Definition of say in English:

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Pronunciation: /sā/

verb (says /sez/; past and past participle said /sed/)

1 [reporting verb] Utter words so as to convey information, an opinion, a feeling or intention, or an instruction: [with direct speech]: “Thank you,” he said [with clause]: he said the fund stood at $100,000 [with object]: our parents wouldn’t believe a word we said [with infinitive]: he said to come early
More example sentences
  • All of us at some time in our lives have to stand up and say a few words in public, whether to give away a bride, move a vote of thanks or make a presentation.
  • He struggled to recall clearly the words the priest had said to him almost a year earlier.
  • Only now as I stood in the airport did I realise that she really had not understood a word I was saying.
speak, utter, voice, pronounce, give voice to, vocalize
declare, state, announce, remark, observe, mention, comment, note, add;
reply, respond, answer, rejoin
informal come out with
claim, maintain, assert, hold, insist, contend;
allege, profess
formal opine, aver
express, put into words, phrase, articulate, communicate, make known, put/get across, convey, verbalize;
reveal, divulge, impart, disclose;
imply, suggest
1.1(Of a text or a symbolic representation) convey specified information or instructions: [with clause]: the law says such behavior is an offense
More example sentences
  • Chris, in a murder case we know the black and white letter of the law says the state does not have to prove motive.
  • The text of the affidavit says that it was completed and signed by her.
  • I got a text saying I had won £1000 and all I had to do was claim it by calling a number.
1.2 [with object] Enable a listener or reader to learn or understand something by conveying or revealing (information or ideas): I don’t want to say too much figurative the movie’s title says it all
More example sentences
  • The title says it all, because this is certainly a lot less dangerous.
  • This is arguably the most persuasive riposte to the erroneous notion that Western cinema says it all.
  • She says more in twenty-five words than many writers do in a thousand.
1.3 [with object] (Of a clock or watch) indicate (a specified time): the clock says ten past two
More example sentences
  • The sun was still behind a mountain, but his watch said seven minutes past official sunup.
  • My back was damp from the moss and my watch said four hours had passed.
  • She turns and looks at her alarm clock which says eight o'clock.
indicate, show, read
1.4 (be said) Be asserted or reported (often used to avoid committing the speaker or writer to the truth of the assertion): [with infinitive]: they were said to be training freedom fighters [with clause]: it is said that she lived to be over a hundred
More example sentences
  • The author of the report that was said to be prejudicial was called as a witness.
  • They also adduced what was said to be a report from the local Meteorological Station.
  • His failure, it is said, calls into question his motives in serving as a juror in the trial.
1.5 [with object] (say something for) Present a consideration in favor of or excusing (someone or something): all I can say for him is that he’s a better writer than some
More example sentences
  • Looking forward, he hopes the weather improves but says the prospects for milk prices don't look good.
  • Well, it says a lot for a man in his early twenties to be able to give a voice to that indescribable pain that every adolescent girl experiences.
  • Well, there is something to be said for watching a film on a 30 foot tall screen with surround sound.
1.6 [with object] Utter the whole of (a speech or other set of words, typically one learned in advance): we say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning
More example sentences
  • The funeral goes as planned, everyone says their speeches memorializing this woman to whom they now say goodbye forever.
  • See, the difference between saying a speech in class and acting with my group is a really big one.
  • Cameron had to say his speech in front of the class and he basically freaked out.
recite, repeat, utter, deliver, perform, declaim, orate
2 [with clause] Assume something in order to work out what its consequences would be; make a hypothesis: let’s say we pay five thousand dollars in the first year
suppose, assume, imagine, presume, hypothesize, postulate, posit
2.1Used parenthetically to indicate that something is being suggested as possible or likely but not certain: the form might include, say, a dozen questions
More example sentences
  • Then go find someone else in a different line of work - say, someone with a home office.
  • In this system, the taoiseach would be elected for a fixed term - say, four years.
  • This scheme lends itself to the use of coins as scoring tokens; say, a nickel per point perhaps.


North American informal
Used to express surprise or to draw attention to a remark or question: say, did you notice any blood?


