 600) f. 170   Whan he haþ al wel sayn þan haþ he don.
?a1475   Ludus Coventriae (1922) 60   I josophat..All þat my progenitouris hath be-for me seyn [rhyme serteyn], Feythfully be-leve with-owtyn all dubytacion.
a1500  (?a1400)    Morte Arthur (1903) 2872   Pees shall ther neuer be sayne [rhymes mayne, slayne] Or thy sydes be throw sought.
a1592   R. Greene Comicall Hist. Alphonsus (1599) 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 (1922) 110   Afore ye cudda sain Jeck Robison.
1969   in Sc. National Dict. (1971) VIII. at Say   [Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeenshire, Angus] Sayen.

γ. late Middle English seggid.

a1450   York Plays (1885) 308   Tille I haue seggid and saide all my sawe.

δ. late Middle English sadyn, late Middle English saydyn, late Middle English seden.

a1500  (▸1422)    J. Yonge tr. Secreta Secret. (Rawl.) (1898) 201   Prayer othyrwhyle is sadyn a good worke.
a1500  (▸1422)    J. Yonge tr. Secreta Secret. (Rawl.) (1898) 207   Of the vertu of Iustice afor in this boke Is largely Saydyn.

(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Origin: A word inherited from Germanic.
Etymology: Cognate with Old Frisian sega  , sedza   (West Frisian sizze  ), Old Dutch sagon   (Middle Dutch seggen  , sagen  , 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  , säghia  , (runic) sægia   (Swedish säga  ), Danish sighæ   (Danish sige  ), 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  , insece  ), ἐνισπεῖν   (aorist infinitive), to tell, say (corresponding to classical Latin inquam   I say).
Compare queath v., tell v., and speak v.   (see note at definition).
Compare ( < the same Germanic base) the noun formation saw n.2
Form history.
Originally a weak verb of Class III (compare have v., live v.1). 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. (1959) §§762, 766, R. M. Hogg & R. D. Fulk Gram. Old Eng. (2011) II. §§6.122–6, D. Ringe & A. Taylor Devel. Old Eng. (2014) 362–8, and compare also H. M. Flasdieck in Anglia 59 (1935) 1–192.
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 (//); 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 1aα. , 1dα. , 1e(ii)α. . 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 1bα. , 1cα. , 1e(i)α. ; 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 1aβ. , 1dβ. , 1e(ii)β. ., and compare also the parallel development of lay v.1). 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 1bβ. , 1cβ. , 1e(i)β. ). 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. a1450 at sense A. 3c; compare also Middle Low German sagen und seggen  ). The occurrence of the analogical past participle form seggid   in seggid and saide   (see quot. a1450   at Forms 3γ. ) 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  , y  , u  , 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  , sagode  , 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  , seide  , Middle Dutch segde  , seide  , 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 sez v.). 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. sede   at Forms 2(a)).
Infinitive and past participle forms in -n, -ne.
Say   is one of very few verbs which show a distinct inflected infinitive form in later Middle English and early modern English (e.g. sain  , saine  , sayne  , seyne  , etc.: see Forms 1aβ. ), probably a secondary formation by analogy with similar forms of monosyllabic verbs, such as be v., do v., go v., see v.   Similarly, the past participle forms in -n   (see Forms 3β. ) 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 disour n.) and its etymon classical Latin dīcere   (see dictum n.), which have a similar semantic range.
With intransitive use in the past tense in narrative poetry (see sense A. 4) compare similar uses of classical Latin dixit   (past participle of dīcere  ) and ancient Greek ἦ ῥα   (Homer; <   he said (see adage n.1) + ῥα  , enclitic particle).
In use with infinitive complement (see sense A. 9b) 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 A. 9   and (especially) A. 11   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 A. 11   compare Old French ci dist  , ço dist   this means, lit. ‘this says’ (c1100).
Prefixed forms in Old English.
In Old English the prefixed form gesecgan   to speak, utter, tell, to announce, declare, expound (compare y- prefix) is also attested; compare also (Northumbrian) æfsecga   to refute (compare of- prefix), asecgan   to speak, declare, to tell, recite, to explain, to consecrate, dedicate (compare a- prefix1), beforansecgan   (see before-say vb. at before adv., prep., conj., and n. Compounds 3), besecgan  besay v., (Northumbrian) efnesecga   to agree (compare even adv.), (Northumbrian) eftsecga   to report, to renounce, to relate (compare eft adv.), foresecgan  fore-say v., forsecgan   (see forsay vb. at for- prefix1 1b), forþsecgan   to make known, declare, utter (compare forth adv.), (Northumbrian) insecga   to infer (compare in- prefix1), onsecgan   to renounce, deny, to offer sacrifice (compare on- prefix), wiþsecgan  withsay v., and also fullsecgan   to relate fully, give a full account of (compare full adv.), sōþsecgan   to declare truly (see soothsay v.).
 A. v.1Say is the most basic and common verb used to introduce direct speech in modern English (see sense A. 1). In Old English, however, queath v.   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 A. 2); 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 quoth v.). At the same time several functions of say in Old English were taken over, partly or fully, by tell v.: compare especially sense A. 10, in which sense tell is also attested in Old English, but also, e.g., senses A. 2e   and A. 14, 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 A. 2a(a)); such examples as are found subsequently are archaic and formulaic (see, e.g., the quots. at nay adv.1 2c(a)). 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 A. 4   is now rare for say (cf. speak v. 1), as is the use of speak to introduce direct speech (see speak v. 2a).
 I. To utter, speak; to express in words, declare; to make known, tell.
 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).

 (a) Preceding the specified words.

OE   West Saxon Gospels: Mark (Corpus Cambr.) xiv. 58   We gehyrdon hine secgan [L. dicentem], ic towurpe þis handworhte tempel.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 41   Þenne sæȝest ðu, alle [L. respondebis, omnia].
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 149   & godess enngell seȝȝde himm to..Ne dred te zacariȝe.
a1200   MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 5   To þe oðer wurð iseid þat loðeliche word..Ite maledicti in ignem eternum.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 41   And eft þe boc seið, ‘Ne scule ȝe neure god don unforgolden.’
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 137   Saynt Iob..zayde of him-zelue, ‘Huet am ich bote esssse?’
a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(1)) (1850) Prov. i. 21   In the doris of the ȝatis of the cite he [sc. Wisdom] bringeth forth his woordis, seiende [L. dicens], Hou longe, ȝee litle childer, [etc.].
c1449   R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 258   In this maner of colourid speche we seien: ‘This ymage is Seint Peter’.
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Psalms cxvi. 11   I sayde in my haist: All men are lyers.
1588   A. King tr. P. Canisius Cathechisme or Schort Instr. 137   S. Peter..said, Ȝe haue slane the authoure of lyf.
1611   Bible (King James) Judges xii. 6   Then said they vnto him, Say now, Shibboleth: and he said, Sibboleth.  View more context for this quotation
1672   R. Hooke Let. ?June in I. Newton Corr. (1959) I. 201   He misread my words for I say a splitting of ye Ray of Light, and he would Make me say a Splitting of ye Ætheriall pulse.
1685   tr. F. M. van Helmont Paradoxal Disc. 179   The publick Prayers (which every one of the people were to conclude with saying Amen) uttered by the Schliach Zibbor, or Angel of the Congregation.
1768   J. Boswell Acct. Corsica (ed. 2) 337   Of modern infidels and innovatours, he said ‘Sir, these are all vain men’.
1821   T. De Quincey J. P. F. Richter in London Mag. Dec. 609/2   Not..whilst you can say Jack Robinson.
1872   C. S. Calverley Fly Leaves 64   Is it not—(never, Eddy, say ‘ain't it’)—A marvellous sight?
1912   R. F. Scott Jrnl. Mar. in Last Exped. (1913) I. xx. 592   It was blowing a blizzard. He [sc. Captain Oates] said, ‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’
1989   C. R. Hausman Metaphor & Art ii. 64   When Shakespeare says, ‘Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang,’ he does so in the larger context of the verse.
2011   K. Day Million Miles from Boston xvii. 131   I showed Lauren's welt to Mrs. Dennis, who said, ‘Oh, accidents will happen.’

OE—2011(Hide quotations)


 (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 A. 1c(b)).

lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough interpolation) anno 656   ‘Swa beo hit’, seiþ alle, ‘Amen’.
c1225  (?c1200)    Hali Meiðhad (Bodl.) (1940) 6   ‘Iher me, dohter’, he seið.
c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 921   ‘Louerd,’ he sede, ‘we beþ men wide idriue aboute.’
c1390  (a1376)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Vernon) (1867) 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 Grande Chirurgie (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.
c1460  (c1390)    G. Chaucer Man of Law's End-link (Selden) (1871) l. 1179   Nay bi godis soule, that shal he nat Seide the Shipman.
a1529   J. Skelton Manerly Margery in Compl. Eng. Poems (1983) 35   Tully, valy, strawe, let be I say!
1572  (a1500)    Taill of Rauf Coilȝear (1882) 746   The curagious Knichtis bad haue him to hing..‘God forbot’ he said, ‘my thank war sic thing To him that succourit my lyfe!’
1600   W. Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream ii. ii. 68   Amen, to that faire prayer, say I.  View more context for this quotation
1640   tr. G. S. du Verdier Love & Armes Greeke Princes ii. xxiii. 87   I am he, said Lucendus, most ready to serve you if you have occasion to use me.
1719   R. Steele Old Whig No. 2. 12   Comets, said he, are Two-fold, Supra-lunar, and Sub-lunar.
1806   T. S. Surr Winter in London III. i. 35   ‘Is he alive?’ said Belloni with interested emotion.
1840   Tait's Edinb. Mag. June 357/1   ‘It was,’ he said, ‘an awful meeting.’
1903   S. Crane & R. Barr O'Ruddy 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’ Doctor in House vii. 80   ‘Keyhole surgery!’ said Sir Lancelot with contempt.
1960   G. Durrell Zoo in my Luggage viii. 189   ‘Cor!’ said the constable, in a voice of deep emotion.
2000   M. Phillips Hidden in Time 141   ‘It may be,’ he said, ‘that we have stumbled on something of great import.’

lOE—2000(Hide quotations)


 b. intransitive. In parenthetic clauses introduced by as. Later also in parenthetic phrase shall I say (cf. shall we say at Phrases 5b).

OE   Ælfric Let. to Wulfsige (Corpus Cambr.) in B. Fehr Die Hirtenbriefe Ælfrics (1914) 6   He ne moste on wydewum wifigan ne on aworpenum wife; ac, ealswa we ær sædon, on sumum mædene.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 463   Þiss gode mann..Wass alls i seȝȝde nu littlær. Ȝehatenn zacaryas.
a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) v. l. 1623 (MED)   Thei..maden othre goddes newe, As thou hast herd me seid tofore.
a1500  (c1477)    T. Norton Ordinal of Alchemy (BL Add.) (1975) l. 359 (MED)   Nothing multiplieth, as auctours says, But bi one of these two waies.
1580   W. Fulke Retentiue 5   As Augustine saith, we must hold yt church which both is catholike, & is so called.
1600   W. Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream iii. ii. 278   Why then, you left mee..In earnest, shall I say ?  View more context for this quotation
1620   R. Newton Countesse of Mountgomeries Eusebeia 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 New Acct. E.-India & Persia 262   As we are wont to say, Well done.
1748   J. Upton Crit. Observ. Shakespeare (ed. 2) ii. iii. 147   Making war against the hair, as Shakespeare says, by destroying it.
1826   Lancet 25 Nov. 263/1   There's no help for spilt milk, as we say in Ireland.
1844   R. W. Emerson Young Amer. 20   The timidity of our public opinion is our disease, or, shall I say, the publicness of opinion, the absence of private opinion.
1898   Cosmopolitan Oct. 716   It is, as Zola said somewhere, the over-realm which transcends the pettiness of sects and politics.
a1945   E. R. Eddison Mezentian Gate (1958) xxxviii. 202   Will you not..find some new word of opprobriousness for (shall I say?) your stepson?
1966   B. Brophy Don't never Forget 313   Snobberies and titles are to her absurd affectations which she can't, as she says, ‘be doing with’.
2003   A. Collins Where did it all go Right? i. 28   We learned something that day, as Kyle says on South Park.

OE—2003(Hide quotations)

 c. spec.

 (a) transitive. 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 checkmate int. b, goodbye n., int., and adj. Phrases 1, ho int.2, nay adv.1 2, sorry adj. and n.1 Phrases 4.

c1275   Doomsday (Calig.) in C. Brown Eng. Lyrics 13th Cent. (1932) 45   Moni of þisse riche þat wereden foh & grei..schulen atte dome suggen weilawei.
1372   in E. Wilson Descriptive Index Lyrics John of Grimestone's Preaching Bk. (1973) 61 (MED)   He is wis þat hat inou and þanne seit [a1400 Harl. 2316 kan seyn] ‘Hö’.
?a1400  (a1338)    R. Mannyng Chron. (Petyt) (1996) i. l. 11157   At ilk matyng þei said ‘Chek!’
a1500   in Anglia (1909) 32 488   When men be meriest. alday deth seith chek mate.
1529   T. More Supplyc. Soulys 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 Bee Hiue of Romishe Church 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 Oroonoko 76   I wonnot say farewell, For you must follow me.
1709   R. Steele Tatler No. 105. ⁋3   He would not say her nay in any Thing.
1783   Gentleman's Mag. Sept. 782/1   And turning thence with pensive steps and slow, I wav'd my hand, I could not say farewell.
1857   R. Glisan Jrnl. Army Life (1874) viii. 86   I shall be able to say good bye to the messpots of Uncle Sam.
1880   R. Broughton Second Thoughts II. ii. x. 91   Nothing remains but for the once enemies to say farewell.
1918   G. Lee Diary 7 Apr. in Home Fires Burning (2006) 251   I made my way downstairs in my travelling dress to say goodbye to the friends of both our families.
1936   D. Thomas Let. 7 July (1987) 232   I should have written and said thanks weeks ago, but I mislaid your address.
1970   Rodeo Sports News 15 Nov. 2/2   A top bull rider who rodeoed up through the mid-sixties stopped by and said hello the other day.
2007   Townsville (Austral.) Sun (Nexis) 26 Sept. 36   ‘After the event we had..a barbecue to say thanks to everyone,’ ACW Kelly said.

c1275—2007(Hide quotations)


 (b) transitive. 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. Phrases 10g, sez v.   Now chiefly Irish English.

1682   ‘Philanax Misopappas’ Tory Plot: 2nd Pt. 3   If he preach up nothing but Hell and Heaven, and a good Life,..D - - - me, says he, this Fellow's Whiggefi'd.
1683   J. Dryden & N. Lee Duke of Guise Epil. sig. A4   Jack Ketch, says I, 's an excellent Physician.
1700   W. Congreve Way of World iii. i. 34   Humh (says he) what you are a hatching some Plot (says he) you are so early abroad.
1707   D. Defoe True Relation Mrs Veal (ed. 3) 8   Mrs. Bargrave asked her whether she would drink some Tea. Says Mrs. Veal, ‘I do not care if I do.’
1709   J. Swift Mrs. Harris's Petition in Baucis & Philemon (new ed.) 11   Says Cary, says he,..I never heard of such a Thing.
1720   T. Gordon & J. Trenchard Independent Whig No. 23   Says I to myself, This reverend ill-tongu'd Parson will certainly quarrel.
1784   R. Bage Barham Downs I. 79   I believe, says I, it has caught your sister's dejection.
1825   T. Hook Sayings & Doings 2nd Ser. II. 103   Because, says I to myself says I, it may save them-there unfortunate, innocent people.
1847   W. M. Thackeray Vanity Fair (1848) iii. 20   ‘I bet you thirteen to ten that Sophy Cutler hooks either you or Mulligatawney before the rains.’ ‘Done,’ says I.
1853   C. Dickens Bleak House v. 37   That warn't like Chancery practice though, says you!
1887   W. E. Henley Culture in Slums i. 1   ‘O crikey, Bill!’ she ses to me, she ses.
1922   J. Joyce Ulysses 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 Let. 22 Dec. (1979) 423   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 Ghost Light (2011) vii. 107   Says I: ‘You'd want to keep a weather eye on any girleen in the house, sir.’

1682—2010(Hide quotations)


 d. transitive. Of an animal: to make (its characteristic cry or sound).

c1430  (c1380)    G. Chaucer Parl. Fowls (Cambr. Gg.4.27) (1871) l. 594   Kek kek ȝit seith the doke.
c1500  (▸1342)    in R. H. Robbins Secular Lyrics 14th & 15th Cent. (1952) 45   He toke a goose fast by the nek And made her to sey, ‘wheccumquek’.
1640   J. D. Knave in Graine 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 Poems 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 Youth's Coronal 166   The taunting Duck said, ‘Quack, quack, quack!’ As her muddy mouth to the pool went back.
1922   J. Joyce Ulysses ii. iv. [Calypso] 54   Mrkrgnao! the cat said loudly.
1983   Boys' Life Apr. 73/3   Uncle Joe asked, ‘Who was the greatest baseball player of all time?’ And the dog said, ‘Woof, woof.’
2008   I. Haiblum Murder in Gotham xxxiv. 135   Weiss scratched the cat behind the left ear. The cat said, ‘Meow.’

c1430—2008(Hide quotations)

 a. 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.

(a) transitive. With clause as object, and the person addressed as indirect object. Frequently in imperative. Obsolete.

OE   Beowulf (2008) 1175   Me man sægde þæt þu ðe for sunu wolde hereri[n]c habban.
OE   Blickling Homilies 9   Se engel hire sægde þæt heo sceolde modor beon hire Scyppendes.
lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough interpolation) anno 1070   An cyrceweard..ferde sona ær dæg to þone abbot Turolde & sægde him þet he sohte his griðe.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 5306   He..seide him forð-rihtes. þat wið him he wolde fehte.
a1300   Passion our Lord l. 585 in R. Morris Old Eng. Misc. (1872) 54 (MED)   Saye heom þat ich astye to mynes vader riche.
?c1450   Life St. Cuthbert (1891) l. 6185   Men saide him þat it was not sothe.
a1500  (c1340)    R. Rolle Psalter (Univ. Oxf. 64) (1884) ii. §10. 11   Ȝoure consciens sais ȝou that ȝe doe wrange.
a1500  (a1460)    Towneley Plays (1994) I. ix. 88   Go grete hym well, thou messyngere; Say hym I com.
1511   H. Watson tr. Noble Hist. King Ponthus (new ed.) sig. Q.iiii   Saye hym that for his loue we wyll haue his cosyn.

OE—1511(Hide quotations)


 (b) transitive. With clause as object, and without explicit identification of the person or persons addressed: to declare, state, assert.

OE   Ælfric Homily (Corpus Cambr. 188) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1967) I. 265   Ge secgaþ þæt ic adræfde deofla of mannum þurh ðæs deofles mihte þe menn hataþ Beelzebub.
?a1160   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1135   Men..sæden ðat micel þing sculde cumen herefter.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 15 (MED)   Monimon seið þet þa weren strotige [perh. read stronge] laȝe.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 903   Wiste noman..Quat kinde he was kumen fro, Oc summe seiden ðat it was sem.
a1375  (c1350)    William of Palerne (1867) l. 488   Sche..seide sadly..sche wold seche amendis.
1433   N. Phillip Serm. in A. G. Little Franciscan Papers, Lists, & Documents (1943) 255 (MED)   Myn childe cryse and sayse his fadir has for sakyn hym.
▸ ?a1513   W. Dunbar Poems (1998) I. 134   He said he was ane licherus bull That croynd baith day and nycht.
1577   T. Kendall tr. Politianus et al. Flowers of Epigrammes f. 18   Thou saist thou art as much my frend as any man can be.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Antony & Cleopatra (1623) ii. i. 11   My powers are Cressent, and my Auguring hope Sayes it will come to'th'full.
1617   F. Moryson Itinerary i. 178   I formerly said that I bought a horse at Paduoa.
1657   W. Coles Adam in Eden cviii   Some say, that it [sc. Sundew] is a searing or caustick Herb, and very much biting.
1673   W. Wycherley Gentleman Dancing-master iii. i   What I have said I have said.
1717   Lady M. W. Montagu Let. 18 Apr. (1965) I. 349   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 Diary 25 Oct. (1961) II. 218   Duane says that Jefferson is the greatest Rubber off of Dust that he has met with.
1798   W. Wordsworth We are Seven in W. Wordsworth & S. T. Coleridge Lyrical Ballads 110   She was eight years old, she said.
1829   K. H. Digby Broad Stone of Honour: Godefridus xxi. 272   Gibbon says that the French monarchy was created by the bishops of France.
1842   Ld. Tennyson Lady of Shalott (rev. ed.) ii, in Poems (new ed.) I. 79   She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she stay.
1859   ‘G. Eliot’ Adam Bede III. vi. xlix. 208   It's your kindness makes you say I'm useful to you.
1913   M. Johnston Hagar 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 Reason, Social Myths & Democracy i. ii. 20   To say that Russia is a democracy in the aforegoing sense would be utterly false.
1980   R. Lee China Jrnl. vi. 61   I am not saying that China today is a paradise for women's libbers.
2012   Independent 18 July 21/4   Looking towards the sky, he said he was just hoping for some good weather soon.

