From Middle English seyen, seien, seggen, from Old English seċġan (“to say, speak”), from Proto-West Germanic *saggjan, from Proto-Germanic *sagjaną (“to say”), from Proto-Indo-European *sokʷ-h₁-yé-, a suffixed o-grade form of *sekʷ- (“to tell, talk”).
Cognate with West Frisian sizze (“to say”), Dutch zeggen (“to say”), German sagen (“to say”), Danish sige (“to say”), Norwegian Bokmål si (“to say”), Norwegian Nynorsk seia (“to say”), Swedish säga (“to say”), Yiddish זאָגן (zogn, “to say; to tell”).
The adverb and interjection are from the verb.
- (transitive) To pronounce.
- Please say your name slowly and clearly.
- (transitive) To recite.
- Martha, will you say the Pledge of Allegiance?
- 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter VIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 4293071, pages 53-54:
- Then everybody once more knelt, and soon the blessing was pronounced. The choir and the clergy trooped out slowly, […], down the nave to the western door. […] At a seemingly immense distance the surpliced group stopped to say the last prayer.
- (transitive) To tell, either verbally or in writing.
- He said he would be here tomorrow.
- 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter IV, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698, page 46:
- No matter how early I came down, I would find him on the veranda, smoking cigarettes, or otherwise his man would be there with a message to say that his master would shortly join me if I would kindly wait.
- 2016, VOA Learning English (public domain)
- I want to say I’m sorry for yesterday. — It’s okay, Anna.
Audio (US) (file)
- I want to say I’m sorry for yesterday. — It’s okay, Anna.
- (transitive) To indicate in a written form.
- The sign says it’s 50 kilometres to Paris.
- (impersonal, transitive) To have a common expression; used in singular passive voice or plural active voice to indicate a rumor or well-known fact.
- They say "when in Rome, do as the Romans do", which means "behave as those around you do."
- 1815, George Gordon Byron, The Hebrew Melodies/They say that Hope is happiness:
- They say that Hope is happiness; But genuine Love must prize the past.
- 1819, Great Britain Court of Chancery, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the High Court of Chancery, page 8:
- It is said, a bargain cannot be set aside upon inadequacy only.
- 1841, Christopher Marshall, The Knickerbocker (New-York Monthly Magazine), page 379:
- It’s said that fifteen wagon loads of ready-made clothes for the Virginia troops came to, and stay in, town to-night.
- (informal, imperative, transitive) Suppose, assume; used to mark an example, supposition or hypothesis.
- A holiday somewhere warm – Florida, say – would be nice.
- Say he refuses. What do we do then?
- Say your family is starving and you don't have any money, is it okay to steal some food?
- 1984, Martin Amis, Money: a suicide note
- I've followed Selina down the strip, when we're shopping, say, and she strolls on ahead, wearing sawn-off jeans and a wash-withered T-shirt […]
- (intransitive) To speak; to express an opinion; to make answer; to reply.
- c. 1598–1600, William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene ii], page 195:
- You have said; but whether wisely or no, let the forest judge
- (transitive, informal, of a possession, especially money) To bet as a wager on an outcome; by extension, used to express belief in an outcome by the speaker.
|present||I say||we say||I am saying||we are saying||I have said||we have said||I have been saying||we have been saying|
|you say||you say||you are saying||you are saying||you have said||you have said||you have been saying||you have been saying|
|he says||they say||he is saying||they are saying||he has said||they have said||he has been saying||they have been saying|
|past||I said||we said||I was saying||we were saying||I had said||we had said||I had been saying||we had been saying|
|you said||you said||you were saying||you were saying||you had said||you had said||you had been saying||you had been saying|
|he said||they said||he was saying||they were saying||he had said||they had said||he had been saying||they had been saying|
|future||I will say||we will say||I will be saying||we will be saying||I will have said||we will have said||I will have been saying||we will have been saying|
|you will say||you will say||you will be saying||you will be saying||you will have said||you will have said||you will have been saying||you will have been saying|
|he will say||they will say||he will be saying||they will be saying||he will have said||they will have said||he will have been saying||they will have been saying|
|conditional||I would say||we would say||I would be saying||we would be saying||I would have said||we would have said||I would have been saying||we would have been saying|
|you would say||you would say||you would be saying||you would be saying||you would have said||you would have said||you would have been saying||you would have been saying|
|he would say||they would say||he would be saying||they would be saying||he would have said||they would have said||he would have been saying||they would have been saying|
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
say (plural says)
- A chance to speak; the right or power to influence or make a decision.