[in singular]
1An opportunity for stating one’s opinion or feelings: the voters are entitled to have their say on the treaty
More example sentences
  • Listeners to radio will also be given an opportunity to have their say through phone-ins.
  • Speaking as a politician at any venue is merely an opportunity for that man to have his say.
  • And if you want to have your say, exchange ideas, opinions and experiences, it's the only place to be.
chance to speak, turn to speak, opinion, view, voice
informal two cents, two cents' worth
1.1An opportunity to influence developments and policy: the assessor will have a say in how the money is spent the households concerned would still have some say in what happened
More example sentences
  • Real partnership means all participants benefit and all have a say in developments.
  • Can you also explain why Industry has a say in policy development.
  • Lastly, keep in mind that children like variation and to have a say in what they do.
influence, sway, weight, voice, input, share, part



go without saying

Be obvious: it goes without saying that teachers must be selected with care
Translating French (cela) va sans dire
More example sentences
  • It goes without saying that very few of these people have any specialized knowledge of African art history.
  • It goes without saying that the sub-genre of rock opera lies uneasily within the larger categories of opera and rock music.
  • It goes without saying that medicine has also seen some fantastic innovation during the last 20 years.

have something to say for oneself

Contribute to a conversation or discussion, especially as an explanation for one’s behavior or actions: haven’t you anything to say for yourself?
More example sentences
  • Like thousands of other people across webland, I've fancied starting a weblog for a while now, but only held back due to not really having a lot to say for myself.
  • They have well-paid careers, are more in charge and have a lot to say for themselves.
  • He'll have something to say for himself, I can tell you.

how say you?

Law How do you find? (addressed to the jury when requesting its verdict).

I (or he, she, etc.) cannot (or could not) say

I (or he, she, etc.) do not know.
Example sentences
  • He said the four doors of the ill-fated coach were bolted though he could not say whether they were closed from inside or outside.
  • At this stage he cannot say if he will produce any more music, but if inspiration strikes, who knows.
  • He thinks he got a touch of the ball but everything was happening in a blur and he cannot say for certain.

I'll say

informal Used to express emphatic agreement: “That was a good landing.” “I’ll say!”

I must (or have to) say

I cannot refrain from saying (used to emphasize an opinion): you have a nerve, I must say!
More example sentences
  • I have to say, though, that their album is the most appropriately titled album that I can think of.
  • I have to say that in general, the English do a much better job of translating books to film.
  • I have to say, though, that as fond as I am of the show, I've not seen it for a while.

I say

1Used to offer a suggestion or opinion: I say we go back down together
2British dated Used to express surprise or to draw attention to a remark: I say, that’s a bit much!

I wouldn't say no

informal Used to indicate that one would like something.
Example sentences
  • Although right now, if someone were to offer me a plump chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto and smokey fontina cheese smothered in a crimini and heavy cream sauce, I wouldn't say no.
  • All I said was that, if the he was hit with an injury crisis that robbed him of all his strikers and so came to me to fill-in for one game, I wouldn't say no.
  • Well I've had a few rums, but I wouldn't say no.

not to say

Used to introduce a stronger alternative or addition to something already said: it is easy to become sensitive, not to say paranoid
More example sentences
  • Were anyone to make such claims nowadays, they would be treated with considerable reserve, not to say great scepticism.
  • In the United States each system had its determined, not to say bigoted, supporters.
  • Emma is content, not to say downright pleased with herself.

say no more

informal Used to indicate that one understands what someone is trying to imply.

says you!

informal Used in speech to express disagreement or disbelief: “He’s guilty.” “Says you! I think he’s innocent.”

say when

informal Said when helping someone to food or drink to instruct them to indicate when they have enough.
Example sentences
  • When it comes to work, a lot of us have a little problem: we don't know when to say when.

say the word

Give permission or instructions to do something.
Example sentences
  • The minute he says the word, the throne is yours.
  • And if there is anything else I can help you with, just say the word.
  • ‘It's not far from here, but if you get tired, just say the word and I can carry you!’

that is to say

see that.
in other words, to put it another way;
i.e., that is, to wit, viz., namely

there is no saying

It is impossible to know.
Example sentences
  • There is no saying what the effects might be: they might conceivably transform the world.
  • And if she finds our hospitals Victorian, there is no saying what she might make of the atmosphere in some of England's most respected public schools, where discipline is often as heavily emphasised as education.
  • And although Scotland occasionally leads in negotiations in Brussels, there is no saying how well recognised that is by partner countries which can exploit the UK's ambiguous position.

they say

It is rumored.
Example sentences
  • Like they say, there are stranger things in heaven and earth than we can imagine.
  • Undoubtedly, they say, new technology will mean big changes in the ways films are watched and made.
  • Cultural neglect, they say, reflects social neglect, and it becomes a vicious circle.