OE—2012(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive. 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 A. 16.Sometimes also intransitive with the question implied by the preceding context.

OE   Riddle 19 9   Saga hwæt ic hatte.
OE   Old Eng. Hexateuch: Gen. (Claud.) xli. 15   Ic geseah swefn & ic ne mæg nanne man findan, þe me secge hwæt hit behealde.
c1175  (▸OE)    Homily: Hist. Holy Rood-tree (Bodl. 343) (1894) 26   Sæȝ us hwæt ðæt word bihealde oððe hwa ðe þerto wissode.
a1200   MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 21 (MED)   We habbeð bigunnen to sege ou on englis hwat bitocneð þe crede.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 2303   Ah ȝef ȝe wullen us seuggen ȝet ȝe mawen libben. whonene ȝe beð icumene.
a1375  (c1350)    William of Palerne (1867) l. 593 (MED)   Seiȝth me al ȝour seknesse & what so sore ȝow greuis.
a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) ii. l. 1871   Bot of Envie, If ther be more in his baillie Towardes love, sai me what.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 3853   And siþen he did him for to sai Quat was þe chesiun of his wai.
?a1425  (c1400)    Mandeville's Trav. (Titus C.xvi) (1919) 126 (MED)   Ȝif ȝou lyke to here how the mele cometh out of the trees, I schall seye ȝou.
c1449   R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 16   Seie to me also where in Holi Scripture is ȝouen the hundrid parti of the teching which is ȝouen upon vsure.
a1475   Visio Philiberti (Brogyntyn) in J. O. Halliwell Early Eng. Misc. (1855) 29   How ferful trowly there is no tong can saye.
a1529   J. Skelton Poems against Garnesche in Poet Wks. (1843) I. 116   But sey me yet, Syr Satropas, what auctoryte ye haue..to calle me a knaue?
a1586   Sir P. Sidney Astrophel & Stella (1591) 55   Say, whether thou wilt crowne With limitlesse renowne.
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost vii. 40   Say Goddess, what ensu'd.  View more context for this quotation
a1771   T. Gray Amatory Lines in A. Pope Wks. (1797) ii. 285   Ah say, fellow swains, how these symptoms befell me.
1819   W. Scott Ivanhoe II. xiii. 241   Rouse up thy soul to say what thou wilt do for thy liberty.
1884   Law Times 77 369/2   It was not then necessary for the court to say authoritatively whether it was right or not.
1930   D. L. Sayers Strong Poison ii. 35   Consider the circumstances of the case as a whole, and say what conclusion you have come to.
1954   I. Murdoch Under Net (1964) 32   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   N.Y. Rev. Bks. 19 Aug. 35/3   She declined to say whether she believed in natural or moral rights.

OE—2010(Hide quotations)


c. transitive. To make known, declare (a belief, opinion, judgement, etc.). Frequently with the person addressed as indirect object. Obsolete.

OE   Wærferð tr. Gregory Dialogues (Corpus Cambr.) (1900) ii. xxii. 149   On hwilc gerad þæt mihte beon, þæt he swa feor eode & slæpendum þam broðrum andsware sægde.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 9299   Lef maȝȝstre seȝȝ uss nu þin raþ & seȝȝ uss nu þin lare.
c1390   MS Vernon Homilies in Archiv f. das Studium der Neueren Sprachen (1877) 57 280 (MED)   He wolde him say his onswere on a noþer day.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 4582   O þis ioseph sai me þi dome, And giue me þar-of god consail.
c1405  (c1387–95)    G. Chaucer Canterbury Tales Prol. (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 787   [We] bade hym seye his voirdit as hym leste.
c1425   J. Lydgate Troyyes Bk. (Augustus A.iv) iv. l. 5455 (MED)   Trouþes alle be nat for to seyn.
1429–30   Rolls of Parl.: Henry VI (Electronic ed.) 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 Cronycles I. ccccxxx. f. cccvv/1   The bysshop..commaunded hym to say his aduyse.
a1568   R. Ascham Scholemaster (1570) i. f. 28   Where they may freely say their mindes.

OE—a1568(Hide quotations)


d. transitive. 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 Elene 1116   Leode gefægon.., sægdon wuldor gode ealle anmode.
OE   Ælfric Homily (Vitell. C.v) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1967) I. 322   Ðeah ðe hwa secge be me tal oððe hosp, hit byð him forgyfen.
?c1225  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 259   Preise him leoste [read laste] him do him scheome. sei him scheome al him is iliche leof.
c1275  (?c1250)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) 50   Ilome þu dest me grame & seist me boþe tone & schame.
?a1300   Dame Sirith l. 198 in G. H. McKnight Middle Eng. Humorous Tales (1913) 9 (MED)   Þou seruest affter godes grome Wen þou seist on me silk blame.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 69 (MED)   Hy..zyggeþ ofte onþank þan.
c1405  (c1390)    G. Chaucer Melibeus (Hengwrt) (2003) §325   Do wel to hym þt dooth to thee harm & blesse hym þt seith to thee harm.
c1405  (c1390)    G. Chaucer Shipman's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 167   A wyf ne shal nat seyn of hir housbonde But al honour.
a1450  (c1410)    H. Lovelich Hist. Holy Grail xiii. l. 302 (MED)   Mochel worschepe men Of him sayes.
c1475   tr. C. de Pisan Livre du Corps de Policie (Cambr.) (1977) 180 (MED)   It longeth not to a subiect to seye shame of his lorde.
a1500   in R. L. Greene Early Eng. Carols (1935) p. xcix (MED)   I prey the..sey me no veleny.
a1500  (?a1400)    Firumbras (1935) l. 889 (MED)   Y ne haue mysdo ne seyd no felonye.
1540   R. Taverner Epist. & Gospelles Easter tyll Aduent f. vi   The whyche when any sayde harme by hym, he sayde no harme agayne.
?1616   W. Goddard Mastif Whelp xiii. sig. H4   I'le saie noe harme, I'le tell thee onely this, What pleaseth woemen beste, and what it is.
1649   Contin. Narr. conc. Tryal King 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   W. Scott Fair Maid of Perth xii, in Chron. Canongate 2nd Ser. I. 315   I will say them no scandal.

OE—1828(Hide quotations)


 e. transitive. To speak (the truth); to tell (a lie). Frequently (now usually) in the infinitive in parenthetic phrases: see Phrases 3a(b).

OE   Vercelli Homilies (1992) i. 18   Witgode he þæt ungewealdene muðe be Cristes þrowunge. Sægde soð, swa he nyste.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 2306   We wullet soð sucgen [c1300 Otho segge].
c1405  (c1390)    G. Chaucer Monk's Prol. (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 76   Ful ofte in game a sooth I haue herd seye.
?c1430  (c1400)    J. Wyclif Eng. Wks. (1880) 29   Þus crist spekiþ to þe iewis & axeþ hem whi þei bileuen not to hym ȝif he seiþe trewþe.
c1460   Tree & 12 Frutes (McClean) (1960) 10 (MED)   Sumtyme it is lefful to hide a trewth, but it was neuer lefful to sey a fals.
1548   W. Patten Exped. Scotl. Pref. sig. a.v   The whiche I had, or rather (to saie truth and shame the deuel, for out it wool) I stale.
1611   Bible (King James) 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?  View more context for this quotation
a1664   M. Frank LI Serm. (1672) 447   They say a lie when they separate the works of the Gospel from that faith that justifies.
1823   King of Peak III. xii. 292   ‘A lie, ay!’ continued the knight of Haddon, ‘do not hold it strange. I say a lie.’
1908   J. Gairdner Lollardy & Reformation I. i. ii. 179   He protested that he said the truth and that he had been betrayed.
2000   E. Boehmer Bloodlines 86   Even then he never dropped his eyes and he never said a lie.

OE—2000(Hide quotations)


 f. transitive. 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 A. 3b. In extended use overlapping with branch A. III.

1876   W. Bayliss Witness of Art iv. i. 141   If Nature has nothing to say to us Art must be eternally dumb.
1881   H. James Portrait of Lady I. xviii. 222   I am afraid there are moments in life when even Beethoven has nothing to say to us.
1932   J. Buchan Sir W. Scott xii. 333   Venice, Tirol, Munich, Heidelberg said nothing to him.
1951   M. McLuhan Mech. Bride 80/2   By juxtaposition and contrast he is able to ‘say’ a great deal.
1958   Observer 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   Jrnl. Royal Soc. Arts 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 Smiths: Compl. Chord Songbk. (2005) 105   Burn down the disco, Hang the blessed DJ, Because the music that they constantly play, It says nothing to me about my life.
2001   Times 27 June ii. 11/1   His vivid evocation of the Palestinian dilemma says more about the latest eruption of violence than any political commentary.

1876—2001(Hide quotations)

 3. To make (an utterance or comment); to utter (words).
 a. With a pro-form in place of the reported speech or declaration. Usually with the specific utterance or comment specified or implied contextually.

 (a) transitive. With a pronoun as object, as what, that, this, it. Also with these things, those things used with pronominal function as object.

OE   West Saxon Gospels: Luke (Corpus Cambr.) xxiii. 3   Ða andswarude he, þu hit segst [L. tu dicis].
lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) anno 1083   Hwæt magon we secgean buton þet hi scotedon swiðe.
c1275  (?c1250)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) 60   Ȝif ich me holde in mine hegge Ne recche ich neuer what þu segge.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 584   Brutus hit herde siggen þurh his sæ-monnen.
c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) l. 6381 (MED)   Þin owe mouþ þe aþ ydemd bi þat þou seist me.
c1410   tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1879) VII. 145   Þe whiche i-seide, þe emperour i-smyten aȝen promoted hym sone into a bisshop.
1417   in T. Rymer Fœdera (1709) IX. 427 (MED)   I trust..that this that ye shal sey hym shal be secret.
a1450  (c1412)    T. Hoccleve De Regimine Principum (Harl. 4866) (1897) l. 1991 (MED)   What I haue y-seid þe, naght forgete.
?c1500   Mary Magdalene (Digby) l. 893   Wher have ȝe put hym? sey me thys.
1563   J. Foxe Actes & Monuments 1693/2   Boner. Well Sir, what say you to the Sacrament of orders? Smith. Ye may call them the Sacrament of misorders.
1611   Bible (King James) Luke xiii. 17   And when hee had said these things, all his aduersaries were ashamed.  View more context for this quotation
1677   A. Wood Life & Times (1892) II. 395   Dr. Bathurst is no great freind to the M[aste]rs and hath said it often that many of them deserve to be put out of the house.
1711   J. Swift Jrnl. to Stella 1 Jan. (1948) I. 147   What say you to that?
a1734   J. Clarke tr. Ovid Metamorphoses (1735) 181   After Boreas had said these things..he shook his wings..and the wide sea quavered.
1842   F. Marryat Percival Keene I. vi. 110   Saying this, I held out my hand, which Tommy took very readily.
1868   A. Helps Realmah (1876) xv. 394   Mauleverer only said that to tease you.
1958   A. Sillitoe Loneliness Long Distance Runner 39   It wasn't until he'd said this..that I realized it might be possible to do such a thing, run for money.
1993   M. Atwood in Quarry Mag. Apr. 66   She paused, not knowing what to say.
2000   C. Achebe Home & Exile 34   Saying this the way I have said it may well leave my reader with the impression that I became a sad and disillusioned old man.

OE—2000(Hide quotations)


 (b) intransitive. With so or thus. Cf. Phrases 10e(b), Phrases 10a, Phrases 10b. See so adv. and conj. 4, thus adv. 1.

OE   Wærferð tr. Gregory Dialogues (Hatton) (1900) ii. xxii.149   For hwi, broðru, for hwi secge ge swa [OE Corpus Cambr. cweðað ge þas word; L. ista dicitis]?
OE   Ælfric Homily (Cambr. Ii.4.6) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1967) I. 480   Se Hælend him andwyrde eft, þus him secgende: Þu eart æðele lareow.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 10289   He þa seȝȝde þuss till hemm. Naȝȝ. namm I nohht profete.
c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 8972   Wy seistou so.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 96   Þanne he openede his mouþ..and ham þus zeayde.
c1450  (a1400)    Chevalere Assigne l. 162 in W. H. French & C. B. Hale Middle Eng. Metrical Romances (1930) 865   Thus he seyth to his wyfe in sawe as I telle.
a1593   C. Marlowe Jew of Malta (1633) H 3 b   Saist thou me so?
1644   J. Milton Areopagitica 26   If he beleeve things only because his Pastor sayes so.
1662   E. Stillingfleet Origines Sacræ ii. vi. §16. 202   Say you so?
1749   T. Smollett tr. A. R. Le Sage Gil Blas III. vii. i. 6   So saying, he drew his long rapier.
1791   W. Cowper tr. Homer Odyssey in Iliad & Odyssey II. xvii. 237   So saying, his tatter'd wallet o'er his back He cast.
1814   R. Southey Roderick xxv. 378   Thus saying, they withdrew a little way.
1895   J. T. Sunderland College Town Pulpit Apr. 10   Mr. Ingersoll says No. And he is right in so saying.
1919   V. Meynelll Mod. Lovers iv. 36   ‘It's very nice of you to say so,’ he replied nervously.
1922   C. H. Woolbert & A. T. Weaver Better Speech 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 Celebrated Lett. (1996) 136   ‘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   Guardian 26 July i. 19/7   It says so on a very convincing site on the internet, so it must be true.

OE—2003(Hide quotations)


 (c) transitive. With the same as object. See same pron. 2a.

a1375  (c1350)    William of Palerne (1867) l. 1047 (MED)   William seide þe same.
c1400  (c1378)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Laud 581) (1869) B. xi. l. 289 (MED)   Þe same I segge for sothe by alle suche prestes.
1448   in S. A. Moore Lett. & Papers J. Shillingford (1871) i. 56 (MED)   Hit appereth hit is noght oure defaute, trustynge to God that oure party advers woll seye the same.
1532   T. More Confut. Tyndales Answere ii. p. cxlvi   I wyll saye the same.
1597   R. Tofte Laura iii. viii. sig. D5v   The fond behauiour of both which to see, Who so but nicely markes, will say the same.
1652   Perfect Acct. Intelligence Armies & Navy No. 62. 493   Our Doctors for the most part say the same.
1666   G. Torriano Proverbial Phrases 292/2 (note) in Piazza Universale   The Latin says the same, Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.
1740   J. Du Pré tr. P. Mussard Conformity Anc. & Mod. Ceremonies 101   The Pagans could say the same of their Saturnals, Bacchanals and Lupercals.
1793   S. Fitzgerald Let. in G. Campbell Edward & Pamela Fitzgerald (1904) vii. 82   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 Narr. Trav. M. Violet III. ii. 36   Any one on hearing him narrate would say the same.
1901   Daily Colonist (Victoria, Brit. Columbia) 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   Times 11 Oct. 4/7   I wish I could say the same of other sections of the Press.
2002   S. Waters Fingersmith xiii. 416   They all say the same: ‘Sue Trinder? Who'd have thought her so fly?’

a1375—2002(Hide quotations)


 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 A. 2f, Phrases 7.

OE   Ælfric Homily: De Populo Israhel (Hatton 115) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1968) II. 641   Nu wylle we git secgan sum ðing be ðam folce.
?c1225  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 141   Þet nis naut to seggen.
a1425  (?a1400)    G. Chaucer Romaunt Rose (Hunterian) (1891) l. 2533   If thou..woldist seyn thre thingis or mo Thou shalt full scarsly seyn the two.
a1470   T. Malory Morte Darthur (Winch. Coll. 13) (1990) II. 540   Ever sir Trystram spake fayre and seyde lytyll.
1556   J. Heywood Spider & Flie xcii   Saith as those honest saie: or saith nothing.
1576   A. Fleming tr. Cicero in Panoplie Epist. 18   Why you ought not to haue beleeued such rumors, I wil say something.
1602   R. Marbecke Def. Tabacco Ded. sig. A2   Mvch here is said, Tabacco to defend, And much was said, Tabacco to disgrace.
1638   J. Milton Lycidas in Obsequies 23 in Justa Edouardo King   Besides what the grimme wolf with privy paw Daily devoures apace, and little said.
1712   R. Steele Spectator 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 Life Johnson I. 180   Warburton..has a rage for saying something, when there's nothing to be said.
1795   Gentleman's Mag. 65 542/2   A good deal has been said already in your Magazine in praise of Dr. Berkeley.
1832   W. Scott Redgauntlet (new ed.) I. xi. 181   He..said things that garr'd folk's flesh grue.
1895   Daily News 25 Jan. 5/3   The Judge..has been saying some severe things on the subject of distraining bailiffs.
1896   Standard 15 Jan. 7/2   He said much, but told little, at to-day's meeting.
1959   A. Sillitoe Loneliness of Long-distance Runner 67   He stood speechless. He wanted to say so many things but the words would not come to his lips.
1965   New Statesman 14 May 760/3   ‘Did you say something, man?’ the face asked.
2001   J. Wolcott Catsitters xli. 266   Did Claudia say anything else about what she's doing acting-wise?

OE—2001(Hide quotations)


 c. transitive. With word, phrase, †saw, etc., as object. Cf. to say a few words at Phrases 7g.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.

OE   Ælfric Let. to Sigeweard (De Veteri et Novo Test.) (Laud) 57   Be þam ic wille secgan sume feawa word.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily in A. O. Belfour 12th Cent. Homilies in MS Bodl. 343 (1909) 136   Þe ðe tallice word sæð [OE Vitell. C.v cwyð] onȝean ðone Haliȝ Gast..næf[ð] he næfre þærof forȝyfenesse.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Margaret (Bodl.) (1934) 20 (MED)   Ne wraðþe þu þe, mi wunne, for sahe þet ich segge.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 13149   Heore ærnde heo him cudde; ælc his saȝe sæide.
c1300  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Otho) (1963) l. 5698   He stod vp a-non-riht and þeos word saide. Hercne me min louerd.
a1375  (c1350)    William of Palerne (1867) l. 2365 (MED)   Whan þat sawe was seid..þe prouost bad bold burnes þe beres go take.
c1430  (c1380)    G. Chaucer Parl. Fowls (Cambr. Gg.4.27) (1871) l. 126   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.].
a1450   York Plays (1885) 308   Therfore take hede..Þat none jangill nor jolle at my ȝate..Tille I haue seggid and saide all my sawe.
c1450  (c1415)    in W. O. Ross Middle Eng. Serm. (1940) 217 (MED)   Þese wordes þat I haue seide in Latyne, þei are wrytten in þe pistell of Seynt Poule.
?1505   tr. P. Gringore Castell of Laboure (new ed.) sig. Cv   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 Diana 282   Harke but one worde that I shall say vnto thee.
1681   J. Dryden Absalom & Achitophel 22   Few words he said; but..those..More slow than Hybla drops, and far more sweet.
a1714   J. Sharp 18 Serm. (1716) xi. 275   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 Sentimental Journey II. 98   [She], without saying a word, took out her little hussive, threaded a small needle, and sewed it up.
1803   Duke of Wellington Dispatches (1837) II. 8   Not a word is said of the supposed irruption of Holkar.
1869   ‘M. Harland’ Phemie's Temptation vii. 143   Mr. Hart said a phrase of polite acquiescence.
1911   Z. Grey Young Pitcher 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 We shall rise Again 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   N.Y. Mag. 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!

OE—2014(Hide quotations)


 d. intransitive. To make a statement or utterance (with the content understood from context or by implication).Frequently in Phrases 10a, Phrases 10e(c).

1909   Friend 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 Let. May (1987) 497   Thank you for saying about Llewelyn.
1990   J. P. Donleavy That Darcy 172   Thank you dear boy. Kind of you to say.
2014   J. Bishop Refuse to Forget 243   ‘She wrote about you several times. She admired you.’ I didn't believe it but it was good of her to say.