- 2004, Richard Rogers, Information politics on the Web:
- Above all, however, we would like to think that there is more to be decided, after the engines and after the humans have had their says.
- 2019 February 8, Olarn, Kocha; Regan, Helen, “This princess could be the next prime minister of Thailand”, in CNN International Edition, Cable News Network, retrieved 2019-02-08:
- He has consolidated the military's role in politics through an army-drafted 2017 constitution widely seen as designed to prevent Pheu Thai from returning to power and ensuring a continuing say for the army.
- 2019 March 22, Tanakasempipat, Patpicha; Thepgumpanat, Panarat, “Junta chief croons, ousted PM says 'we will win' in Thai election battle”, in Reuters, Reuters, retrieved 2019-03-23:
- Sunday’s general election has been cast as a high-stakes contest between democracy and military rule, but critics say a new army-backed constitution gives junta-appointed officials a large say in the next government.
say (not comparable)
- For example; let us assume.
- Pick a color you think they'd like, say, peach.
- He was driving pretty fast, say, fifty miles per hour.
- (colloquial) Used to gain someone's attention before making an inquiry or suggestion
- Say, what did you think about the movie?
- (used to gain attention): hey
- say in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
- “say” in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- A type of fine cloth similar to serge.
- 1579, Immeritô [pseudonym; Edmund Spenser], “August. Aegloga Octaua.”, in The Shepheardes Calender: […], London: […] Hugh Singleton, […], OCLC 606515406; republished as The Shepheardes Calender […], London: […] Iohn Wolfe for Iohn Harrison the yonger, […], 1586, OCLC 837880809, folio 32, recto:
- Per.[igot] VVell decked in a frocke of gray, / Will.[y] hey ho, gray is greet, / Per. And in a kirtle of greene ſaye, / Will. the greene is for maydens meete.
Aphetic form of assay.
say (plural says)
- Trial by sample; assay; specimen.
- 1594–1597, Richard Hooker, J[ohn] S[penser], editor, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, […], London: […] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, OCLC 931154958, (please specify the page):, page 193
- If those principal works of God […] be but certain tastes and says, as if were, of that final benefit.
- c. 1603–1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of King Lear”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene iii], page 308:
- Thy tongue some say of breeding breathes.
- Tried quality; temper; proof.
- Essay; trial; attempt.
- 1610 (first performance), Ben[jamin] Jonson, The Alchemist, London: […] Thomas Snodham, for Walter Burre, and are to be sold by Iohn Stepneth, […], published 1612, OCLC 1008120557; reprinted Menston, Yorkshire: The Scolar Press, 1970, OCLC 52009618, (please specify the page), (please specify the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
- This fellow, Captaine, Will come, in time, to be a great distiller, And giue a say […] at the philosophers stone.
say (plural says)
- Mirjejev, V. A.; Usejinov, S. M. (2002) Ukrajinsʹko-krymsʹkotatarsʹkyj slovnyk [Ukrainian – Crimean Tatar Dictionary], Simferopol: Dolya, →ISBN
- Alternative form of
- Obsolete spelling of
- (Hà Nội) IPA(key): [saj˧˧]
- (Huế) IPA(key): [ʂaj˧˧]
- (Hồ Chí Minh City) IPA(key): [ʂa(ː)j˧˧] ~ [sa(ː)j˧˧]
- to be drunk; to be inebriated
- (by extension) to be (car, sea, etc.) sick
- (figuratively) to be enamoured of; to take a deep interest in