See also: Say, sầy, sẩy, sậy, şay, and saþ


English Wikipedia has an article on:


  • enPR: , IPA(key): /seɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪ

Etymology 1

From Middle English seyen, seien, seggen, from Old English seċġan (to say, speak), 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).

The adverb and interjection are from the verb.


say (third-person singular simple present says, present participle saying, simple past and past participle said)

  1. (transitive) To pronounce.
    Please say your name slowly and clearly.
  2. (transitive) To recite.
    Martha, will you say the Pledge of Allegiance?
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 5, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      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.
  3. To tell, either verbally or in writing.
    He said he would be here tomorrow.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      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.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in A Cuckoo in the Nest[1]:
      She was like a Beardsley Salome, he had said. And indeed she had the narrow eyes and the high cheekbone of that creature, and as nearly the sinuosity as is compatible with human symmetry. His wooing had been brief but incisive.
    • 2016, VOA Learning English (public domain)
      I want to say I’m sorry for yesterday. - It’s okay, Anna.
  4. To indicate in a written form.
    The sign says it’s 50 kilometres to Paris.
  5. (impersonal) 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.
  6. (informal, imperative) 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 ok 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 []
  7. (intransitive) To speak; to express an opinion; to make answer; to reply.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      You have said; but whether wisely or no, let the forest judge.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      To this argument we shall soon have said; for what concerns it us to hear a husband divulge his household privacies?
  8. (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.
    • 2005, Ian McEwan, Saturday, page 192:
      'My fifty pounds says three months after the invasion there'll be a free press in Iraq, and unmonitored internet access too.'
See also: Thesaurus:utter
Derived terms
Terms derived from say (verb)
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)

  1. 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.
    • Olarn, Kocha; Regan, Helen (2019-02-08), “This princess could be the next prime minister of Thailand”, in CNN International Edition[2], 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.


say (not comparable)

  1. 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.



  1. (colloquial) Used to gain one's attention before making an inquiry or suggestion
    Say, what did you think about the movie?
  • (used to gain attention): hey


Etymology 2

From Middle French saie, from Latin saga, plural of sagum (military cloak).


say (countable and uncountable, plural says)

  1. A type of fine cloth similar to serge.

Etymology 3

Aphetic form of assay.


say (third-person singular simple present says, present participle saying, simple past and past participle sayed)

  1. To try; to assay.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ben Jonson to this entry?)


say (plural says)

  1. Trial by sample; assay; specimen.
    • Hooker
      If those principal works of God [] be but certain tastes and says, as if were, of that final benefit.
    • Shakespeare
      Thy tongue some say of breeding breathes.
  2. Tried quality; temper; proof.
    • Spenser
      He found a sword of better say.
  3. Essay; trial; attempt.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ben Jonson to this entry?)

Etymology 4


say (plural says)

  1. (Scotland) A strainer for milk.


Other Languages
Ænglisc: say
العربية: say
asturianu: say
azərbaycanca: say
brezhoneg: say
català: say
čeština: say
Cymraeg: say
dansk: say
Deutsch: say
eesti: say
Ελληνικά: say
español: say
euskara: say
فارسی: say
français: say
galego: say
한국어: say
հայերեն: say
hrvatski: say
Ido: say
Bahasa Indonesia: say
Interlingue: say
italiano: say
қазақша: say
kurdî: say
ລາວ: say
latviešu: say
lietuvių: say
Limburgs: say
magyar: say
Malagasy: say
മലയാളം: say
မြန်မာဘာသာ: say
Na Vosa Vakaviti: say
Nederlands: say
日本語: say
norsk: say
occitan: say
ភាសាខ្មែរ: say
polski: say
português: say
română: say
русский: say
Simple English: say
српски / srpski: say
suomi: say
svenska: say
தமிழ்: say
తెలుగు: say
ไทย: say
ᏣᎳᎩ: say
Türkçe: say
українська: say
اردو: say
Tiếng Việt: say
Wolof: say
中文: say