1909—2014(Hide quotations)


 a. intransitive. To speak; to say something; to make a speech, statement, or comment. In later use only in past tenses in narrative poetry. Now archaic and rare (poetic).

OE   Ælfric Homily (Cambr. Ii.4.6) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1967) I. 487   Embe eorðlice þing he sæde þam Iudeiscum, þa ða he him sæde be his sylfes ðrowunge.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 2071   Þe Dunwale hauede isæd [c1300 Otho iseid] al his folc luuede þene ræd.
c1405  (c1395)    G. Chaucer Merchant's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 277   Be pacient I preye [S] yn ye han seyd.
c1450   King Ponthus (Digby) in Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc. Amer. (1897) 12 80 (MED)   He excused hym to sey, bot the kyng commaunded hym to sey.
1525   Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart Cronycles II. ccxxxiii. 722   Whan he had sayd, then he was aunswered, howe the pope shulde take counsayle to answere.
1600   T. Nashe Summers Last Will sig. Ij   Loe, I haue said, this is the totall summe.
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost v. 872   He said, and as the sound of waters deep Hoarce murmur echo'd to his words applause.  View more context for this quotation
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost ix. 664   She scarse had said, though brief, when now more bold The Tempter..New part puts on.  View more context for this quotation
1697   J. Dryden tr. Virgil Georgics iv, in tr. Virgil Wks. 144   She said, and from his Eyes the fleeting Fair Retir'd like subtile Smoke dissolv'd in Air.  View more context for this quotation
1757   W. Wilkie Epigoniad i. 24   He said. The chiefs with indignation burn'd; And Diomed submitting thus return'd.
a1771   T. Gray tr. T. Tasso in Wks. (1814) II. 91   Scarce had he said, before the warriors' eyes When mountain-high the waves disparted rise.
1822   W. Tennant Thane of Fife i. xvii. 11   He scarce had said, when in the orient heaven,..The canopy of stormy clouds was riven Into a luminous disclosing rent.
1906   C. M. Doughty Dawn in Brit. III. xi. 138   He said; and, with loud battle-cry; he hurled Them, from his saddle-bow, down-forth! on green grass.

OE—1906(Hide quotations)


 b. intransitive. 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 Pastoral Care (Hatton) (1871) xxvi. 185   Ðonne mon ðonne ongiete ðæt..he wene ðæt he ryht be oðrum gedemed hæbbe, ðonne secge him mon suiðe gedæftelice for his agnum scyldum.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 72   He ne sæde na riht.
a1250  (?c1200)    Prov. Alfred (Maidstone) (1955) 107   Þer me him faire bi-hath, seȝeþ him faire bi-fore, & fokel attende.
a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1871) III. 239   ‘Þou seist wel’, quod þat oþer.
a1450  (?1419–20)    Friar Daw's Reply (Digby) l. 112 in P. L. Heyworth Jack Upland (1968) 76   Iak, þou seist ful serpentli.
a1450   in J. Kail 26 Polit. Poems (1904) 103 (MED)   I wole be mendid ȝif y say mys.
c1450  (c1400)    Sowdon of Babylon (1881) l. 472   Beter myghte no man seyne.
a1470   T. Malory Morte Darthur (Winch. Coll. 13) (1990) I. 313   Syn hit lykyth you to sey thus fayre unto me, wote ye well hit gladdyth myne herte gretly.
1487  (a1380)    J. Barbour Bruce (St. John's Cambr.) vii. 258   ‘Sa ȝhe suthly?’ ‘Ȝha, certis, dame’.
a1500  (?c1450)    Merlin ii. 35   Thou seiste trewe.
1567   T. Harman Caueat for Commen Cursetors (new ed.) sig. Fiii   And was not this a good acte, nowe howe saye you.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Merry Wives of Windsor (1623) ii. i. 204   Thou shalt haue egresse and regresse, (said I well?) and thy name shall be Broome.
1697   J. Dryden tr. Virgil Georgics iv, in tr. Virgil Wks. 144   For seven continu'd Months, if Fame say true, The wretched Swain his Sorrows did renew.  View more context for this quotation
1785   Liberal Amer. 1 47   I find Sir Edward Hambden is with you, and, if fame say true, a charming fellow he is.
1835   Monthly Repository 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 Festus (ed. 10) xxi. 319   Let none who say false Ever strike the gold string.
1924   W. Gillette Electricity ii. 79   You say true! I am aware why she's here.
a1963   S. Plath Crystal Gazer (1971) 55   We'll take Whatever trial's to come, so say true.

eOE—a1963(Hide quotations)


 c. intransitive. 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.

a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) 798 (MED)   Her egain mai naman sai.
a1425  (c1333–52)    L. Minot Poems (1914) 7   And þare he made his mone playne Þat no man suld say þare ogayne.
1490   W. Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) vii. 162   As he wolde have sayd agenst the duke Naymes, there cam a yonge gentilman [etc.].
1523   Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart Cronycles I. xxx. 44   None durst say agaynst his opynion.
1558   Inverness Sheriff Court f. 38, in Dict. Older Sc. Tongue (at cited word)   Na parte comperit to obiect nor say in contrar the personis of inqueist.
1609   J. Skene tr. Regiam Majestatem i. f. 12v   Alswa gif some of them sayes for ane partie, and some for ane other.
c1626   H. Bisset Rolment Courtis (1920) I. 286   The judge sall gar raise ane unlaw..of ilk soyttoure that sayd with the dome that is falsed.
1709   D. Manley Secret Mem. (ed. 2) II. 170   My Lady herself can't say against it.
1889   H. Johnston Chron. Glenbuckie 43   I wouldna say again' a body o' men takin' pikes and guns..just to fricht the government.
1899   West Cumberland Times 28 Jan. 3/2   ‘They knew your business.’ ‘I cannot say for that.’
1926   Aberdeen Univ. Rev. July 227   A wull say wi' 'e i' that.
1957   People's Jrnl. (Aberdeen) 6 Apr.   Ah c'u'd dae nae ither than say wi' 'em.

a1400—1957(Hide quotations)


 d. intransitive. 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 Anglia (1905) 28 269 (MED)   Thou seith of hem evir wele.
a1470   T. Malory Morte Darthur (Winch. Coll. 13) (1990) III. 1229   Thus was kynge Arthur depraved, and euyll seyde off.
a1500  (?a1400)    Tale King Edward & Shepherd (Cambr.) (1930) l. 147 (MED)   Þou seist þerof right well.
1547   Certain Serm. or Homilies Of Contention i. sig. T j b   Saie well by them, that saie euill by you.
1551   R. Robinson in tr. T. More Vtopia Epist. sig. ✠vv   Them, which can say well by nothing.
1631   E. Reeve Christian Divinitie lxxxvi. 305   To blesse and say well of them that curse him.
1659   T. Palmer Little View of Old World 156   Some Historians say well of him, some say ill, but it appears hee continued seventeen years.
1713   J. Swift Jrnl. to Stella 16 May (1948) II. 668   Your new Bp acts very ungratefully, I cannot say so bad of it as he deserved.
1851   H. Crosby Lands of Moslem 131   His looks are not at all prepossessing, and report says badly of his character.
1895   A. F. Johnston Joel 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 Growth & Decline French Monarchy i. 11   To be a man and even a king of his word, to speak the truth and never say ill of another.
2005   NPR: Fresh Air (transcript of radio programme) (Nexis) 27 Jan.   A conservative who..adheres to the other Republican principles and Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, ‘Thou shalt not say ill of another Republican.’

1445—2005(Hide quotations)


 5. intransitive. In imperative. Introducing a direct question: tell me, tell us. In early use often with the person addressed as indirect object (originally in the dative). Now poetic.In later use often distinguishable only by register from examples of the modern, colloquial interjection (see sense B.) that introduce a question.

OE   tr. Chrodegang of Metz Regula Canonicorum (Corpus Cambr. 191) lx. 295   Saga, þu druncena, saga me [L. dic mihi, dic, ebrie], lifast þu, þe þu eart mid deaðe gehefgod?
lOE   Prose Dialogue of Solomon & Saturn I (1982) xviii. 29   Saga me hu lange worhte men Noes earce.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 10292   Seȝȝ uss. arrt tu profete.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Katherine (Royal) (1981) 1022   Sei, þu sathanesses sune,..hwet constu to þeos men þet tu þus leadest?
a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1872) IV. 303   Sey me, ȝonge man, was þy moder ever in Rome?
c1390  (?a1350)    Trental St. Gregory (Vernon(1)) l. 87 in C. Horstmann Minor Poems Vernon MS (1892) i. 263 (MED)   Sey me, modur, wiþ-outen feyne, Whi art þou put to al þis peyne?
a1425  (c1333–52)    L. Minot Poems (1914) 35   Say now, sir Iohn of France how saltou fare?
1586   C. Marlowe Tamburlaine: 1st Pt. ii. v   Why say theridamas, wilt thou be a king?
a1616   W. Shakespeare Antony & Cleopatra (1623) ii. iii. 15   Say to me, whose Fortunes shall rise higher Cæsars or mine?  View more context for this quotation
a1616   W. Shakespeare King John (1623) ii. i. 335   Say, shall the currant of our right rome on.  View more context for this quotation
a1616   W. Shakespeare King Lear (1623) ii. ii. 312   Say? How is that?
a1644   F. Quarles Shepheards Oracles (1646) ix   Say, do you eat and grind it,..Or like an unchew'd Pill, but swallow't down?
1712   R. Blackmore Creation iii. 123   Did..Raphael's Pencil never chuse to fall? Say, are his Works Transfigurations all?
a1771   T. Gray Agrippina in Poems (1775) 131   Tell me! say, This mighty emperor,..Has he beheld the glittering front of war?
1814   F. S. Key Star-spangled Banner 7   O! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free?
1896   A. E. Housman Shropshire Lad xxiv. 35   Say, lad, have you things to do?
1909   A. J. Lockhart End of Song in Birds of Cross 11   Of song's divine succession sweet, Say, can there ever be an end?
1996   Q. Troupe Avalanche ii. 95   O say can you see the blood flowing bright as red stoplights people speed through every day.

OE—1996(Hide quotations)


 a. transitive. To utter, speak out loud (an utterance or discourse of a particular kind), e.g. to deliver (a message, a speech, a sermon), to relate, recount (a story, a tale), to tell (a joke).Relatively uncommon in modern English, where the different types of utterance are typically associated with different specific verbs.

eOE   King Ælfred tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. (Otho) (2009) I. xvi. 451   Þa ongon he eft seggan spell and cwæð.
OE   Blickling Homilies 103   On eallum tidum secggan we him þanc ealra his miltsa.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 2494 (MED)   Vre fader..or he was dead, Vs he ðis bodewurd seigen bead.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Luke xii. 41   Seist thou this parable to vs, ether to alle?
c1405  (c1390)    G. Chaucer Man of Law's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) Prol. l. 46   But nathelees certein I kan right now no thrifty tale seyn.
c1450  (?a1400)    Wars Alexander (Ashm.) l. 5551   And oþir sellis he saȝe at sai wald he neuir.
1463   in S. Tymms Wills & Inventories Bury St. Edmunds (1850) 17   Item I wyll that Maistr Thomas Harlowe sey the sermon at my interment.
1490   W. Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) xxiv. 526   And whan the kyng simon herde mawgis speke so, he said him grete thanke.
a1525  (▸1498)    Coventry Leet Bk. (1909) III. 589   There was a solempne sermon seyde, where the Maire there satte betwixt both presidentes.
1568   V. Skinner tr. R. González de Montes Discouery Inquisition of Spayne f. 96   He began to say hys message soberly.
1657   T. Burton Diary (1828) I. 334   Mr. Caryl only prayed, the other two preached, and very good sermons they said.
1822   Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. June 713/2   I cannot tell how many speeches were said, for there were so many.
1858   J. Jolliffe Chattanooga xxi. 186   Mr. Giles said he didn't believe Mr. Strong ever said a joke in all his life.
1944   C. Jackson Lost Weekend v. 184   The mayor said a speech from the bunting-draped platform and someone read a prayer.
1989   A. Tan Joy Luck Club 41   They go back to eating their soft boiled peanuts, saying stories among themselves.
2004   G. Contopoulos Adventures in Order & Chaos lv. 176   Until the broken lamp was replaced he started saying jokes.

eOE—2004(Hide quotations)


b. transitive. To compose (a piece of writing). Obsolete.

a1475  (?a1430)    J. Lydgate tr. G. Deguileville Pilgrimage Life Man (Vitell.) l. 150 (MED)   My wrytyng..ys al yseyd vnder correcion.
1488  (c1478)    Hary Actis & Deidis Schir William Wallace (Adv.) (1968–9) xii. l. 1214   Master Barbour, quhilk was a worthi clerk, He said the Bruce amang his othir werk.

a1475—1488(Hide quotations)


 a. transitive. To recite or speak the words of (a prayer, a religious service, an office, etc.). Sometimes, esp. in later use, with the implication of recitation from memory, as opposed to reading. Frequently in established collocations, as to say grace (see grace n. 11), to say mass (see mass n.1 1a), to say a prayer, to say one's prayers, etc.Say is commonly used in contradistinction to sing (see, e.g., quot. a1400, and cf. also said adj. 2   and sung adj.), but sometimes, esp. in early use, the two words are used equivalently to refer to the intoning of prayers and services, the singing of hymns and psalms, etc. (see e.g. quot. a1387).

OE   Rule St. Benet (Corpus Cambr.) ix. 34   Æfter þam fylige capitel of þæra apostola lare gemyndelice butan bec gesæd.
OE   Rule St. Benet (Tiber.) (1888) xviii. 48   Deinde prima hora dominica die dicenda quattuor capitula psalmi centissimi octavi decimi : syððan on ðære forman tida on sunnan dæge die to secgenne feower cwydas psalmi þæs hunteontiga & eahtateoðan sealmas.
a1200   MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 17 (MED)   Ich wille..segge ou þe crede word after word.
?c1225  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 23   On þisse wise ȝe maȝen ȝef ȝe wulleð seggen oure Pater nosteres.
a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1871) III. 7   Dauid..made..instrumentis of musik, in whiche þe dekenes schulde seie ympnes and songes.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) 28248 (MED)   Ic for-soke oft to kyrk at ga..My prayers say was me ful lathe.
1415   in F. J. Furnivall Fifty Earliest Eng. Wills (1882) 23   That ther be x. Ml. masses Isayde for me of gode prestes.
c1450   tr. G. Deguileville Pilgrimage Lyfe Manhode (Cambr.) (1869) 82   The gospel that j haue herd seyd [Fr. chanter] in oure toun.
1544   Letanie in Exhort. vnto Prayer sig. Biiiv   That whiche is printed in blacke letters, is to be sayde or songe of the priest.
?1545   H. Rhodes Bk. Nurture sig. B.iiv   And whyle grace is saynge, se ye make no noyse.
c1616   S. Ward Coal from Altar (1627) 74   Sermons..so deliuered, as if one were acting a part, or saying a lesson by heart.
1641   J. Trapp Theologia Theol. viii. 307   They could not say Psalmes..by heart.
1710   tr. B. Telles Trav. Jesuits in Ethiopia iii. x. 242   We restore you the Faith of your Fore-Fathers. The former Clergy-Men may return to their Churches, put in their Tabotes, and say Masses.
1740   S. Richardson Pamela I. xxix. 105   I begun..to say the Lord's Prayer. None of your Beads to me, Pamela, said he, thou art a perfect Nun.
1832   W. Palmer Origines Liturg. I. 244   Collects to be said at matins and evensong.
1861   M. Pattison in Westm. Rev. Apr. 415   The Germans..had their own masses said in it [sc. this church] on special days.
1883   J. Gilmour Among Mongols xviii. 212   In the act of disrobing, prayers are said most industriously.
1922   C. Kerr Cecil Marchioness of Lothian xv. 228   Dr Talbot said Mass in her room and she was given the last rites of the Church.
1971   L. Beckwith About my Father's Business (1973) x. 118   At refreshment time when the minister told us to bow our heads while he said grace..my mouth was already crammed full of cake.
2012   Church Times 27 July 8/2   Prayers were said in churches across the country for the victims.

OE—2012(Hide quotations)


b. intransitive. To recite a religious service, office, etc.; esp. to say mass. Obsolete.Usually in relation to Roman Catholic worship.

a1400  (?c1300)    Lay Folks Mass Bk. (Royal) (1879) l. 27   When þo preste saies he, or if he singe, to him þou gyue gode herknynge.
1558   Q. Kennedy Compendius Tractiue xiv. sig. F.vv   He can nolder sing nor say.
1607   E. Topsell Hist. Foure-footed Beastes 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 Publ. Catholic Rec. Soc. (1933) 33 113   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 Diary (1952) v. 80   I served Mr Aldred ye first time he sayed in his new Chappell.
1787   W. Mawhood Diary 20 May (1956) 252   Sun. 20 May. all at Hampsted. Mr. M'ackarty said.
1790   E. Burke Refl. Revol. in France 236   They are as usefully employed as those who neither sing nor say .  View more context for this quotation

a1400—1790(Hide quotations)


 c. transitive. gen. To recite or repeat (a text or set of words of prescribed form), esp. from memory.

?a1400  (a1338)    R. Mannyng Chron. (Petyt) (1996) i. 93   I see in song, in sedgeyng tale of Erceldoun & of Kendale: Non þam says as þai þam wroght, & in þer sayng it semes noght.
a1425  (?c1375)    N. Homily Legendary (Harl.) in C. Horstmann Altengl. Legenden (1881) 2nd Ser. 67   Þan to þe body he made him boun And sayd þore his coniurisoun.
a1500  (?a1400)    Firumbras (1935) l. 124 (MED)   To chambyr he come, hys wycchecraft to sayn..he put in hys honde; the charme was sayde.
1530   Myroure Oure Ladye (Fawkes) (1873) ii. 278   From passyon sonday tyl Esterne. ye saye the story of the fryday.
1602   J. Marston Hist. Antonio & Mellida Induct. sig. A3   Faith, we can say our parts.
1640   in H. Paton Dundonald Parish Rec. (1936) 465   They who learns Latein most have a pense of that quhilk they have learned before to saye everie morning.
1727   W. Somervile Occas. Poems 222   The silent, serious, solid Boy,..Constru'd, and pars'd, and said his Part.
1792   Child's Instructor 46   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 Birds of Passage i. ix   Ye are better than all the ballads That ever were sung or said.
1888   E. Marshall Alma (1889) viii. 80   Now she is making him say his Latin grammar; no, I think it is his poetry.
1974   J. L. Shore What's Matter with Wakefield? vi. 65   While he worked, he said his times tables to himself.
2011   K. G. Lundy & L. Swartz Creating Caring Classrooms 82   Students work with a partner to play Pat-a-Cake as they say the poem together.

?a1400—2011(Hide quotations)

 8. transitive. Also intransitive with as or so, thus (cf. senses A. 1b, A. 3a(b)). Usually in the present tense.

 a. it says: there is (a particular comment or form of words, or certain information) contained in a piece of writing, text, etc. Frequently with the source specified with in, on. Also occasionally in passive. Cf. it pron. 3f.In early use also impersonal (e.g. quots. OE1, c1275).