to say nothing of

another way of saying not to mention (see mention).

to say the least

see least.

what do (or would) you say

Used to make a suggestion or offer: what do you say to a glass of wine?
More example sentences
  • What would you say to a new record from the band?
  • Liza, what would you say to leaving this business behind?
  • What would you say to a nice cup of tea?

when all is said and done

When everything is taken into account (used to indicate that one is making a generalized judgment about a situation).
Example sentences
  • But when all is said and done, we have been blessed with one great big and beautiful country of which we can all be proud.
  • It's kind of hard when you have to look and watch every dime that you make and difficult knowing that when all is said and done at the end of the day, you're just not going to have enough money.
  • But when all is said and done, Moore is a millionaire, and the success of this movie will move him even further up the ladder.

you can say that again!

informal Used in spoken English to express emphatic agreement.
Example sentences
  • ‘Are you guys all right? I know that wasn't the smoothest car ride.’ ‘You can say that again,‘I said, my toe still throbbing.
  • It's not something we can predict too far in advance. You can say that again.
  • Jesse cocked his head to one side, muttering, ‘you can say that again’.

you don't say!

informal Used to express amazement or disbelief.

you said it!

informal Used to express the feeling that someone’s words are true or appropriate.



Example sentences
  • The challenge of translating the richness and complexity of Aeschylus's language into a poetically charged but sayable English that was still faithful to the original Greek did indeed distract me from the pain that I was living through.
  • She pushes the limits of what is sayable, pushes the limits of language, and with them, the limits of law.
  • What someone from one culture is thinking may not be fully sayable in the language of another culture.


[usually in combination]: naysayers
More example sentences
  • Until recently, our committee was full of sayers, not doers, and we didn't exactly work overtime to encourage youngsters to flock to the club.
  • And before you know it, you'll hear all the nay-sayers talking about something else.
  • Industrial interests are as capable of suppression as individual nay-sayers.


Old English secgan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zeggen and German sagen.

  • Old English secgan is of Germanic origin, related to Dutch zeggen and German sagen. Say, speak, and tell are near-synonyms but say is usually followed by the words or statement actually said, giving the verb the sense ‘utter, declare’. When all is said and done dates from the mid 16th century; to say it with flowers was an early 20th century advertising slogan of the Society of American Florists. You can say that again was originally a US usage from the 1940s. The phrase I say, I say, I say to introduce a joke is first recorded from the 1960s.

Words that rhyme with say

affray, agley, aka, allay, Angers, A-OK, appellation contrôlée, array, assay, astray, au fait, auto-da-fé, away, aweigh, aye, bay, belay, betray, bey, Bombay, Bordet, boulevardier, bouquet, brae, bray, café au lait, Carné, cassoulet, Cathay, chassé, chevet, chez, chiné, clay, convey, Cray, crème brûlée, crudités, cuvée, cy-pres, day, decay, deejay, dégagé, distinguée, downplay, dray, Dufay, Dushanbe, eh, embay, engagé, essay, everyday, faraway, fay, fey, flay, fray, Frey, fromage frais, gainsay, Gaye, Genet, giclee, gilet, glissé, gray, grey, halfway, hay, heigh, hey, hooray, Hubei, Hué, hurray, inveigh, jay, jeunesse dorée, José, Kay, Kaye, Klee, Kray, Lae, lay, lei, Littré, Lough Neagh, lwei, Mae, maguey, Malay, Mallarmé, Mandalay, Marseilles, may, midday, midway, mislay, misplay, Monterrey, Na-Dene, nay, né, née, neigh, Ney, noway, obey, O'Dea, okay, olé, outlay, outplay, outstay, outweigh, oyez, part-way, pay, Pei, per se, pince-nez, play, portray, pray, prey, purvey, qua, Quai d'Orsay, Rae, rangé, ray, re, reflet, relevé, roman-à-clef, Santa Fé, sei, Shar Pei, shay, slay, sleigh, sley, spae, spay, Spey, splay, spray, stay, straightaway, straightway, strathspey, stray, Sui, survey, sway, Taipei, Tay, they, today, tokay, Torbay, Tournai, trait, tray, trey, two-way, ukiyo-e, underlay, way, waylay, Wei, weigh, wey, Whangarei, whey, yea

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: say

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