OE   Blickling Homilies 41   Þonne sægþ on þissum bocum þæt Drihten sylf cwæde [etc.].
OE   Homily: Be rihtan Cristendome (Hatton 113) in A. S. Napier Wulfstan (1883) 146   Hit segð eac on halgum bocum, þæt an deofol arehte anum ancran ealle hellegryras.
c1175  (▸OE)    Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 136   Nu hit swa cuðlice on þissum godspellicæn lare sæȝð þæt ðe wariȝede deofel hine þær swa openlice costniæn ongon.
c1230  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Corpus Cambr.) (1962) 94   For hwen ha is ipruet, hit seið ha schal beon icrunet mid te crune of lif.
c1275  (?c1250)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) l. 1072 (MED)   Wel fiȝt þat wel specþ, seiþ in þe songe.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 8818 (MED)   Þus þai fanded it tre dais, Als it in þe stori sais.
a1425   Rule St. Benet (Lansd.) (1902) 9   Als yure maistiresse leris yu, als it sais: ‘Qui uos audit [etc.]’.
1535   W. Marshall tr. Marsilius of Padua Def. of Peace xxviii. f. 120v   The glose, where it saythe [etc.].
1595   M. Mosse Arraignm. Usurie iii. 60   That same Empusa, of whom it is saide in Aristophanes..She seemeth euery thing.
1622   F. Rous Dis. of Time xiv. 300   It sayes, God can bee represented by colours, or that hee is visible to the Eye, and so makes vs beleeue we see what indeed cannot be seene.
a1688   J. Bunyan Acceptable Sacrifice (1689) 92   As it says in another place, Out of the Deep, out of the Belly of Hell Cryed I.
1758   Scots Mag. Mar. 150/1   Whose tomb is this? It says, 'tis Myra's tomb.
1780   Mirror No. 75 (1787) III. 6   In the very next paragraph it is said, ‘We have the pleasure of informing the Public [etc.]’.
1795   Freemasons' Mag. June 395/2   In the Leyden Gazette, Dec. 26, 1794, it says [etc.].
1840   K. H. Digby Mores Catholici x. vii. 171   In Saxon histories... Thus it says.
1894   ‘R. Andom’ We Three & Troddles xv. 130   Giants are always wicked people. It says so in the children's books.
1900   B. Pain Eliza 54   ‘You told me it was port!’ ‘So it is.’ ‘It says tonic port on the label.’
1977   S. Brett Star Trap xii. 134   ‘Christopher Milton is thirty-eight, at least.’ ‘But it says in the programme—’ ‘Charles, Charles, you've been in the business too long to be so naïve.’
2012   S. Townsend Woman who went to Bed for Year xxxv. 230   It says here that your mother went to the Department of Work and Pensions.., and asked for a crisis loan.

OE—2012(Hide quotations)


 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) lxiv, in Anglia (1884) 7 46   Seo oþer boc Exodus segð þæt hi ferdon of Egyptalanda on þære fiftan mægðe.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 72   Þa halȝa Cristes boc, þe sæð hu þe manfulle..hine sceortlice ðus ibed.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 255   Þiss goddspell seȝȝþ þatt sannt iohan Wass [etc.].
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 248 (MED)   Sobrete is a traw wel precious..ase sayþ þe writinge.
a1450   in J. Evans & M. S. Serjeantson Eng. Mediaeval Lapidaries (1933) 27 (MED)   The bible seith þat onicle was in þe fourth corner of the moce.
1561   in J. H. Burton Reg. Privy Council Scotl. (1877) 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 Burnynge of Paules Church 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   Perfect Weekly Acct. 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 Fables lxxiii. 73   Shew me the Company (says the Adage) and I'll tell ye the Man.
1730   J. Swift On Stephen Duck in Poems 115   The Proverb says; No Fence against a Flail.
1749   Conductor Generalis (ed. 2) 407   One under 14 Years old, such are, as our Law says, not arrived at Discretion.
1830   Niles' Reg. 38 Suppl. 177/1   So the constitution says in so many words.
1854   H. B. Stowe Sunny Memories Foreign Lands 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   Congress. Rec. 31 Jan. 1368/2   A paper in Mississippi said it was sorry to see the campaign starting off with such acrimony.
1943   Boys' Life June 6/3   After all, as the Good Book says, ‘the laborer is worthy of his hire.’
1981   J. Blume Tiger Eyes viii. 40   I once read an article that said tickling is a form of torture.
2002   Wall St. Jrnl. 23 Oct. a12/5   Maritime law says all sovereign nations, even those without coastlines, can flag ships.

OE—2002(Hide quotations)


 c. Of a sign, notice, etc.: to bear (a specified instruction or message).

1918   Jewelers' Circular 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 Love on Supertax xi. 103   On the door..Clarissa found a notice saying, ‘Welfare Officer. Knock and enter.’
1989   Holiday Which? Sept. 169/4   Look out for signs saying Zimmer Frei.
2003   D. Awerbuck Gardening at Night (2004) 3   The water is..not fit for human consumption, as the sign says.

1918—2003(Hide quotations)

 a. To express the common or widespread belief that; to claim, assert, or maintain that (something) is the case; to report, allege.

 (a) transitive. In passive with non-referential it as subject and clause as complement. To be claimed, reported, or alleged.Sometimes without it, esp. (in later use) in parenthetic clauses after as.

OE   Blickling Homilies 65   Sægd is þæt hit sy wyrtruma ealra oþerra synna.
OE   tr. Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarium (Vitell.) (1984) clxxxiii. 230   Eac ys be þysse wyrte sæd þæt heo on geare twigea blowe.
a1275  (?c1200)    Prov. Alfred (Trin. Cambr.) (1955) 118   Hit is said in lede: Cold red is quene red.
c1430  (c1386)    G. Chaucer Legend Good Women (Cambr. Gg.4.27) (1879) l. 1167   Sche waylith & sche makith manye a breyde As don these loueris as I haue herd seyde.
1528   T. Wyatt tr. Plutarch Quyete of Mynde sig. a.ivv   Laertes lyueng twenty yeres in the countrey (as it is said) only with an olde woman to serue hym of his meate and drinke.
1549   M. Coverdale et al. tr. Erasmus Paraphr. Newe Test. II. Heb. vii. f. x   Melchisedech..who, as it is said, had neyther father, nor mother.
1637   News-lett. C. Rossingham in S. Gardiner Documents Proc. against W. Prynne (1877) 74   It is said that some messinger shall be forthwith sent to the Emperour.
1687   A. Lovell tr. J. de Thévenot Trav. into Levant i. ii. v. 134   It is said, that this Sphynx, so soon as the Sun was up, gave responses to any thing it was consulted about.
1710   R. Newcourt Repertorium Eccles. II. 79   It is said that the Vicarage-house standeth in a small pikle, containing about an acre.
1798   W. Garthshere in Paget Papers (1896) I. 140   Lady Cahir off with Sr J. Shelley—Lady Assia (as is said) do. in Ireland.
1804   W. Wordsworth Afflict. Margaret 20   If things ensued that wanted grace, As hath been said, they were not base.
1859   Ld. Tennyson Elaine in Idylls of King 155   We hear it said That men go down before your spear at a touch.
1861   M. Pattison in Westm. Rev. Apr. 415   It has been even said that this church was built by the Germans.
1908   R. Mellors In & About Notts. lxxxi. 440   It is said that the captains of the English navy were enjoying a game at bowls when the Spanish Armada hove in sight.
1962   I. Jennings Party Politics III. iii. 84   As has been said, the English Reformation was by origin a purely political movement.
2007   Guardian 14 Apr. 25/2   Online discourse, it is said, is characterised by personal insult, childish mudslinging,..pranksterish vandalism and empty threats.

OE—2007(Hide quotations)


 (b) transitive. In active use with an indefinite subject, as men, people, they (they pron. 3a), etc., and a clause as object. To claim, assert, maintain, report, or allege. Cf. as who saith (also say) at who pron. and n. Phrases 1a(a).

OE   tr. Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarium (Vitell.) (1984) lvii. 100   Þæs þe man sægð [?a1200 Harl. 6258B seȝð], þa swin þe hyre wyrttruman etað þæt hy beon butan milten gemette.
?a1160   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1137   Hi sæden openlice ðat Crist slep & his halechen.
a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) Prol. l. 56 (MED)   Men sein it [sc. the world] is now lassed, In worse plit than it was tho.
1440   J. Capgrave Life St. Norbert (1977) l. 908   This man was vsed to grete fasting, þei sayn.
a1529   J. Skelton Colyn Cloute (?1545) sig. D.vv   It is to drede men sayes Lest they be seduces As they be sayd sayne.
a1585   P. Hume Flyting with Montgomerie (Tullibardine) iv. 51 in Poems A. Montgomerie (2000) I. 159   Thow wes begottin, sum sayis to me, Betuix þe devill and ane duin kow.
1644   R. Symonds Diary (1859) 48   A castle, belonging say they to a duke.
1710   J. Swift Jrnl. to Stella 9 Sept. (1948) I. 8   The duke of Ormond, they say, will be lieutenant of Ireland.
1785   W. Cowper Task i. 60   But elbows still were wanting; these, some say, An alderman of Cripplegate contriv'd.
1846   J. B. Morris Let. in M. Pattison Memoirs 222   People say that converts are ‘cocky’.
1903   W. D. Howells Lett. Home iii. 20   They say that New-Yorkers never meet each other on the street.
a1974   G. Heyer My Lord John (1977) i. v. 88   People say he would have made a better merchant than a Churchman.
2013   Daily Record (Glasgow) (Nexis) 12 June 28   They say you should never meet your heroes—they'll only leave you disappointed.

OE—2013(Hide quotations)


 (c) transitive. spec. Used as a formula to introduce a proverb or proverbial expression. Also intransitive in parenthetic phrase with as.

lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1130   Man seið to biworde: hæge sitteð þa aceres dæleth.
c1300   Havelok (Laud) (1868) l. 647 (MED)   Soth it is, þat men seyt and suereth: ‘Þer god wile helpen, nouth no dereth.’
a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) Prol. l. 335   Bot it is seid and evere schal, Betwen tuo Stoles lyth the fal.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 4507 (MED)   For lang was said, and yeit sua bes, ‘Hert sun for-gettes þat ne ei seis’.
?1532   T. Paynell tr. Erasmus De Contemptu Mundi 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 Hauen of Health cxcii. 150   And as it is saide a good Cooke can make you good meate of a whetstone.
1658   E. Ashmole Way to Bliss iii. i. 167   Soon Ripe, soon Rotten, as they say, an ill Weed grows apace, and so forth.
1731   Robin's Panegyrick: Pt. II. 7   'Twill be mere Woman's Work, never done, as they say.
c1771   S. Foote Maid of Bath i. 22   Folks may go farther and fare worse, as they say.
1854   S. Smith 'Way down East viii. 166   As it is said, ‘there are more ways than one to skin a cat.’
1929   G. K. Chesterton Poet & Lunatics iii. 64   They say travel broadens the mind; but you must have the mind.
2013   Sc. Sun (Nexis) 31 Dec. 7   There may be confrontation, but as they say, you can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs.

lOE—2013(Hide quotations)

 b. With complement, usually (and now only) an infinitive.

 (a) transitive. 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. eOE   with that-clause, in a perhaps unidiomatic rendering of the infinitive of the Latin source.

eOE   tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (Tanner) iv. xxvii. 360   Se wæs sægd, þæt he his broðor wære [L. qui frater eius..esse dicebatur].
a1425  (?c1400)    J. Wyclif Sel. Eng. Wks. (1871) III. 102 (MED)   On þe þrydde manere is holy Churche yseyd to be disposed.
c1425   tr. J. Arderne Treat. Fistula (Sloane 6) (1910) 69 (MED)   Ane emplastre of þe white of ane rawe ey and oile..is seid wonderfully for to be mitigatiue.
c1460   in A. Clark Eng. Reg. Oseney Abbey (1907) 112   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.].
a1500  (?a1425)    tr. Secreta Secret. (Lamb.) 52 (MED)   Olde men louyn swylk a kynge, and he ys sayd vertuous, large, and attempre.
1568   F. Knollys Let. 28 June in Antiquarian Repertory (1779) II. 168   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 Relation of Journey 152   This is said to haue hapned..about the time that the Judges began to governe in Israel.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Coriolanus (1623) iv. v. 232   As warres in some sort may be saide to be a Rauisher, so..peace is a great maker of Cuckolds.  View more context for this quotation
1706   Phillips's New World of Words (new ed.)    Imp, a familiar Spirit, said to be attending upon Witches.
1770   G. von Engeström & E. M. da Costa tr. A. F. Cronstedt Ess. Syst. Mineral. 124   Red manganese is said to be found in Piedmont.
1803   H. Davy in Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 93 252   Catechu is said to be obtained from the wood of a species of the Mimosa.
1846   J. Lindley Veg. Kingdom 727   The fruit of Rhizophora Mangle is said to be sweet and edible.
1928   Washington Post 21 Dec. 1/6   The man,..of no fixed address, is said to have admitted a number of robberies.
1961   Aeroplane 100 510/3   Russia's long-range space programme is said to include sending two spaceships to the Moon by 1967.
2006   Metro 12 June (London ed.) 19/3   The foppish ghost of the legendary poet..is said to haunt the halls of Newstead Abbey in Nottingham.
2007   Independent 19 Feb. (Extra section) 4/1   Bee venom..is said to be effective in treating rheumatic diseases.

eOE—2007(Hide quotations)


(b) transitive. 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. 1585) intransitive with reflexive meaning: to claim that one is the specified thing; to profess to be.

OE   Guthlac A 119   Oþer him þas eorþan ealle sægde læne under lyfte.
OE   Blickling Homilies 173   Ealle æfæste men onscunodan Simon þone dry, & hie hine scyldigne sægdon.
a1382   Prefatory Epist. St. Jerome in Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1959) 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.
a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1969) Isa. v. 20   Wo þat seyn [L. dicitis] euel good & good euel.
a1450  (c1395)    Prefatory Epist. St. Jerome in Bible (Wycliffite, L.V.) (New Coll. Oxf.) (1850) iv. 65   Perauenture we seien Petre to be lewide, and Joon to be lewide.
c1450   Speculum Christiani (Harl. 6580) (1933) 148 (MED)   Wo to ȝou that seis gud thynges to ben euyl thynges!
1563   J. Shute First Groundes Archit. sig. Fi   Whiche oure Author hath brought to a vniformity, saying the piller to be in height .9. Diameters.
1583   W. Fulke Def. Transl. Script. 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 Nauigations Turkie 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 Lett. conc. Relig. (1651) 53   Papias, whom St. Jerome..sayes to have been the first Authour of it [Millenarianism].
1707   E. Ward Wooden World Dissected 42   It were great Malice, to say him to be a Man of no Principles.

OE—1707(Hide quotations)


 a. intransitive. To give an account, report, or description of; to tell of; (sometimes) spec. to inform someone of. Frequently with the person addressed specified with to (or in early use in the dative). Obsolete.In Old English typically with by rather than of (cf. quot. OE).

OE   Blickling Homilies 117   Þonne gehyrdon we ær on þas halgan tide secgan be þære halgan þrowunga ures Drihtenes.
lOE   Prose Dialogue of Solomon & Saturn I (1982) xvii. 28   Saga me of sancta maria ylde.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Vesp. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 237   Of þeses fif ceþen..we habbeð ȝeu ȝesed.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 6722   Ich wulle suggen [c1300 Otho telle] eow uorð-rihtes of mire muchele sorȝen.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 16   Uerst we willeþ zigge of þe zenne of prede.
?a1425   Mandeville's Trav. (Egerton) (1889) 37   A kirk, whare þe aungell said to þe schephirdes of þe birth of Criste.
c1450   C. d'Orleans Poems (1941) 28 (MED)   They naue tyme nor metyng To say ther ladies of ther aduersite.
?c1450   Life St. Cuthbert (1891) l. 1362   Bosyl come, and to him say Of cuthbert purpose and his will.
a1533   Ld. Berners tr. A. de Guevara Golden Bk. M. Aurelius (1546) sig. H.j   We haue saied of the hatred that this emperour had to trewandes.

OE—a1533(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive. To give an account of, describe; to make a report of; to tell of, speak about. Cf. sense A. 10a. Obsolete.Often contextually interpretable with more specific meanings, e.g. ‘reveal’ (see quot. c1350), ‘confess’ (see quot. c1450), ‘prophesy’ (see quot. c1470).

OE   Ælfric Lives of Saints (Julius) (1900) II. 404   Hit bið langsum to secganne ealle þa wundra þe he worhte on þam lande.
lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough interpolation) anno 1070   Hi herdon sæcgen þet se cyng heafde gifen þet abbot rice an Frencisce abbot, Turolde wæs gehaten.
?a1160   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1137   Nu we willen sægen sumdel wat belamp on Stephnes kinges time.
?c1225  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 201   Flesches lust is fot wunde as wes feor iseid þruppe.
1258   Proclam. Henry III in Trans. Philol. Soc. (1868–9) 21   Alse hit is biforen iseid.
c1350   Apocalypse St. John: A Version (Harl. 874) (1961) 3   Seint poule was rauisht in to þe þrid heuene & seiȝ þe priuetes of god þat it falleþ to noman to seien [v.r. tell].
c1390  (?c1350)    Joseph of Arimathie (1871) l. 70 (MED)   I am not worþi to seyn moni of his werkes.
c1400  (c1378)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Laud 581) (1869) B. xiii. l. 305 (MED)   Baldest of beggeres..in tauernes tales to telle, And segge þinge þat he neuere seigh.
1450   W. Lomnor in Paston Lett. & Papers (2004) II. 35   I..am right sory of that I shalle sey.
c1450  (c1400)    Bk. Vices & Virtues (Huntington) (1942) 176 (MED)   Þe synful man or womman scholde schryue hym holliche..for þei schulle seye alle here synnes.
c1470   tr. R. D'Argenteuil's French Bible (Cleveland) (1977) 49 (MED)   Many oþir prophetis seiden and shewden the comyng of oure Lord.

OE—c1470(Hide quotations)


 c. transitive. To mention, make reference to; (sometimes) spec. to enumerate, list. Cf. said adj. 1. Obsolete.

OE   tr. Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarium (Harl. 585) (O.E.D. transcript) (1984) cxxxv. 176   Hy habbað of [OE Vitell. on] eallon ðingon gelice mihte ongean þa ðincg ðe we her beforan sædon [?a1200 Harl. 6258B sæden].
?c1225  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 256   Lichte gultes beteð þus ananrich [read richt] bi ow seoluen. & þach seggeð ham inschrift.
a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1963) 1 Kings ix. 17   Lo þe man þat I seide to þee, þis schal lordschipyn to þe puple.
c1400  (c1378)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Laud 581) (1869) 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. (Douce 60) in G. Kristensson John Mirk's Instr. Parish Priests (1974) 107 (MED)   We..dampne into þe peyn of helle Al þo that haue don thes articles that we haue seid bifore.
c1540  (?a1400)    Gest Historiale Destr. Troy (2002) f. 81   The same yle I said you Cicill is calt.

OE—c1540(Hide quotations)

 11. transitive. To call or refer to by a specified name or description; to designate, define, or categorize as. Chiefly in passive.In this sense hight v.1, name v., nemn v., and queath v.   are all more common in Old English.

a. With noun, adjective, or participle as complement. Obsolete.rare in Old English.

OE   Rule St. Benet (Tiber.) (1888) ii. 11   Abba..semper meminisse debet quod dicitur et nomen majoris factis implere : se abbud..gemunon sceal þæt he is gesæd & naman..mid dædum..gefyllan.
a1382   Prefatory Epist. St. Jerome in Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1959) i. l. 15   Ytaly, þe whych sumtyme was Isayde [L. dicebatur] grete grece.
a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) i. l. 585   The ferste is seid Ypocrisie.
1484   W. Caxton tr. Subtyl Historyes & Fables Esope v. xiv   None ought to say hym self mayster withoute that he haue fyrst studyed.
a1500  (▸1422)    J. Yonge tr. Secreta Secret. (Rawl.) (1898) 201   Prayer othyrwhyle is sadyn a good worke.
1530   Myroure Oure Ladye (Fawkes) (1873) ii. 267   The doughters of Syon haue sene her and they haue sayde her blyssed.
1541   T. Elyot Image of Gouernance xxviii. f. 65   I say you most victorious people, branches of Romulus, subduers of realmes.
1589   G. Puttenham Arte Eng. Poesie ii. iii. 58   According to the number of the sillables contained in euery verse, the same is sayd a long or short meeter.
a1617   P. Baynes Entire Comm. Epist. Paul to Ephesians (1643) 66   Thus all things are said created in or by Christ.
1628   E. Coke 1st Pt. Inst. Lawes Eng. 69   What shall be said a voyage royall shall be adjudged by the judges.
1652   J. Gaule Πυς-μαντια 277   And why must he needs make mention of the flesh; when as it was enough to say him mortall?
1690   J. Locke Ess. Humane Understanding ii. xxv. 150   The colour White, [is] the occasion why he is said whiter than Free-stone.

OE—1690(Hide quotations)


 b. With to be and a noun, adjective, participle, or phrase as complement. Cf. sense A. 9b(a).

?a1425   tr. Guy de Chauliac Grande Chirurgie (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 Pylgrimage of Perfeccyon (1531) 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 Fower Offices Horsemanshippe   The Horse is sayd to be styffled, when the styffling bone is remoued from his right place.
1671   J. Blagrave Astrol. Pract. Physick 165   A planet is said to be peregrine, when he is out of all essential dignities.
1769   W. Falconer Universal Dict. Marine   Knees are either said to be lodging or hanging.
1839   H. T. De la Beche Rep. Geol. Cornwall iii. 72   This patch may be said to be dove-tailed into its highest part.
1878   T. H. Huxley Physiography (ed. 2) ii. 21   Rocks which thus allow water to filter through them are said to be permeable.
1933   A. S. Eddington Expanding Universe ii. 57   No galaxy is more central than another, and none can be said to be at the outside.
2012   S. Seung Connectome xi. 190   As a mature adult, a zebra finch sings essentially the same song every time... The song is said to be ‘crystallized’.

?a1425—2012(Hide quotations)


 c. With infinitive (other than to be) as complement.

?1556   L. Digges Tectonicon 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 Horologiographia 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 Interpreter sig. Kk4/1   A thing is said to lie in graunte, which cannot be assigned with out deede.
1679   J. Moxon Mech. Exercises 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 Treat. Ship-building & Navigation 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 Chem. Org. Bodies 980   The trees are then said to bleed.
1899   F. Hooper & J. Graham Mod. Business Methods 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 Inorg. Chem. xxi. 238   The substances undergoing change are said to ‘burn’.
1963   Times 23 May 4/7   The British women can be said to have gate-crashed the semi-final round.
2004   P. Ball Crit. Mass (2005) ix. 263   They are said to ‘satisfice’ rather than to maximize.

?1556—2004(Hide quotations)


 a. transitive. Of a word or phrase: to mean, signify, esp. to be translated as. Also in passive: to be used with a specified meaning. Obsolete.After Old English only in passive, or in the infinitive as the complement of be, i.e. ‘— is to say’ is equivalent to ‘— means, signifies’. The latter construction merges in early modern English with the more general expression that is to say (see Phrases 2a(b)).In quot. 1530   intransitive with thus as complement.

OE   Ælfric Let. to Sigeweard (De Veteri et Novo Test.) (Laud) 37   Seo þridde ys gecweden Cantica Canticorum, þæt segð on Englisc ealra sanga fyrmest.
c1225  (?c1200)    Hali Meiðhad (Bodl.) (1940) 6 (MED)   Nim ȝeme hwet euch worð beo sunderliche to seggen.
c1390  (?c1350)    St. Ambrose l. 17 in C. Horstmann Sammlung Altengl. Legenden (1878) 8   Syos is to seyn ‘God’ riht, And ambrum good sauour pliht.
c1405  (c1390)    G. Chaucer Prioress's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 71   Nat wiste he what this latyn was to seye, For he so yong and tendre was of age.
c1425   J. Lydgate Troyyes Bk. (Augustus A.iv) ii. l. 5430 (MED)   Delos is in Greke no more to seyne Þan a schewyng or an apparence.
?a1450   in C. von Nolcken Middle Eng. Transl. Rosarium Theol. (1979) 55 (MED)   Absolucion or asoylyng is seide in þre maneres.
1530   Myroure Oure Ladye (Fawkes) (1873) 1st Prol. 1   These wordes are writen in holy scrypture & are thus to say in englyshe.
?1541   R. Copland Guy de Chauliac's Questyonary Cyrurgyens ii. sig. Kiij   Pigneum in Arabyke is to saye the ars hole.

OE—?1541(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive. In passive. With of. Of a word: to be derived from. Obsolete.

1340   Ayenbite (1866) 93   Vor of crayme is yzed crist and of crist cristendom.
?a1425   tr. Guy de Chauliac Grande Chirurgie (Hunterian) f. 35v (MED)   Þis word anothomia is seide of þis worde ano..and of þis worde thomas.
a1500  (?c1440)    J. Lydgate Horse, Goose & Sheep (Lansd.) l. 57 in Minor Poems (1934) ii. 541   Eques, ab 'equo,' is seid of verray riht, And cheualer is saide of cheualrye.
1597   G. Harvey Trimming T. Nashe To Rdr.   Lent (you know) is saide of leane, because it macerates & makes leane the bodye.

1340—1597(Hide quotations)


 13. transitive in passive. Of a word, syllable, etc.: to be pronounced in the specified way.Also occasionally in active use with passive meaning (see, e.g., quot. 1975).

1919   J. M. E. Hart Swords Drawn iv. 159   Pardon, mee lord—I' ave not ask yet 'ow eeze Lady Russmore? (Pardon is said as in French.)
1952   Bull. School Oriental & Afr. Stud. 14 58   Stressed syllables are said on a higher pitch than unstressed syllables.
1975   Lang. for Life (Dept. Educ. & Sci.) vi. 88   To teach a child that ‘kuh-a-tuh’ says ‘cat’ is to teach him something that is simply incorrect.
2005   J. Culpeper Hist. Eng. (ed. 2) iii. 29   The vowel [ε], as in bed for many speakers, is said with the tongue lower than [e].

1919—2005(Hide quotations)

 II. 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.
 a. To order, direct, or enjoin someone to (a specified course of action); to tell or command someone (to do something). Also in weaker sense: to urge, advise.

 (a) transitive with infinitive or (formerly) that-clause as object. In later use chiefly colloquial (originally U.S.).In early use typically with the person to whom the instruction is addressed as an indirect object (in the dative in Old English); in modern use with the person preceded by for or understood from the context.

OE   Blickling Homilies 47   Þæt hi secggan þæm Godes folce þæt hi Sunnandagum & mæssedagum Godes cyrican georne secan.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 4114   Sey him on ðin stede to gon.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 6063 (MED)   Says to mi folk on þiskin wis, þat þai me mak a sacrifice.
c1450   Jacob's Well (1900) 203   Þanne saye hem þat þei take of suche an hucche for þat is trewly gett, & do þat for me.
c1515   Ld. Berners tr. Bk. Duke Huon of Burdeux (1882–7) lxxxiii. 260   Say vnto hym that he drynke to you in the name of good peace.
1874   Safe-burglary 64 in U.S. Congress. Serial Set (43rd Congr., 1st Sess.: House of Representatives Rep. 785) V   I think he said for me to stay there until he came.
1874   Safe-burglary 201 in U.S. Congress. Serial Set (43rd Congr., 1st Sess.: House of Representatives Rep. 785) V   ‘He said to go ahead?’.. ‘Yes, sir.’
1929   E. Hemingway Farewell to Arms xii. 87   I woke Georgetti, the other boy who was drunk, and offered him some water. He said to pour it on his shoulder and went back to sleep.
1959   Times 20 June 7/7   Father said for Chris to take one of the lanterns.
1989   K. Gibbons Virtuous Woman (1990) xiii. 133   I said for her to be there first thing bright and early.
1990   J. Moo Weird Diary Walter Woo 153   But Mum said to wait and see. She wasn't sure they were safe.
2011   T. K. Rowley When Redbud Blooms 69   I called Gary and he said to go ahead and fax him the papers.

OE—2011(Hide quotations)


 (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.

OE   Old Eng. Hexateuch: Gen. (Claud.) xxvii. 13   Do swa ic þe secge.
OE   West Saxon Gospels: John (Corpus Cambr.) ii. 5   Doð swa hwæt swa he eow secge [L. quodcumque dixerit vobis].
c1380   Sir Ferumbras (1879) l. 4416 (MED)   Wan we comeþ to þe brigge-gate..Doþ as y schal sayne.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 5106 (MED)   Als suith as we mai be graith we sal do as ȝe haue said.
c1450   MS Douce 52 in Festschrift zum XII. Neuphilologentage (1906) 53 (MED)   Thow shall do as þe preste says, but not as þe preste doos.
a1500   Ratis Raving (Cambr. Kk.1.5) l. 1088 in R. Girvan Ratis Raving & Other Early Scots Poems (1939) 31   Fore-thi, my sone, do as I say, And It sal lyk the, dare I lay.
1566   T. Underdowne Excellent Hist. Theseus & Ariadne sig. B.vv   Do as I saye, if thou hast ought vpon thy selfe regarde.
1635   H. Mason Hearing & Doing 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   Dublin Rev. 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 Miracles of our Lord i. 19   If he says, Obey, do it—do whatever He says.
1875   B. Jowett tr. Plato Dialogues (ed. 2) I. 386   Be persuaded by me, and do as I say.
1934   D. Thomas Let. Dec. (1985) 181   Now do be an angel, & do what I say.
1959   F. Astaire Steps in Time (1960) vi. 42   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 Wilderness (1983) xxv. 178   It pleased him that she did what he said without argument.
2011   A. Gibbons Act of Love (2012) v. 48   Imran did his best. ‘Do as he says, Chris. There's no point both of us getting a kicking.’

OE—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive in passive. To accept orders, direction, or advice. Chiefly in negative contexts. Cf. tell v. 14c. Now regional (chiefly Irish English).

1588   in W. Greenwell Wills & Inventories Registry Durham (1860) II. 321   Whom I make my soule executors, equally together, wyllinge and commandinge them that they shalbe sayd and ruled by Ambrose Lancaster and Roger Megson, if [etc.].
1650   J. Trapp Clavis to Bible (Gen. xxxix. 10) 304   Satan will not be said with a little.
1847   J. S. Le Fanu Fortunes Torlogh O'Brien 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 Gloss. Yorks. Words 146   In spite of all I can do, she wont be sayed.
1888   ‘R. Boldrewood’ Robbery under Arms xxxix   Father didn't get well all at once. He went back twice..and wouldn't be said by Aileen.
1928   A. E. Pease Dict. Dial. N. Riding Yorks. 108/1   He winnot be said.
1974   J. B. Keane Lett. of Love-Hungry Farmer in Celebrated Lett. (1996) 172   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 Ghost Light (2011) ix. 150   Your sister won't be said.

1588—2010(Hide quotations)


 a. transitive. With on, upon. To make (an accusation) against, attribute (a crime, guilt, etc.) to. Obsolete.

OE   Laws of Cnut (Nero) ii. xvi. 320   Se þe oþerne mid wo forsecgan wylle.., gyf þonne se oðer þæt geunsoðian mæge, þæt him man on secgan wolde, sy he his tungan scyldig.
lOE   Laws of Æðelred II (Corpus Cambr. 383) ii. vii. 224   Gif man secge on landesmann, þæt he orf stæle oððon man sloge.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Katherine (Royal) (1981) 1019 (MED)   Porfirie iseh feole þet me seide hit uppon gultelese leaden..to deaðe.
1578   J. Rolland Seuin Seages 286   I am saikles of ȝone he sayis on me.
1641   G. Walker Socinianisme 45   For our Saviour speakes of sinne committed by himselfe, and such aspersion none can say upon him.
1646   in J. Lilburne Londons Liberty in Chains 62   Lieutenant Colonell Iohn Lilburn, to be by him kept and disposed of, for his better vindication, against the said scandals said upon him by the said Iohn White.

OE—1646(Hide quotations)


 b. intransitive. With unto. To censure, rebuke; to reproach. Obsolete.

a1470   T. Malory Morte Darthur (Winch. Coll. 13) (1990) III. 1194   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.

a1470—a1470(Hide quotations)


 16. transitive. To determine, decide, ascertain; to be certain or precise about. Sometimes also with more directive connotations: to state decisively, rule, prescribe. With indirect question as object (cf. sense A. 2b).When non-directive, chiefly in negative contexts, with can, be able, or a phrase with non-referential it as subject (e.g. it is impossible to, it is hard to, etc.).

eOE   tr. Orosius Hist. (BL Add.) (1980) v. ii. 116   Hwæþer Romane hit witen nu ænegum men to secganne, hwæt hiera folces on Ispanium on feawum gearum forwurde?
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 25   Nute we na to sæcgenne hwanon Iohannis fulluht beo.
1551   R. Robinson tr. T. More Vtopia ii. sig. P.v   It is hard to say whether they be craftier in laynge an ambusshe, or wittier in aduoydynge thesame.
1612   T. Taylor Αρχὴν Ἁπάντων: Comm. Epist. Paul to Titus (ii. 14) 532   It is verie hard to say, whether nature or religion giueth the stroake to their actions.
1678   S. Butler Hudibras: Third Pt. iii. i. 42   'Tis hard to say..who imported the French Goods.
1711   A. Pope Ess. Crit. 3   'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill Appear in Writing or in Judging ill.
1736   Bp. J. Butler Analogy of Relig. i. iii. 52   No one can say, how considerable this Uneasiness and Satisfaction may be.
1772   Votes & Proc. Boston 6   Hence as a private Man has a Right to say, what Wages he will give in his private Affairs, so has a Community to determine what they will give and grant of their Substance, for the Administration of publick Affairs.
a1817   J. Austen Persuasion (1818) III. xii. 262   As to the wretched party left behind, it could scarcely be said which of the three, who were completely rational, was suffering most.
1842   T. De Quincey Cicero in Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. July 12/1   Passively, how far co-operatively it is hard to say, Pompey owed his triumph to mere acts of decoy.
1891   ‘J. S. Winter’ Lumley x. 68   What the end of it all would have been I really cannot say.
1907   Proc. & Deb. Constit. Convent. State of Michigan II. 1008/2   That clause, Mr. Chairman, reserves to villages, cities and townships the right to say where the individual or corporation may lay wires upon his or its own private premises.
1910   A. H. Osman Pigeon Bk. xiii. 148   It is impossible to say what breeds have and have not been used to ‘make’ the racing pigeon.
1962   J. Gray Hist. Zanzibar ii. 20   At the present time it is difficult to say how many soi-disant Shirazi are genuinely entitled to that name.
1986   New Scientist 5 June 16/2   Neither the ESA nor Arianespace can say what went wrong with last Saturday's launch.
2008   New Scientist 26 July 9/2   It is simply too early to say whether anything dangerous enough to cause a mega-catastrophe might emerge.
2014   T. Lee Legend of Sheba xiv. 142   And who says what a queen may or may not do?

eOE—2014(Hide quotations)

 17. To suppose or assume to be the case. Usually in imperative or in let us say.

 a. transitive. With clause as object, expressing a hypothetical case or an assumption. Cf. suppose v. 11a(a).

a1596   Sir Thomas More (1911) i. i. 159   Well, say tis read, what is your further meaning in the matter.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) i. iv. 23   Say I do speake with her (my Lord) what then?  View more context for this quotation
1650   J. Trapp Clavis to Bible (Gen. xlvi. 1) 351   But say it had been out of his way.
1656   Earl of Monmouth tr. T. Boccalini Ragguagli di Parnasso ii. lxxxvi. 371   When a Prince, say it be not out of private hatred, but justly doth vex any great Officer.
1727   A. Motte Treat. Mech. Powers i. 3   For a Stone upon the Ground, if it give Motion to it self, must cause it self to move in some given Direction. Say it be to the right.
1860   Pathfinder 11 Aug. 95   If we say, for argument sake, that wrongs heavy to be borne had been inflicted upon the Hebrew people by their taskmasters.
1915   H. E. Ives in Electr. World 20 Feb. 460/1   Let us say that a surface has a brightness of one ‘lambert’.
1948   Life 6 Sept. 67/2 (advt.)    Let's say you want a camera that stops really fast action—a camera with speeds up to 1/1000th of a second.
1950   R. Moore Candlemas Bay 22   Jeb felt it wasn't the way he'd go courting, himself, say he was interested in any one girl.
1989   T. Clancy Clear & Present Danger i. 29   Let's say he topped off at the last port. He can get to the Bahamas easily enough.
2006   C. Coulter Born to be Wild xlv. 262   But say he didn't do it, say he made himself look guilty because he was protecting someone.

a1596—2006(Hide quotations)

 b. intransitive. 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 Analogy of Relig. 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 6 Satires 71   A Woodcock, let us say, by chance is sent To you.
1837   T. Carlyle French Revol. 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   Athenæum No. 480. 6   A Venus—say of Parian marble in early Greek style.
1861   C. Dickens Great Expectations III. xiii. 198   Early in the week, or say Wednesday.
1875   A. Cayley in Q. Jrnl. Pure & Appl. Math. 13 321   Radius vectors belonging to the same angle (or say opposite angles).
1904   Iron & Steel Mag. 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   New Republic 12 Oct. 208/1   I daresay the drummer sees no difference between Gary and, say, Newark.
1940   W. Faulkner Hamlet i. ii. 40   In Ratliff it was that hearty celibacy as of a lay brother in a twelfth-century monastery—a gardener, a pruner of vines, say.
1990   Amer. Speech 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   Daily Tel. 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.

1736—2011(Hide quotations)


 (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 Diary 22 Aug. (1930) 21/1   He offers [as salary] $17.00. Rather a large school, say 80. I put forward.
1861   Jrnl. Hort., Cottage Gardener, & Country Gentleman 28 May 161/1   One leg is filled with water weighing (let us say) 2½ ozs.
1863   C. Kingsley Lett. (1877) II. 147   The wages of my people..average 11s. per week... Harvesting, say £5 more.
1876   W. E. Gladstone Homeric Synchronism 143   But if the period of (say) 100 years subdivides itself.
1898   T. C. Allbutt et al. Syst. Med. V. 450   Equal volumes of, say, thirty and forty-fold diluted normal acid.
1952   N.Y. Times 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   Listener 15 Sept. 388/3   A production volume of say, 20,000 units a year.
2009   New Scientist 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.

1817—2009(Hide quotations)


 18. transitive. To suggest or agree on (a price, a time for an appointment, etc.). Also intransitive in parenthetic use.

1861   W. M. Thackeray Roundabout Papers xiv, in Cornhill Mag. July 123   I..offer in these presents a sound genuine ordinaire, at 18s. per doz. let us say.
1904   W. B. Yeats Let. 1 Jan. (1994) III. 504   I must ask you either to give me an agreement terminable at the end of so many years, five, let us say, or even six, or else to give me a better royalty than 10%.
1911   L. M. Montgomery Story Girl xxxii. 356   We'll say ten o'clock to-morrow forenoon.
1955   S. Beckett Molloy ii. 132   I shall lunch a little later today, that's all, I said. Martha looked at me furiously. Say four o'clock, I said.
1976   R. Barnard Little Local Murder i. 15   Tin of fish paste..we'll say ten pee, shall we?
1980   M. Thelwell Harder they Come (1996) xiii. 283   Let's say fifty dollars an hour for studio time, fifteen an hour for the sidemen, eh?
2011   R. Fooks I must tell you This! 43   ‘Yes of course,’ replied Lord Weston hurriedly. ‘Shall we say ten thirty?’

1861—2011(Hide quotations)

 III. transitive (also sometimes intransitive with so). To convey information without using words; to indicate.

 19. Of a person's eyes, expression, demeanour, etc.: to convey (a meaning or message) wordlessly; to indicate (a person's thoughts, attitude, etc.).

a1450  (▸1369)    G. Chaucer Bk. Duchess (Tanner 346) (1871) l. 876   But euer me thoghte her yen seyde Be god my wrath is all for-gife.
a1586   Sir P. Sidney Arcadia (1590) (ii.) xxii. sig. Cc8v   How often (alas) did her eyes say vnto me, that they loued?
1620   J. Pyper tr. H. d'Urfé Hist. Astrea i. viii. 284   You haue reason (faire shepheardesse) not to answer, for your eies say as much indeed.
1798   C. Stearns Maid of Groves v. ii. 216   Her tongue says nothing, but her eyes say yes.
1836   N.-Y. Mirror 8 Oct. 113/3   She looked at him. He was very handsome. Her eyes said so.
1873   E. P. Roe What can she Do? vi. 86   Her manner and expression said, ‘I am Mrs. Allen. We are of an old New York family. We are very, very rich.’
1890   H. Craig tr. P. Hervieu Flirt vi. 192   The young man..placed his hand on the inside pocket of his jacket. His gesture said eloquently enough that the cherished image was there, near his heart.
1905   Smart Set July 84   Your lips said no; but your eyes said yes.
1919   Libr. Jrnl. Mar. 177/1   Too often her expression says, ‘I'm very busy, I haven't time to talk to you.’
1962   D. Lessing Golden Notebk. ii. 230   The set of his shoulders said that he was listening, so she went on.
2009   E. Quinn Haunting Beauty iii. 34   His dark tone seemed to imply she was somehow to blame for this, but the look in his eyes said he didn't really mind.

a1450—2009(Hide quotations)


 a. To convey or reveal to a listener, reader, or onlooker (facts, information, etc.) about something; to indicate (that something is the case).Before the mid 20th cent. usually with a sense that the object referred to is conceptualized figuratively as speaking (cf. senses A. 2a, A. 3).

1542   N. Udall tr. Erasmus Apophthegmes ii. f. 209   Euery bodye reporteth me [sc. Alexander the Great] to bee ye soonne of Iupiter, but this wounde saieth with an open mouth, that I am a mortall manne.
1623   W. Shakespeare & J. Fletcher Henry VIII iv. i. 55   1 [Gent.] All the rest are Countesses. 2 [Gent.] Their Coronets say so.
1744   J. Miller & J. Hoadly Mahomet v. i. 69   Let your loud-crying Wounds say what I am.
1884   Wide Awake Feb. 178/1   She..is out in her gray knit hood, with its smart rosette at the back of the crown that says to any one behind her what her eyes say in front.
1952   C. A. Coulson Valence i. 2   Although such bond-diagrams do tell us something of the relative orientation of the atoms, they say nothing about the length of the bond.
1974   P. Gzowski Bk. about this Country 197/1   That the nudies have such phenomenal mass-market circulations says something about our sexuality.
1976   Listener 8 Apr. 427/3   This same man has since been in contact, and wants to go on another job with us..—which, to me, says that he is happy that what could be done was done under the circumstances at the time.
1990   B. Burrough & J. Helyar Barbarians at Gate iii. 84   His reaction said a lot about Johnson.
2004   Middle East Rep. No. 223. 6/1   Have the Middle East and North Africa largely escaped the global AIDS epidemic? The available data seems to say so.
2008   Time Out N.Y. 19 June 107/1   The title says it all, really.

1542—2008(Hide quotations)


 b. To indicate symbolically; to signify or suggest by its very nature.

1905   Smith Coll. Monthly Jan. 521   The calendar says, ‘It's the first day of May,’ But the weather says, ‘It's December.’
1970   P. Laurie Scotl. Yard iii. 68   To me drugs say beatniks, layabouts..kids going to ruin.
1972   A. Ross London Assignment 33   His shirt said custom-made silk even at that distance.
2009   J. P. Hasty Fear of Strangers iii. 16   Her perfume said, ‘expensive’.

1905—2009(Hide quotations)


 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 Philomythie (1616) 131   The Clocke said one and past.
1700   W. Congreve Way of World i. i. 4   Betty, what says your Clock?
1861   Amer. Monthly Mar. 87/1   The clock says five minutes past two.
1930   W. Faulkner As I lay Dying 237   The clock said twenty past twelve.
1973   W. J. Burley Death in Salubrious Place v. 105   The perpetual calender said Wednesday August 25th.
2011   S. Rossmiller Unexpected Patriot xi. 200   Before I knew it the clock said 7:30 a.m.

1615—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. Of an instrument, meter, dial, etc.: to register (a particular measurement or reading). Cf. read v. 11c.

1826   R. P. Gillies Tales Voyager to Arctic Ocean 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   Appletons' Jrnl. 28 June 842/2   The thermometer said 82° instead of 48°.
1913   W. S. Hall Father & Daughter 16   The thermometer says 37 and that's only 5 degrees above freezing.
1977   T. McLaughlin Make your own Electr. iv. 43   If the voltmeter says 240V, set the voltage tapping of the set to this figure.
2011   C. Hodge Road Kill xix. 246   A learner driver is travelling at 60km/h (at least that's what the speedo says) in a 60km/h zone.

1826—2011(Hide quotations)


 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’ Wanderings of Vagabond xxxvi. 454   There's twelve hundred dollars that says yer can't pick up the Jack!
1954   W. Tucker Wild Talent xii. 184   A dollar says you won't come back.
1975   J. Gores Hammett iii. 28   I've got twenty at four-to-seven that says the semifinal is a draw.
1985   J. Sullivan Only Fools & Horses (1999) 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 For Now xix. 200   A dollar says you don't have the nerve.

1873—2007(Hide quotations)

 B. int. Originally and chiefly North American.

  Used to express surprise or to attract attention. Cf. Phrases 6c(a).

?a1832   F. Trollope Notebks. in Domest. Manners Amer. (1949) App. A. 427   Say!
1852   Lantern (N.Y.) 1 122/1   Say—d'you run with our machine?
1857   J. G. Holland Bay-path xxvi. 336   Say! What are you laughing at?
1888   Amer. Humorist 5 May 72/1   Say, boys, let's climb the mountain.
1913   J. London Let. 20 Nov. (1966) 410   The galley stove kept going..and hot coffee—say!
1941   B. Schulberg What makes Sammy Run? ii. 32   Say, I didn't expect all this.
1988   R. E. Brown Chester's Last Stand i. 20   Say, buddy, don't you know a goat from a sow?
2003   Austral. Financial Rev. (Sydney) 29 May (Special Report section) 18/4 (headline)    Say, are you sure we haven't webbed before?

?a1832—2003(Hide quotations)


Phrasal verbs

  With adverbs in specialized senses.  to say away  
Originally and chiefly Scottish.

  intransitive. To say what one has to say, to have one's say; to hold forth, speak. Usually in imperative. Cf. to say on at Phrasal verbs.

1783   J. Brown Frolic ii. 59   Ay, it'll saffen the bass pipe awee—Say away Birky.
1801   W. Beattie Fruits Time Parings (1813) 17   Now, say awa', and fa' to it.
1821   W. Scott Kenilworth I. viii. 204   Say away, therefore, as confidently as if you spoke to your father.
1877   J. M. Neilson Poems 51   Weel, jist say awa.
1911   C. F. Horne tr. In Search Castaways Austral. i. 172 in J. Verne Wks. IV.   ‘Say away, McNabbs,’ replied Glenarvan.
2009   M. Hollister Interface Race xxix. 230   ‘I have something to say.’.. ‘Say away, my love.’

1783—2009(Hide quotations)

to say before  

  transitive. To prophesy, foretell.In quot. ?a1475   intransitive in a parenthetic clause introduced by as (cf. sense A. 1b).  [Compare earlier before-say vb. at before adv., prep., conj., and n. Compounds 3. Compare also classical Latin praedīcere  predict v.]

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 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.
?a1475   Ludus Coventriae (1922) 148 (MED)   This prophecye is now spad..þerfore mankend may be glad, As prophetys be-forn han seyd.
a1500   Gospel of Nicodemus (Harl. 149) (1974) 108 (MED)   Whan y [sc. David] was quykke, than seyde y befor the myserycorde of oure Lorde..and of hys merveyles that he schuld do.

c1384—a1500(Hide quotations)

  to say forth  
now archaic.

 1. intransitive. To say what one has to say; to hold forth, speak. Usually in imperative. Cf. to say on at Phrasal verbs.

a1225  (c1200)    Vices & Virtues (1888) 25   Gif ðu wilt bien siker of rihte ileaue, ðane sei ðu forð mid seinte Petre [etc.]
a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) i. l. 184   ‘Sey forth,’ quod sche, ‘and tell me how’.
a1500  (c1410)    Dives & Pauper (Hunterian) (1976) i. 226 (MED)   Sey forth, Y preye þe.
a1522   G. Douglas tr. Virgil Æneid (1957) i. Prol. l. 478   Quha can do bettir sa furth in Goddis name.
1921   A. Orbeck tr. H. Ibsen Catiline ii, in Early Plays 47   Come, say forth [Da. sig frem]! What was his answer?
1991   P. Anderson Star of Sea iii, in Time Patrol 310   If you will, say forth.

a1225—1991(Hide quotations)


 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  pronounce v.).]

c1405  (c1390)    G. Chaucer Reeve's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) Prol. l. 51   Sey forth thy tale and tarie noght the tyme.
?1507   W. Dunbar Tua Mariit Wemen (Rouen) in Poems (1998) I. 45   I sall say furth the suth.
?1548   J. Bale Comedy Thre Lawes Nature ii. sig. Bv   Saye fourth your mynde good mother.
1618   R. Broughton Man. Praiers sig. A8v   Yet al can not say forth of affection with the holie Apostle, ‘Who shal seperate vs from the loue of Christ?’
1669   Hist. Sir Eger 61   He said forth right hastily, The words that grievd him greatumlie.
1808   W. Scott Marmion i. xxiii. 45   Well hast thou spoke; say forth thy say.
1862   M. Oliphant Life E. Irving vi. 104   That longed-for pulpit, in which he could say forth unchecked the message that was in him.
1997   P. Anderson War of Gods (1999) 287   Skalds stepped before the king to say forth the praises of him and his friend.

c1405—1997(Hide quotations)

  to say on  

 1. intransitive. To say what one has to say; to hold forth, speak. Usually in imperative. Cf. earlier to say forth at Phrasal verbs. Now somewhat archaic.  [Compare Middle High German sag an, imperative (German sag an, now arch.).]

c1330   Seven Sages (Auch.) (1933) l. 1093   ‘Sei on, dame!’ and ssche bigan To tellen als a fals wimman.
1490   W. Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) vi. 146   ‘But here my wordes, yf it playse you,’ ‘saye on hardely,’ sayd the kynge.
1517   in B. Cusack Everyday Eng. 1500–1700 (1998) 100   [Deposition, Cambridgeshire] Petur Edward Seyd on to the Company.
1611   Bible (King James) 1 Kings ii. 14   He said moreouer, I haue somewhat to say vnto thee. And she saide, Say on .  View more context for this quotation
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost viii. 228   Say therefore on .  View more context for this quotation
1754   J. Elphinston tr. F. Fénelon Dialogues of Dead I. xxiv. 142   Say on, say on, dear Aristotle, thou now hast no measures to keep.
1851   Ld. Tennyson Edwin Morris 57   Yet say on.
1888   C. M. Doughty Trav. Arabia Deserta II. xvii. 500   Say on..if thou canst allege aught against me.
1966   E. Amadi Concubine ix. 59   ‘I have something important to say to you.’ ‘Say on.’
1992   B. Lumley Blood Brothers (1993) iii. 112   Say on then: what will it take to put him down?

c1330—1992(Hide quotations)


2. transitive (in imperative). To say (what one has to say); to speak (one's mind). Obsolete.

1487  (a1380)    J. Barbour Bruce (St. John's Cambr.) xii. 199   Tharfor sais on ȝour will planly.
?1547   J. Bale Trag. Chefe Promyses of God iv. sig. Ciijv   I wyll first conclude, and then saye on thy mynde.
c1580  (▸1438)    tr. Bk. Alexander (1921) II. ii. l. 2435   Dame Fesonas say on ȝour thocht.
1599   Hist. Syr Clyomon & Clamydes 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?

1487—1599(Hide quotations)

  to say out  

 1. transitive. To say openly or publicly; to make known. Frequently with loud (or aloud) after Middle English (cf. out loud at loud adv. 1d).  [Compare earlier outsay v.   and the Germanic parallels cited at that entry. Compare also classical Latin ēdīcere   to say out loud, to announce (see edict n.).]

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Dan. iv. 15   Alle the wijse men of my rewme mown not saye out [L. edicere] to me the solucioun.
c1450  (?c1408)    J. Lydgate Reson & Sensuallyte (1901) l. 4583 (MED)   I say yt out, me lyst nat rovne, Thus ye shuld hir name expovne.
1529   T. More Dyaloge Dyuers Maters 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 Memorable Conceits 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 Trav. Source Nile IV. vii. ix. 226   Somebody said out loud, Ozoro Esther is taken prisoner.
1853   E. C. Gaskell Ruth I. xiii. 275   Miss Benson said boldly out, ‘The lady I named in my note, Sally.’
1864   J. H. Newman Apologia (1904) iv. 125/1   I apologize for saying out in controversy charges against the Church of Rome, which withal I affirm that I fully believed at the time when I made them.
1880   R. L. Stevenson Let. 26 Dec. (1911) II. 25   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 Lady Chatterley's Lover 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 Dublin Mag. Winter 13   Let him say out what's in his hand.
1994   R. Bailie in R. Ekins & R. Freeman Centres & Peripheries Psychoanal. ii. viii. 182   A danger that threatened if, for example, forbidden words were said out.

c1384—1994(Hide quotations)


2. transitive. To finish saying (what one has to say). Chiefly with cognate object. Obsolete.

1440   J. Capgrave Life St. Norbert (1977) l. 261 (MED)   He saide oute his masse & made a fayre ende.
1692   R. L'Estrange Fables ci. 95   He had no sooner say'd out his Say, but [etc.].
1768   A. Tucker Light of Nature Pursued II. ii. 273   He would not interrupt me for fear I should not have time to say out all my say.
a1843   R. Southey Doctor (1847) VII. 327   I shall say out my say in disregard of both.
1896   Harper's Mag. June 84/2   I'm goin' to say out what I started to.

1440—1896(Hide quotations)

  to say over  

  transitive. To repeat or recite from memory.

a1425  (c1384)    Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Corpus Oxf.) (1850) 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 Commentaries f. ccxxxj   Let the poorer sorte oftymes saye ouer theyr Pater noster, and after receyue the Sacrament.
1625   F. Bacon Ess. (new ed.) 160   Or that a Man in Anger is as Wise as he, that hath said ouer the foure and twenty Letters.
1680   R. Baxter Answer to Dr. Stillingfleet 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 Let. 15 Jan. (1931) I. 152   I take religion to be, not the bare saying over so many prayers, morning and evening..but a constant ruling of soul.
1852   Tracts for Parochial Use 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 Kildrostan 47   Doris made a comic rhyme of it, And said it over to me.
1902   F. M. Crawford Cecilia xviii. 270   She knew all the fourteenth canto of the ‘Paradise’,..and said it over.
2006   J. Carey What Good are Arts? 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.

a1425—2006(Hide quotations)



 P1. 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. do as I say, not as I do at do v. Phrases 3, say-well n. 1.Frequently in, or with allusion to, Matthew 23:3.

OE   West Saxon Gospels: Matt. (Corpus Cambr.) xxiii. 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].
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 8660   Do swa summ þu seȝȝdesst.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Matt. xxiii. 3   Sothely thei seien, and don nat.
a1500   tr. Thomas à Kempis De Imitatione Christi (Trin. Dublin) (1893) 103   Shal I be like a man þat saiþ & doþe not?
1536   R. Morison Remedy for Sedition sig. E.iii   Men say wel that do wel.
1611   Bible (King James) Matt. xxiii. 3   But doe not ye after their workes: for they say, and doe not.  View more context for this quotation
1646   J. Bastwick Utter Routing of Army of Independents 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 Wks. sig. (a6)   So hard a thing it is for a Man to say well and do well.
1758   E. Carter tr. Epictetus Wks. iii. vii. 246   We too say one Thing, and do another: we talk well, and act ill.
1813   Panoplist Dec. 519/1   Those who say and do not rather injure, than subserve the cause which they pretend to espouse.
1846   J. F. Cooper Redskins 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   Our Paper 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   Bible (New Eng.) Matt. xxiii. 3   But do not follow their practice; for they say one thing and do another.
2014   Times (Nexis) 8 Oct. (Business section) 37   That's traders for you: say one thing, do another.

OE—2014(Hide quotations)


 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 De Contemptu Mundi 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 Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue 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 True Hist. Barbados 92   I have yet said nothing of making white Sugars, but that is much quicker said than done.
1692   T. Taylor tr. G. Daniel Voy. World Cartesius 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 Importance & Advantage of Cape Breton v. 107   A good Fleet at Sea, would prevent their landing... This is a Thing much easier said, than done.
1788   A. Jardine Lett. from Barbary, France, &c. 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 Coll. Local Poems, Songs, &c. 66   I'll tell you slobber-chops, You'll find that sooner said than done—perhaps.
1892   Analyst Mar. 50   The filtration of milk was a thing which was much quicker said than done.
1921   Independent 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 Underground Railroad in Connecticut 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 Becoming Nancy (2012) xix. 255   The best and safest course of action for me was to work hard and keep my head down... Easier said than done.

?1532—2011(Hide quotations)

 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.

c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 10085   He shollde itt hæwenn..att te treowwess rote, Þatt iss to seggenn..Rihht att tatt follkess ende.
a1200   MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 3   Aduent þat is seggen on englis ure louerd ihesu cristes tocume.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 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.
c1330  (?c1300)    Speculum Guy (Auch.) (1898) 413   Þis is to seie, i telle þe: ‘Þe clene of herte, blessed þeih be’.
a1425   Rule St. Benet (Lansd.) (1902) 15 (MED)   Þat es hele of þa þat ere in sekenes, þat es at say in sinne.
a1500  (?a1450)    Gesta Romanorum (Harl. 7333) (1879) 172   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 Fower Offices Horsemanshippe   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 Nat. & Morall Hist. Indies v. xvii. 374   A lake..which they call Ezapangue, which is to say, water of blood.
1677   Duke of Lauderdale in O. Airy Lauderdale Papers (1885) III. lvii. 89   They pretend they cannot suppress these disorders, that is to say they will doe nothing towards it.
1742   J. Fraser Hist. Nadir Shah 126   Tokbîr is repeating three times these words,..Allah Akbar, which is to say, God is Greatest.
1818   W. Scott Heart of Mid-Lothian in Tales of my Landlord 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 Philos. Dict. VI. 140   The laws of the Jews did not forbid oneiromancy, that is to say, the science of dreams.
1858   M. Oliphant Laird of Norlaw 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 Irish Guards in Great War I. 58   The Irish ‘drummed up’, which is to say, stewed their tea or rations.
2009   New Yorker 10 Aug. 30/2   Seventeen of the accused were killed through ‘extra legal violence’—that is to say, lynched.

c1175—2009(Hide quotations)


 (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 Curye on Inglysch (1985) 51 (MED)   When a mete is to muche isalt, þat is to suggen, potagee, to maken remedie in god stat, [etc.].
1395   in F. J. Furnivall Fifty Earliest Eng. Wills (1882) 4   I bequethe to the same Thomas, the stoffe longyng therto, that is to seye, my beste fetherbed [etc.].
c1405  (c1387–95)    G. Chaucer Canterbury Tales Prol. (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 181   A fissh þt is waterlees That is to seyn, a Monk out of his Cloystre.
1539   Bible (Great) title   The Byble in English; that is to saye, the Content of all the Holy Scripture.
1569   R. Grafton Chron. II. 130   Two Aldermen more.., that is to say, Arnold Thedmare, & Henry Walmode.
1645   Perfect Passages Proc. in Parl. 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 Trav. into Levant ii. 25   Three hours after, that's to say, about eleven a Clock.
1725   D. Defoe New Voy. round World ii. 88   A very handsome Table, covered with..a cold Treat, that is to say, Cold roasted Mutton and Beef.
1793   Astrologer's Mag. 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 Holy Rom. Empire iii. 31   Francia Occidentalis, that is to say, Neustria and Aquitaine.
1928   S. C. Herold Analyt. Princ. Production Oil, Gas, & Water 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 New London Spy (1967) 288   Synagogues, like shops, are at their most unwelcoming during their high season—which is to say, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
2009   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 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.

a1325—2009(Hide quotations)


b. to say: = that is to say at Phrases 2a. Obsolete.

1547   J. Hooper Declar. Christe 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 Declar. Christe vi. E viij   Hym that had the imperie and dominion of deathe to say the deuill.
1579   T. North tr. Plutarch Liues 529   Gymnasiarchus, to say, a master of exercises of youth.
1615   Worcs. Inventory in J. West Village Rec. (1982) iv. 102   Item, corne In the Barne, to say Rye and Barley.

1547—1615(Hide quotations)


 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 A. 17.  [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 Papers (2000) XXVIII. 615   There are very few acres..which would not furnish 30. stocks, say 3000. f. of plank underreckoned.
1841   W. M. Thackeray Great Hoggarty Diamond ii   The widow, sir, came with her money: nine hundred and four, ten and six—say 904l. 10s. 6d.
1862   Commerc. Enfranchisem. Confederate States Amer. i. 7   Of the receipts, American tobacco constituted 19,846,198 kilogrammes—say 43,661,635 pounds, about thirty thousand hogsheads in all.
1877   Law Jrnl. Rep. 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 U.S. Congress. Serial Set (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   Symons's Monthly Meteorol. Mag. June 71   One and two-thirds of a mile (say 3,000 yards) from where it had been picked up.

1796—1900(Hide quotations)

 P3. Idiomatic use of the infinitive, to say, in parenthetic phrases.
 a. 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 shortly to say   compare Anglo-Norman brefment a dire and Middle French briefment a dire (13th cent. or earlier), cortement a dire (a1307 or earlier).]

OE   Wulfstan Pastoral Let. (Tiber. A.iii) (1957) 231   Þyder sceolan þeafas & þeodscaþan, &, raþost to secgenne [OE Hatton hrædest to secganne], ealle þu [read þa] manfullan þe god gremiaþ.
c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 3747   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.
c1405  (c1387–95)    G. Chaucer Canterbury Tales Prol. (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 470   Gattothed was she, soothly for to seye.
?a1425  (c1400)    Mandeville's Trav. (Titus C.xvi) (1919) 117   And schortly to seye ȝou, þei suffren so grete peynes.
1521   tr. C. de Pisan Bk. Cyte of Ladyes 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 Terapeutyke sig. Cjv   Proprely to say these two maners of curyng ar called Prophilactykes in Greke.
a1616   W. Shakespeare All's Well that ends Well (1623) ii. ii. 12   And indeed such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the Court.  View more context for this quotation
1868   W. Morris Earthly Paradise 536   Shortly to say, there neither man nor maid Was safe afield whether they wrought or played.
1922   Illinois Med. Jrnl. 42 146/1   Happily to say, a little orange juice added to the food and the disease disappears promptly.
2014   Telegraph-Jrnl. (New Brunswick) (Nexis) 31 Dec. a6   Christmas day has come and gone..and sadly to say another opportunity has been lost.

OE—2014(Hide quotations)


 (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 least pron. and n. 1.

a1225  (c1200)    Vices & Virtues (1888) 11 (MED)   Soþ to seggen, ic not ȝif ich auerȝete ani ðing dede ðat ic nolde habbe sumes kennes lean.
a1450  (▸1436)    Libel Eng. Policy (Laud) in T. Wright Polit. Poems & Songs (1861) II. 181   Ffor here martis bene feble, shame to saye.
1484   W. Caxton tr. Subtyl Historyes & Fables Esope iv. viii   Oftyme for to saye trouthe men lese theyre lyues.
1577   H. I. tr. H. Bullinger 50 Godlie Serm. 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. (new ed.) ii. i. 136/2 in Holinshed's Chron. (new ed.) I   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 Tom Tel-Troths Message 713   But sooth to say, Tom-teltroth will not lie, We heere haue blaz'd Englands iniquitie.
1710   J. Swift Jrnl. to Stella 30 Nov. (1948) I. 108   But, to say the truth, the present ministry have a difficult task, and want me, &c.
1749   H. Fielding Tom Jones IV. xii. iii. 206   To say the Truth, we have..often done great Violence to the Luxuriance of our Genius.  View more context for this quotation
1835   J. P. Kennedy Horse-shoe Robinson I. xxv. 169   To say truth, he has a bold and most mischievous spirit.
1845   ‘E. Warburton’ Crescent & Cross I. 311   We had been already five weeks in Savagedom,..and, to say the truth, we had had enough of it.
1886   C. E. Pascoe London of To-day (ed. 3) xli. 354   The investigation of this question, which, truth to say, was one of importance.
1900   A. G. Bradley Fight with France for N. Amer. 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 Masters & Men 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 Iberian Fathers 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 Independence Day (1996) 115   Truth to say, I was as happy as I expected to be.

a1225—1995(Hide quotations)


 (c) Preceded by an adjective, as sad to say, strange to say, etc.

OE   tr. Chrodegang of Metz Regula Canonicorum (Corpus Cambr. 191) xxiv. 221   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 Cosmographie 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 Acct. Portugal Pref. 6   Strange to say, its government forbids the exertion.
1818   T. Moore Diary 26 Oct. in Mem. (1853) II. 175   Which disconcerted the latter (who, strange to say, is a very grave, steady person) considerably.
1850   Brit. Q. Rev. 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   Notre Dame Scholastic 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.
a1933   J. A. Thomson Biol. for Everyman (1934) 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   Classical Weekly 43 116/1   Our contemporary world rejects the classics. It applauds psychology, educationism, science, and, sad to say, the social studies.
1998   P. McCabe Breakfast on Pluto (1999) xxxviii. 143   You were made of strong stuff and no mistake—which, sorry to say, Miss Pussy wasn't!
1999   New Musical Express 30 Oct. 39/5   Safe to say, the Buffalo boys have wrung every last drop of fire or skill out of the song.

OE—1999(Hide quotations)


 (d) to say better (also better to say): introducing a more exact or appropriate description or form of words.

1536   R. Morison Remedy for Sedition 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 Nauigations Turkie 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 Voy. & Adventures 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 Hist. Algiers 15   I lay in their Chamber, or to say better, Kennel.
1759   S. Johnson in C. Lennox tr. P. Brumoy Greek Theatre 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 Trav. Germany II. xxxv. 91   Russia bore all the expence of the Turkish, or to say better, Polish war.
1828   C. Swan tr. A. Manzoni Betrothed Lovers II. viii. 230   Every thing arranges itself, or to say better, nothing is spoiled.
1894   Book News 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   Lovington (New Mexico) Daily Leader 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 Medieval Reception Bk. Zeta Aristotle's ‘Metaphysics’ 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.

1536—2013(Hide quotations)


 (e) so to say: used to indicate that something is being described in an unusual, metaphorical, or creative way; ‘as it were’. Cf. so to speak at speak v. 4a.  [Compare Dutch zoo te zeggen (1582), German so zu sagen, sozusagen (16th cent. or earlier).]

1619   E. M. Bolton tr. Florus Rom. Hist. iii. xxi. 361   Things, so to say [L. ut sic dixerim], were planet-strucken with three bad influences.
1753   Ess. on Action for Pulpit 86   It will make every religious string, so to say, more intense and tinnient.
1770   W. Hooper tr. J. F. von Bielfeld Lett. 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 Lady's Mag. Sept. 501/2   My flowers..withered and faded and pined away; they almost, so to say, panted for drought.
1886   C. E. Pascoe London of To-day (ed. 3) xxvi. 241   Having now, so to say, presented our humble duty to the Lord Mayor..let us retrace our steps.
1930   J. Laird Knowl., Belief & Opinion iv. 103   Perfectly convincing evidence might turn up, so to say, ambulando, when we are engaged in something irrelevant.
1993   Insight on News 27 Sept. 40/1   There seldom is anyone around with a political pooper-scooper, so to say.

1619—1993(Hide quotations)

 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 Miles Christianus 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.
1644   J. Milton Doctr. Divorce (ed. 2) 50   By this reckning Moses should bee most unmosaick, that is, most illegal, not to say most unnaturall.
a1661   T. Fuller Worthies (1662) London 198   This Parish..ever was (not to say is) one of the richest in London, which their Signlesse houses doe avouch.
1794   S. Williams Nat. & Civil Hist. Vermont 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   Times 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   Q. Oregon Hist. Soc. 21 126   The discussion in the press was bitter, not to say vitriolic. Accrimination and recrimination were hurled impartially from both sides.
2008   St. Petersburg (Russia) Times 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.

1590—2008(Hide quotations)


 (b) colloquial. Used conversationally to dispute an assertion made by another speaker; ‘one should not say’, ‘do not say’. Now rare.

1857   A. Trollope Barchester Towers xliv   ‘Am not I [growing old], my dear?’ ‘No, papa, not old—not to say old’.
1905   Everybody's Mag Oct. 532/2   Not to say old, an' not to say slab-sided. Anyway, not so slab-sided as she looks from here.

1857—1905(Hide quotations)


 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); = not to mention —— at mention v. Phrases 1a.

1592   G. Babington Certaine Comfortable Notes Genesis (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 Letany i. 19/2   Greater cruelty..(to say nothing of deuillary, atheisme and popery) I know no where.
1683   Britanniæ Speculum 115   His Rational of Private State in Britain, to say nothing of other inferior Officers.
1742   W. Ellis Timber-tree Improved 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 Barham Downs 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 Nix's Mate 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 Polit. Surv. 127   Murder, to say nothing of assault and battery, has been..an everyday matter.
1962   Home Managem. (Homecraft Ser.) 27   Much damage is caused to dressing-table and bed-side table tops by spilled cosmetics and perfumes, to say nothing of marks..caused by that early-morning cup of tea.
1976   J. Crosby Nightfall xxxii. 191   Elf was her revolutionary sister-in-arms... To say nothing of her lover.
2009   N.Y. Rev. Bks. 13 Aug. 14/4   Its commerce causes great harm to the Amazonian rainforests of Brazil and Peru, to say nothing of the indigenous people.

1592—2009(Hide quotations)


 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.

c1275  (?c1250)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) l. 835   Al so ich segge bi mi solue, Betere is min on þan þine twelue.
c1400  (c1378)    W. Langland Piers Plowman (Laud 581) (1869) B. xvii. l. 17   For þough I seye it my-self I haue saued with þis charme Of men & of wommen many score þousandes.
?c1500   Killing of Children (Digby) l. 139   Though I sey it my-self I am a man of myght.
1599   George a Greene sig. C1   Though I say it that should not say it.
1606   T. Heywood 2nd Pt. If you know not Me (1609) C 3   Shall a yong man as I am, and though I say it, indifferent proper, goe [etc.].
1663   W. Clark Marciano i. v. 7   I protest, Mistress, you are very handsome, though I say it that should not say it.
1736   T. Sheridan in Swift's Lett. (1768) IV. 181   I have written a little pretty birth-day poem against St. Andrew's day... It is a very pretty thing (although I say it that shouldn't say it).
1746   Ld. Chesterfield Let. 26 Feb. (1775) 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   Blackwood's Mag. 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   C. Dickens Let. 1 May (1974) III. 229   I do believe, though I say it as shouldn't, that they [sc. Dickens's children] are good 'uns.
1892   C. M. Yonge Cross Roads i. 13   Ours is reckoned one of the best choirs..though I say it as should not say it.
1911   Watson's Mag. 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 Forty Years On & Other Plays (new ed.) Introd. 19   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 Violence of our Lives v. 185   I suppose though I say it myself I must have been a quick learner.
2008   C. Dunn Black Ship ix. 108   A finer body of men I couldn't wish for, though I say it as shouldn't.

c1275—2008(Hide quotations)

 P5. 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.

1481  (a1470)    J. Tiptoft tr. Cicero De Amicicia (Caxton) sig. a7v   As they saye [L. ut aiunt], we vse not fyre or water in moo places, than we vse frendship.
1546   J. Heywood Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue ii. vi. sig. Iii   This byteth the mare by the thumbe, as they sey.
1577   H. I. tr. H. Bullinger 50 Godlie Serm. II. iv. iv. sig. Eee.vv/2   Thou arte..foreknowledged, as they say, to damnation.
1640   J. Howell Δενδρολογια 70   This huge Olive, which flourishd so long,..fell, as they say, of vermiculation, being all worme-eaten within.
1680   J. Dryden Kind Keeper i. i. 8   And, before George, I grew tory rory, as they say.
1725   N. Bailey tr. Erasmus All Familiar Colloquies 209   I lately began to read Seneca's Epistles, and stumbled, as they say, at the very Threshold.
1773   O. Goldsmith She stoops to Conquer v. 96   Stout horses and willing minds make short journies, as they say.
1813   J. K. Paulding Diverting Hist. John Bull & Brother Jonathan (1835) xix. 87   He..was between hawk and buzzard, as they say.
1883   Longman's Mag. 2 293   A very cheerful..gentleman..who was talking away to me, nineteen to the dozen, as they say.
1930   A. P. Herbert Water Gipsies xxii. 321   Ernest, as they say, ‘saw red’.
1977   J. Thomson Case Closed iii. 43   Water under the bridge, as they say.
1999   Washingtonian May 57/3   The happiest outcome is that a deer..can be tranquilized (‘tranked’, as they say in the trade) and set free.
2010   Independent 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.

1481—2010(Hide quotations)


 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. 1973).

1822   London Lit. Gaz. 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   Peterson's Mag. 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 Rudyard Kipling (1978) xviii. 279   Much water, or shall we say much blood, has flowed under the bridges since they were written.
1968   Listener 30 May 699/1   I think the play may, shall we say, amplify light which does already exist but doesn't seem to have been noticed.
1973   E.-J. Bahr Nice Neighbourhood x. 104   Joe Walsh, Jack's shall-we-say housemate.
1977   J. Crosby Company of Friends viii. 116   It's not one of ours..I read it with—shall we say, total astonishment.
2012   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 2 Aug. d7/2   Her husband..is not, shall we say, totally on the bus with regard to his wife's family outing.

1822—2012(Hide quotations)


 c. as who saith: see who pron. and n. Phrases 1a.

 P6. 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.

a1300  (c1275)    Physiologus (1991) 499   After him prophetes alle Miȝte her[e] non him maken on stalle, On stalle, I seie, ðer he er stod.
c1392   Equatorie of Planetis 22 (MED)   Deuyde thanne the line..cleped..the midnyht line, I seye deuyde this midnyht lyne in 9 parties.
1540   Bible (Great) 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 For Antiq. Catholik Fayth 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 Worthies (1662) Mddx. 189   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 Life Robinson Crusoe 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 Inst. Eloquence II. ix. ii. 253   It is the Madness, the Madness, I say, of the Testator, and not his injustice that we blame.
1837   C. Dickens Pickwick Papers 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 Hills & Sea 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 Rage of Eagles xx. 172   ‘Somebody stop them!’ Reverend Watkins shouted. ‘This is madness, I say, madness.’

a1300—1998(Hide quotations)


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 Ledger (Hist. MSS Comm.) (1974) 103   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 Comtoir-Lexicon in neun Sprachen 128   Bought of M. N. I say Sold M. N.
1811   W. Jackson Book-keeping True Ital. Form (new ed.) i. 3   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.

1542—1811(Hide quotations)

 c. colloquial.

 (a) Used to draw attention to what one is about to say, or to express of surprise, delight, dismay, or indignant protest. Cf. sense B.   Now somewhat archaic.

1613   F. Beaumont Knight of Burning Pestle iii. sig. G3v   I say, open the doore, and turne me out those mangy companions.
1890   ‘L. Falconer’ Mademoiselle Ixe iii. 80   I say! won't it be glorious?
1931   Punch 24 June 692 (caption)    Patient (being shown into very modern consulting-room): ‘I say, I didn't come to be operated on.’
1976   Times 3 Feb. 14/3   I say, I've been to the ballet.

1613—1976(Hide quotations)


 (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   New Society 16 May 2 (advt.)    Protypical humour ‘I say, I say, I say’ ‘What is it that we take on when we take off?’
1968   Punch 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   Listener 6 Mar. 314/1   Making idiotic jokes—‘I say, I say’ jokes.
1987   New Musical Express 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.
2014   Lowestoft Jrnl. (Nexis) 17 Jan.   Comedy is provided by the King, who is armed with plenty of ‘I say, I say, I say’ jokes.

1963—2014(Hide quotations)

 P7. In phrases in which say has a general or indefinite object: cf. sense A. 3.
 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 2nd Pt. Confut. Tyndals Answere 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 Chron. 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 Christian in Armour: 1st Pt. 68   The drunkard hath nothing to say for himself, when you ask him why he lives so swinishly.
1699   T. Brown Coll. Misc. Poems, Lett. 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 Diary (1891) I. 105   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 Wks. (1808) VII. 327   The translator has only to say for himself, that he has found some difficulty in this version.
1835   Christian Examiner & Gen. Rev. 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 Lect. Diffic. Anglicans (1891) 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 Stories Old France vii. 272   Have you nothing to say for yourself? Nothing to plead in excuse?
2006   C. L. Thornton Oath of Office 192   Before his sentencing, the judge asked Johnston if he had anything to say for himself.

1533—2006(Hide quotations)


 (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 Hist. Sir Charles Grandison 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   Harvardiana 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   Dublin Univ. Mag. 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 Three Lovers 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 Jane & Prudence 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 Nail & Other Stories (1999) 155   For a beaten-down little short-arse she certainly had a lot to say for herself.
2007   J. Collins Drop Dead Beautiful (2008) xlii. 231   He was a surly boy with nothing to say for himself.

1753—2007(Hide quotations)


 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. M. de Montaigne Ess. iii. ix. 581   Theeves and stealers (godamercie their kindnesse) have in particular nothing to say to me.
1720   D. Defoe Mem. Cavalier 283   We had nothing to say to him.
1780   Mirror No. 75 (1787) III. 5   Perhaps you have something to say with the gentlemen who make the news.
1844   W. G. Todd Ch. St. Patrick 27   All then that Rome had to say to the conversion of Ireland was simply this.
1879   J. Earle Philol. Eng. Tongue (ed. 3) xii. 616   The imitation has nothing to say to the origin of the words.
1888   G. T. Stokes Ireland & Celtic Church (ed. 2) 151   With that controversy the Irish Church had nothing to say.
1904   J. T. Fowler Durham Univ. 21   The Churchmen of the North would have nothing to say to a Puritan and intrusive foundation.
1999   Korea Herald (Nexis) 20 Sept.   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 J. Frank Torres 148   Color or ethnicity had nothing to say to the fact that Sanders was a skilled lawyer of high principles.

1603—2007(Hide quotations)


 (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 Phoenix 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 Relation Ten Years Trav. xiii. 34   Your Cardinals (I'll say that for them) live like great Princes.
1703   C. Cibber She wou'd & she wou'd Not iii. 30   I'll say that for him, the Man knows his business, his Letters always come Post paid.
1734   H. Fielding Don Quixote in Eng. iii. xi. 54   Well, Master of mine, if you do get the Day you deserve it, I'll say that for you.
1824   W. Scott Redgauntlet 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 My Novel III. ix. ix. 48   No, I will say one thing for English statesmen, no man amongst them ever yet was the richer for place.
1853   E. Bulwer-Lytton My Novel III. x. xx. 202   They beat the New Yorkers in manners. I'll say that for them.
1919   ‘E. M. Delafield’ Consequences ii. xxiii. 266   She's very generous, I will say that for her.
1956   ‘B. Holiday’ & W. Dufty Lady sings Blues xix. 173   Fishman had been around before the concert was a sellout, you could say that for him.
1970   C. Egleton Piece of Resistance (1974) viii. 104   I'll say one thing for thee lad—thou's not lacking in cheek.
1975   New Yorker 1 Dec. 47/3   Houtek was a Railroad Baron and acted the part, but he liked to make others feel important too, I will say that for him.
2011   C. Sherborne Amateur Sci. of Love 70   It's a well-kempt town, I'll say that for it.

1607—2011(Hide quotations)


 (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 Russ. Jrnls. (1934) ii. 223   Her Lenity makes their Lot better perhaps than that of others, but that's saying very little for the System.
1820   C. A. Eaton Rome, in 19th Cent. 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’ Lett. (1956) VI. 253   She remarked that..if people were no wiser in their speculations about more serious subjects..it did not say much for human wisdom.
1883   I. L. Bird in J. M. Gullick They came to Malaya (1993) 5   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 Maquis i. 6   There were many crazies in the organisation. It said much for the officers at the top that the crazies were permitted.
1978   Amateur Photographer 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   New Yorker 23 Oct. 88/3   It says a lot for LaBute's skills that, when the truth finally comes out, we're poleaxed by it.

1806—2006(Hide quotations)


 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 Disobedient Child 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 Philotimus sig. S iii   It must be as the woman will, when all is said & done.
1645   D. Cawdrey Sabbatum Redivivum 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 Melius Inquirendum i. i. 82   When all is said and done, Machiavils old Rule is a Sacred Maxime with these sort of Men.
1742   London Mag. 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 Pastoral Cordial 39   And yet, when all is said and done, This Something's nothing but a Pun.
1842   Southern Planter 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 My Love! III. 244   He is a bit of a bumbler when all is said and done.
1928   M. Wilkinson Edict of Nantes (C.T.S.) 29   When all is said Bâville was responsible for a good deal of cruelty.
1937   ‘G. Orwell’ Road to Wigan Pier iv. 73   When all is said and done, the most important thing is that people shall live in decent houses and not in pigsties.
1952   M. Laski Village v. 98   After all, Friday's pay-day when all's said and done.
1981   R. Barnard Mother's Boys iv. 49   I know. Still, when all's said and done—.
2007   W. Cane Kiss like Star 55   When all's said and done, saying goodbye with a kiss is really quite romantic.

?1570—2007(Hide quotations)


 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   Willobie his Auisa xlvii. f. 43   Well, say no more: I know thy griefe.
1698   Unnatural Mother iv. 35   Well, say no more, you shall see what I'le do if you will but begin.
1784   H. Cowley More Ways than One v. 85   Poor young gentleman! Say no more—say no more.
1849   E. Bulwer-Lytton Caxtons xiii. lxxiv, in Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. June 651/2   Say no more. I understand you.
1867   All Year Round 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 Laughing Gas i. 15   ‘Then say no more,’ I said. ‘It's a go.’
1969   G. Chapman et al. Monty Python's Flying Circus (1989) I. iii. 40   Is your wife a..goer..eh? Know what I mean?..Nudge nudge. Snap snap. Grin, grin, wink, wink, say no more.
1982   N.Y. Times (Nexis) 18 June (Late City Final ed.) b3/5   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 No More Lies 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.

1594—2007(Hide quotations)


 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 Genuine Dialogue 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 Early Jrnls. & Lett. (1994) III. 332   Dr. Johnson was as brilliant as I have ever known him,—& that's saying Something.
1849   C. Brontë Let. 5 Apr. in C. Shorter C. Brontë & her Circle (1896) xvi. 440   I cannot perceive that she is feebler now than she was a month ago, though that is not saying much.
1917   E. Fenwick Diary 13 Nov. in Elsie Fenwick in Flanders (1981) 183   The worst and hardest day I've had for weeks and that's saying a good deal.
1942   E. Paul Narrow Street 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 Death cracks Bottle vi. 64   The most impecunious peer in Ireland, which is saying something.
1992   New Musical Express 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.

1736—1992(Hide quotations)


 g. to say a few words : to make a short, often extempore speech. Cf. sense A. 6a.

1808   Crit. Rev. 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 Sketches Dublin & North of Ireland xix. 220   Before the judge passed sentence on him, he requested leave to say a few words.
1888   Amer. Missionary 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.
1930   B.B.C. Year-Bk. 214   When I am suddenly called upon to ‘say a few words’.
1979   P. Nihalani et al. Indian & Brit. Eng. i. 166   The Director will introduce the new staff and ask him to say a few words.
2011   D. Cheney In my Time xiv. 461   When he finished I was asked to say a few words.

1808—2011(Hide quotations)


 (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   Florists' Rev. 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 Good Morning, Amer. 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 Hot Water vi. 114   Here's this Gedge bird shoutin' about the plumbing of this Chatty-o and not saying it with flowers, neither.
1934   Washington Post 27 Sept. 18/7   St. Louis baseball fans are going to say it with diamonds to Paul and Dizzy Dean.
2006   C. Morton How to walk in High Heels 86   Say it with diamonds, say it with flowers, say it with cake, say it with gift-wrap, but say it with meaning.
2014   Belfast Tel. (Nexis) 29 Mar. 13   It's a day to say it with chocolates! Just for Mum collection. £15.

1918—2014(Hide quotations)


 (b) With other nouns ironically substituted, especially to refer to or suggest aggressive or unchivalrous behaviour.

1922   Flower Grower 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   Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner 1 Sept. 6/4   Say it with uppercuts, right hooks and shoves.
1960   G. Mikes How to be Inimitable 33   I used to say it with flowers... More gallant, no doubt... But with cognac it is so much quicker.
1974   G. Mitchell Javelin for Jonah xiv. 175   ‘Why did you knife your science master?’ ‘We disagreed... So I say it with knives.’
2004   J. Clarkson World according to Clarkson 109   Why have an argument? Let's say it with fists.

1922—2004(Hide quotations)


 i. to say the word: see to say the word at word n. and int. Phrases 4i.


 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. 1893   with humorous inversion of subject and prepositional object.

1597   W. Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet iii. iv. 28   But what say you to Thursday.  View more context for this quotation
a1616   W. Shakespeare Taming of Shrew (1623) iv. iii. 20   How say you to a fat Tripe finely broyl'd?  View more context for this quotation
a1625   J. Fletcher Bonduca ii. iii, in F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher Comedies & Trag. (1647) sig. Gggg3v/1   What say you to a leg of Beef now, sirha?
1693   T. Southerne Maids Last Prayer iii. 34   What say you to a Pooile at Comet, At my House?
1752   H. Fielding Amelia III. viii. x. 203   What say you to..a Tiff of Punch, by Way of Whet?
1832   Eton Coll. Mag. 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 Wide Wide World 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 Uncle Tom's Cabin II. xxiii. 77   What do you say to a game of backgammon?
1893   E. Saltus Madam Sapphira 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   Melody Maker Jan. 20/2   What do you say to a beaker of ‘the boy’?
1930   A. Ransome Swallows & Amazons ix. 96   ‘What would you say to a bit of toffee?’ said Mrs Dixon.
1948   M. Laski Tory Heaven vi. 84   I'm getting a bit peckish... What do you say to us going out and looking for a bite?
1997   R. Bennett Catastrophist (1999) 210   ‘What would you say to a drink?’ he asks.
2011   O. Wilde Dawn of Silva vii. 49   What do you say to going fishing?

1597—2011(Hide quotations)


 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 Daisie's Dream I. ix. 126   Tea! No, thank you..! But I wouldn't say ‘no’ to a nip of brandy.
1908   B. Matthews & G. H. Jessop Gold Mine 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 Before Lunch iv. 85   I wouldn't say no to toast and honey.
1980   D. T. Homel tr. L. Caron Draft Dodger ii. 101   ‘Come in, I'll give you something to drink.’ ‘I won't say no!’
2011   J. Stanton Blessing of Burntisland 149   ‘How about a snifter to brighten up the journey?’.. ‘Wouldn't say no to a brandy.’

1869—2011(Hide quotations)


 c. who says ——? : (with an item of food or drink as object) who would like ——? Now somewhat archaic.

1880   St. Nicholas 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 Slum Silhouettes 158   ‘Who says pudden? Mister What's It—a little piece?’
1905   South Metrop. Gas Company Co-partnership Jrnl. Nov. 242   The steward said, ‘Who says tea?’ and he brought us each a cup which was very refreshing.
1910   H. G. Wells Hist. Mr. Polly vi. 193   Sit down, everyone... Who says steak-and-kidney pie?
1948   Punch 25 Feb. 170 (caption)    In the hereafter: ‘Who says tea?’
1988   D. H. Souter Ticket in Tatts 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.

1880—1988(Hide quotations)

 d. colloquial.

 (a) what (also how) say : = what do you say (if) at Phrases 8d(b).

1825   J. Neal Brother Jonathan I. 357   ‘Was he hurt, uncle Harwood?’ ‘What say?’
1838   C. Gilman Recoll. Southern Matron v. 39   The common southern expression is Oh? or What say? pronounced almost like one word.
1855   W. G. Simms Forayers 52   What 'say, boys—won't a back-and-rush of the nags do it?
1886   Harper's Mag. Dec. 42/1   I say they are fools if they didn't. What say?
1911   Atlantic Monthly Feb. 189/2   What say we play house with your'n, and we take mine home to yer maw so she won't jaw?
1934   S. Lewis Work of Art 294   I think it would be fun to run up the Hudson to Ye Bunche of Grapes some noon. What say?
1948   E. Waugh Loved One (1951) 27   How say I give you a ring next week sometime?
1972   ‘B. Graeme’ Tomorrow's Yesterday iii. 32   What say we have coffee at home for once?
2004   S. Hall Electric Michelangelo 71   What say I take you for a jar and we discuss this thing further along in comfort.

1825—2004(Hide quotations)


 (b) 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   Magnet 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’ Squatter's Dream xix. 238   What do you say if I go run-hunting with you?
1917   Internat. Stereotypers & Electrotypers Union Jrnl. July 15/1   What say you if we drop into the Call and talk it over with Fitzsimmons?
1920   S. Lewis Main St. 195   What do you say we go down to Jack Elder's and have a game of five hundred?
1936   A. Rand We the Living ii. xiv. 494   Well, then, what do you say if we make a bargain?
1952   J. Clagett Cradle of Sun vii. 74   Valera, what say you we go to Cadiz?
a1961   D. Hammett First Thin Man in K. McCauley et al. Nightmare Town (1999) 362   What do you say you do some detective-story reviews for my page?
1980   M. Gilbert Death of Favourite Girl ii. 23   What do you say we go outside and get a breath of fresh air?
2000   S. M. Warsh To die in Spring vii. 57   What do you say we go for some Chinese.

1844—2000(Hide quotations)


 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 Phrases 8a.

1660   Exact Accompt Trial Regicides 181   How say you, is the prisoner at the Bar guilty of the Treason whereof he stands indicted?
1742   Select Trials Old-Bailey (new ed.) IV. 33   You of the Jury, look upon the Prisoner; how say you?
1760   A. Murphy Way to keep Him i. 14   How say ye?—Gentlemen of the jury?
1810   Belfast Monthly Mag. Aug. 125/1   Clerk. What say you?.. Foreman. William Penn is guilty.
1893   Atlanta Constit. 27 Aug. 9/3   The officer of the court put the usual question, ‘How say you?’
1968   C. E. Rosenberg Trial of Assassin Guiteau viii. 223   What say you? Is the defendant guilty or not guilty?
1991   M. Wilcox Green Fingers i. ii. 5   How say you Antony Pringle, are you guilty or not guilty?
2009   K. Flynn Wicked Intentions (2010) 332   On the case of..the first-degree murder of Michael Deloge, how say you?

1660—2009(Hide quotations)

 P10. In phrases used conversationally as stock replies, typically to express agreement or request clarification.
 a. you don't say so. Now more commonly (originally U.S.) you don't say.

 (a) Used to express surprise, doubt, or disbelief in response to a statement or comment.

1696   T. Southerne Oroonoko iii. iii. 43   Marry'd! you don't say so I hope!
1763   I. Bickerstaff Love in Village 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 Early Jrnls. & Lett. (1994) III. 244   No?—you don't say so?
1842   S. Kettell Quozziana 14   ‘We shall have an explosion before long, that will shake the State of Massachusetts to its uttermost foundations.’ ‘You don't say so!’ exclaimed I, in unfeigned alarm.
1873   R. Broughton Nancy xvi   ‘You do not say so!’ cry I, in some astonishment.
1899   R. Whiteing No. 5 John St. xiv. 128   You don't say so; why, I'm going to a meeting at his mother's house.
1912   C. E. Mulford & J. W. Clay Buck Peters, Ranchman iv. 84   ‘An' I could never see how he done it.’ ‘You—don't—say,’ was Buck's thoughtful comment.
a1978   S. T. Warner One Thing leading to Another (1985) 70   ‘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 Murder begets Murder xiii. 83   ‘Heard the latest, Bert?.. That young filly was murdered.’ ‘You don't say, sir!’
2003   J. Murray Jazz vi. 122   You don't say? Well well.

1696—2003(Hide quotations)


 (b) Used ironically or sarcastically to suggest that someone is stating the obvious.

1909   Friend 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 Magnolia St. i. x. 171   ‘Father, indeed!.. As much 'is father as I'm Queen Alexandra!’ ‘You don't say!’ murmured Mr. Briggs.
1943   S. Jameson Cloudless May lxxviii. 463   ‘You don't say so!’ Labenne said ironically.
1962   N. Marsh Hand in Glove ii. 67   ‘The Scorpion's not here, George.’ ‘You don't say,’ Mr. Copper bitterly rejoined.
2011   Independent 14 Nov. 15/4   Ugly..men have a tough time of it on dating websites. You don't say.

1909—2011(Hide quotations)


 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 To marry, or not to Marry ii. ii. 34   ‘Without her own express desire, I cannot give up her.’ ‘Well, if you say so.’
1884   Househ. Words 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 War in Heaven 121   At last the Duke said, shrugging his shoulders, ‘Well, if you say so.’
1956   H. Kurnitz Invasion of Privacy iii. 30   ‘Okay. We've got a deal.’.. ‘If you say so, George. Anything you say.’
1976   J. Bingham God's Defector vii. 101   ‘You can..watch who goes in, can't you?’ ‘If you say so.’ ‘I do say so.’
2001   C. Glazebrook Madolescents 235   ‘This is it, Dean. A true love job,’ I assure him. ‘Wicked, innit?’ ‘If you say so.’

1805—2001(Hide quotations)

 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 Traits & Stories Irish Peasantry 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   Centralia (Wisconsin) Enterprise & Tribune 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 Taste of Honey (1960) 73   Geof: She likes to make an effect. Jo: Like me? Geof: You said it.
1991   D. Lucie Fashion (rev. ed.) ii. iii, in Fashion, Progress, Hard Feelings, Doing the Business 79   Eric I'm not principled enough. Stuart You said it.
2004   J. Harvey Wishful Thinking ix. 270   ‘I'm a bloke: remember? I keep my brains in my dick.’ ‘You said it.’

1833—2004(Hide quotations)


 (b) Originally U.S. Used to express strong agreement with what someone has said; ‘you are quite right’, ‘I agree with you entirely’.

1911   Chicago Tribune 11 Apr. 21/2   ‘They'll be sore when they wake up. Dirty shame!’ ‘You said it.’
1929   E. Linklater Poet's Pub ii. 34   ‘Peace is too exciting..’ said Joan. ‘You've said it, Miss Benbow.’
1947   ‘N. Blake’ Minute for Murder i. 9   ‘What do they find?’ ‘Chay-oh [i.e. chaos],’ replied Nigel... ‘You said it.’
1970   N. Streatfeild Thursday's Child vii. 52   ‘It is a big place, there must be a lot of servants needed.’.. ‘You've said it.’
1996   A. Ghosh Calcutta Chromosome (1997) ix. 57   ‘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 Missing Person x. 133   ‘It's a criminal overallocation of valuable resources.’ ‘You said it, man.’

1911—2005(Hide quotations)


 (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   Collier's 20 May 32/3   ‘Are you going to bet on him?’ ‘Says which?’
1937   Washington Post 19 June 2/3   ‘Says which?’ asked the perplexed Sancho Panza.
1947   National Road Traveler (Cambridge City, Indiana) 14 Aug. 9   ‘For cotton or for silk?’ inquired the druggist. ‘Says which,’ asked the little pickaninny. ‘What does she want it for?’

1916—1947(Hide quotations)


 (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   Ball State Univ. Forum Autumn 4/2   ‘And you better get off him,’ Emma shouted. ‘Say what?’ asked the man.
1992   V. Vinge Fire upon Deep i. ix. 97   ‘Um.’ Say what? ‘That's wonderful.’
2003   G. Saunders in Esquire Sept. 192   Say what? said Uncle Matt... The dog has had trouble in his life?

1977—2003(Hide quotations)

 e. colloquial. I'll say, I'd say: used to express (usually emphatic) agreement.

 (a) With clause as object.

1919   Cincinnati Enquirer 17 Apr. 4/7   ‘Smith is an argumentative cuss, isn't he?,’ said Brown. ‘I'll say he is,’ agreed Jones.
1945   P. Cheyney (title)    I'll say she does.
1972   G. Durrell Catch me Colobus v. 95   Would we, by any chance, be interested in a pair of leopards? ‘I'll say we would! Why? Do you know where there are some?’
2001   J. O. Patterson Jeff's Route ix. 63   Jeff said, ‘I hear Frank got a strapping when he got home.’ ‘I'll say he did,’ said Don.
2011   E. Moon Kings of North xviii. 203   ‘She's mostly angry and frustrated, I'd say.’ ‘I'd say she is,’ Arian said.

1919—2011(Hide quotations)


 (b) In I'll say so, I'd say so.

1917   Emporia (Kansas) Gaz. 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 In Search of Scotl. ii. 46   ‘You have seen the Crown Jewels in London?’ ‘I'll say so! They're an eyeful.’
1992   C. Toibin Heather Blazing (1993) viii. 103   ‘You'll probably come back with your father.’ ‘I'd say so, all right.’

1917—1992(Hide quotations)


 (c) Without object or adverbial complement.

1924   Dial. Notes 5 276   Say: I'd ——, I'll —— (both approv.).
1943   N. Marsh Colour Scheme vi. 99   ‘Does he want to keep him quiet?’.. ‘I'll say! Too right he wants to keep him quiet.’
1979   ‘J. le Carré’ Smiley's People (1980) iv. 53   ‘He was a declining asset, as all ex-agents are.’.. ‘I'll say,’ said Strickland sotto voce.
2001   J. Fforde Eyre Affair iv. 37   ‘A bit childish, isn't it?’ ‘I'd say,’ replied Tamworth.
2001   J. Harvey Gimme Gimme Gimme (2002) 140/2   Jez: As Suze is with child, flying is out of the question. Suze: I'll say.

1924—2001(Hide quotations)


 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 Two Plays 91   Sure, I know—I was only sayin'.
1943   I. Wolfert Tucker's People ix. 188   I'm not knocking. I'm just saying.
1968   R. Roberts Imprisoned Tongues v. 58   I was jus' sayin'. No offence!
1997   K. O'Riordan Boy in Moon i. 8   ‘What's that got to do with anything?’ ‘I'm only saying.’
2013   Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) (Nexis) 30 June c1   It'd be a hard pill for Boehner to swallow... Just sayin'.

1925—2013(Hide quotations)


 g. slang (originally 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 A. 1c(b).Also sez who?, sez me, etc.: see sez v.

1927   P. Dunning & G. Abbott Broadway: Play ii. 108   Steve's a fine fellow and he's just out for some innocent fun—Says you—Says I—.
1931   M. E. Gilman Sob Sister x. 143   We can park a car there and spoon—says who!
1938   C. B. Kelland Dreamland vii. 86   ‘Miss Higg, you are guilty of reprehensible waste.’ ‘Says Who?’ ‘Says me.’
1951   P. G. Wodehouse Old Reliable iv. 53   Says you, if I may use a homely phrase indicating doubt and uncertainty.
1971   Black World June 81/2   ‘I just asked.’ ‘Had no business asking.’ ‘Says who?’ ‘Me, stupid!’
1981   M. C. Smith Gorky Park iii. iii. 328   ‘He's a murderer.’ ‘Says you.’
2001   M. Ravenhill Mother Clap's Molly House 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. Thick of It: Scripts Episode 3. 86   Oh yes, says who? Oh, the Prime Minister told you that? Well, get you.

1927—2007(Hide quotations)


 h. colloquial (originally 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   Oakland (Calif.) Tribune 30 July 11 (cartoon)    ‘Those girls we met across the lake are worth a crack on the head...’ ‘You can say that again.’
1950   Sun (Baltimore) 1 May 12/2   The Senator wrote..that he did not ‘believe that savings caused by decreases in essential services constitute constructive economy.’ Senator Lehman can say that again.
1967   R. Dahl Charlie & Chocolate Factory xvii. 67   ‘Mrs. Gloop doesn't think it's at all funny!’ ‘You can say that again!’ said Mrs. Gloop.
1973   Nature 12 Oct. 339/2   ‘I feel that here is an area that has not been thought out completely’, he writes; he can say that again.
1981   R. Barnard Mother's Boys vii. 70   ‘These teenagers are all alike, aren't they?’ ‘You can say that again,’ snarled Lill.
2002   J. McGahern That they may face Rising Sun (2003) 137   ‘People don't always get what they're entitled to.’ ‘You can say that again,’ he said with relish.

1932—2002(Hide quotations)


 i. Originally and chiefly U.S. say again: (originally and chiefly in radio communication) used to request the repetition or clarification of a statement.

1942   Tee Emm (Air Ministry) 2 64   If the R/T transmission is a bit distorted, ‘Say again’ is a set expression.
1972   Flying Mag. Mar. 19/2   November 37 Tango, this is Denver Center, say again.
1999   M. Bradford Under Same Heaven xxxiv. 290   ‘She's the county's next Delight Diviner.’ ‘Say again?’
2011   J. A. McCartin Collision Course i. 16   ‘Say again,’ Rock responded. ‘There's been a collision,’ said the pilot.

1942—2011(Hide quotations)


 P11. In concessive clauses, as having said that, that said, that being said: even though this is the case; even so; nevertheless.

1820   Rep. Proc. House of Lords Bill of Pains & Penalties 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   Manitoba Morning Free Press 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   Times 14 Aug. 5/2   That said, there is little to criticize in the performance last night.
1986   C. Snyder Strategic Def. Deb. 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   Film Comment Nov. 62/2   That said, the new pic does have a dotty Capraesque charm.
2006   Family Circle 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!

1820—2006(Hide quotations)



 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 Alice II. v. v. 144   She herself, with her quiet, say-nothing-manner, slips through all my careless questionings.
1853   G. P. R. James Agnes Sorel I. ix. 189   One of your discreet, see-everything, say-nothing serving-men.
1901   Southwestern Reporter 59 353/1   He is a say-nothing kind of a young man... He looks like a dullard to me.
1994   Sat. Night (Toronto) 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. Media Writing xiii. 356   An editor is likely to axe a say-nothing sentence like ‘I'm very proud of my company's success.’
2007   Guardian (Nexis) 2 Apr. (Features) 9   A simpering, say-anything, dough-faced, preposterous waddling idiot.

1838—2007(Hide quotations)


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. 1694); cf. spin-text n.

1694   W. Congreve Double-dealer 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 Refl. Stage 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 Winter Evenings I. iii. ii. 243   The race of formal spintexts and solemn say-graces is nearly extinct.

1694—1788(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, June 2015; most recently modified version published online September 2022).

In this entry:

In other dictionaries: