American English

Definition of say verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they say
    he / she / it says
    past simple said
    -ing form saying
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  1. 1[transitive, transitive] to speak or tell someone something, using words + speech “Hello!” she said. “That was marvelous,” said Daniel. In stories the subject often comes after said, says or say when it follows the actual words spoken, unless it is a pronoun. say something Be quiet, I have something to say. I didn't believe a word she said. That's a terrible thing to say. He knew that if he wasn't back by midnight, his parents would have something to say about it (= be angry). say something to somebody She said nothing to me about it. say to somebody/yourself + speech Isaid to myself (= thought), “That can't be right!” say (that)… He said (that) his name was Sam. it is said that… It is said that she lived to be over 100. say (what, how, etc…) She finds it hard to say what she feels. “That's impossible!” “So you say (= but I think you may be wrong).” “Why can't I go out now?” “Because I say so.” “What do you want it for?” “I'd rather not say.” say to do something He said to meet him here. somebody/something is said to be/have something He is said to have been a brilliant scholar.
  2. repeat words
  3. 2[transitive] say something to repeat words, phrases, etc. to say a prayer Try to say that line with more conviction.
  4. express opinion
  5. 3[transitive, intransitive] to express an opinion on something say something Say what you like (= although you disagree) about her, she's a fine singer. I'll say this for them, they're a very efficient company. Anna thinks I'm lazy—what do you say (= what is your opinion)? say (that)… I can't say I blame her for resigning (= I think she was right). I say (= suggest) we go without them. I wouldn't say they were rich (= in my opinion they are not rich). That's not to say it's a bad movie (= it is good but it is not without faults). say (what, how, etc…) It's hard to say what caused the accident. “When will it be finished?” “I couldn't say (= I don't know).”
  6. give example
  7. 4[transitive, no passive] to suggest or give something as an example or a possibility say something/somebody You could learn the basics in,let's say, three months. Let's take any writer, say (= for example) Dickens… say (that)… Say you lose your job: what would you do then?
  8. show thoughts/feelings
  9. 5[transitive] say something (to somebody) to make thoughts, feelings, etc. clear to someone by using words, looks, movements, etc. His angry glance said it all. That really says it all, doesn't it? (= it shows clearly what is true) Just what is the artist trying to say in her work?
  10. give written information
  11. 6[transitive, no passive] (of something that is written or can be seen) to give particular information or instructions + speech The sign said “Keep Out.” say something The clock said three o'clock. say (that)… The instructions say (that) we should leave it to set for four hours. say where, why, etc… The book doesn't say where he was born. say to do something The guidebook says to turn left.
  12. Which Word?say / tell Say never has a person as the object. You say something or say something to someone. Say is often used when you are giving somebody’s exact words:“Sit down,” she said. Anne said, “I’m tired.” Anne said (that) she was tired. What did he say to you?You cannot use “say about,” but say something about is correct:I want to say something/a few words/a little about my family. Say can also be used with a clause when the person you are talking to is not mentioned:She didn’t say what she intended to do. Tell usually has a person as the object and often has both a direct and an indirect object:Have you told him the news yet?It is often used with “that” clauses:Anne told me (that) she was tired. Tell is usually used when someone is giving facts or information, often with what, where, etc:Can you tell me when the movie starts? (BUT:Can you give me some information about the school?) Tell is also used when you are giving someone instructions:The doctor told me to stay in bed. The doctor told me (that) I had to stay in bed. ORThe doctor said (that) I had to stay in bed. NOTThe doctor said me to stay in bed.Idioms
    be easier said than done (saying)
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    to be much more difficult to do than to talk about “Why don't you get yourself a job?” “That's easier said than done.”
    cry/say uncle (informal)
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    to admit that you have been defeated in a fight and want to give up The older boys made Jimmy cry uncle.
    enough said
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    used to say that you understand a situation and there is no need to say any more “He's a politician, remember.” “Enough said.”
    go without saying
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    to be very obvious or easy to predict Of course I'll help you.That goes without saying.
    have something, nothing, etc. to say for yourself
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    to be ready, unwilling, etc. to talk or give your views on something She doesn't have much to say for herself (= doesn't take part in conversation). He had plenty to say for himself (= he had a lot of opinions and was willing to talk). Late again—what do you have to say for yourself (= what is your excuse)?
    having said that (informal)
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    used to introduce an opinion that makes what you have just said seem less strong My job is really stressful. Having said that, I enjoy the challenge.
    I dare say (formal or old-fashioned)
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    used when you are saying that something is likely I dare say you know about it already.
    if you don't mind me/my saying so…
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    used when you are going to criticize someone or say something that might upset them That color doesn't really suit you, if you don't mind my saying so.
    I'll say! (old-fashioned) (informal)
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    used for emphasis to say “yes” “Does she see him often?” “I'll say! Nearly every day.”
    I'm glad to say (that…) (informal)
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    used when you are commenting on a situation and saying that you are happy about it Most teachers, I'm glad to say, take their jobs very seriously. Thesaurusgladhappy pleased delighted proud relieved thrilledThese words all describe people feeling happy about something that has happened or is going to happen.glad [not usually before noun] happy about something or grateful for it:He was glad that she had won. She was glad when the meeting was over.happy pleased about something nice that you have to do or something that has happened to someone:We are happy to announce the winner of our talent contest.pleased [not before noun] (somewhat formal) happy about something that has happened or something that you have to do:She was pleased with her exam results. You're coming? I'm so pleased.glad, happy, or pleased?Feeling pleased can suggest that you have judged someone or something and approve of them. Feeling glad can be more about feeling grateful for something. You cannot be “glad with someone”:The boss should be glad with you.Happy can mean glad, pleased, or satisfied.delighted very pleased about something; very happy to do something; showing your delight:I'm delighted with the progress you've made. Delighted is often used to accept an invitation:“Can you stay for dinner?” “I'd be delighted (to).”proud pleased and satisfied about something that you own, have done, or are connected with:proud parents He was proud of himself for not giving up.relieved feeling happy because something unpleasant has stopped or has not happened; showing this:You'll be relieved to know that your jobs are safe.thrilled [not before noun] extremely pleased and excited about something:I was thrilled to be invited.delighted or thrilled?Thrilled may express a stronger feeling than delighted, but delighted can be made stronger with absolutely, more than, or only too. Thrilled can be made negative and ironic with not exactly or less than:She was not exactly thrilled at the prospect of babysitting her niece.Patterns glad/happy/pleased/delighted/relieved/thrilled about something pleased/delighted/relieved/thrilled at something glad/happy/pleased/delighted/thrilled for somebody glad/happy/pleased/delighted/proud/relieved/thrilled that…/to see/to hear/to find/to know… very glad/happy/pleased/proud/relieved absolutely delighted/thrilled
    I'm sorry to say
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    used for saying that something is disappointing He didn't accept the job, I'm sorry to say.
    I must say (informal)
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    used to emphasize an opinion Well, I must say, that's the funniest thing I've heard all week.
    it says a lot, very little, etc. for somebody/something (informal)
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    it shows a good/bad quality that someone or something has It says a lot for her that she never lost her temper. It didn't say much for their efficiency that the order arrived a week late.
    I wouldn't say no (to something) (informal)
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    used to say that you would like something or to accept something that is offered I wouldn't say no to a pizza. “Coffee, Brian?” “I wouldn't say no.”
    the less/least said the better
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    the best thing to do is say as little as possible about something
    used when making a suggestion or giving an example I can let you have it for, well let's say $100.
    mean to say
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    used to emphasize what you are saying or to ask someone if they really mean what they say I mean to say, you should have known how he would react! Do you mean to say you lost it?
    needless to say
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    used to emphasize that the information you are giving is obvious The problem, needless to say, is the cost involved.
    never say die (saying)
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    do not stop hoping
    no sooner said than done
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    used to say that something was, or will be, done immediately
    not have a good word to say about/for somebody/something (informal)
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    to never say anything good about someone or something Nobody had a good word to say about him.
      not say boo
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    1. 1to be very shy or gentle
    2. 2to not say anything at all Walter looked at us, but he didn't say boo.
    used to introduce a stronger way of describing something a difficult, not to say impossible, task
    put something on (the) record, be/go on (the) record (as saying…)
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    to say something publicly or officially so that it may be written down and repeated He didn't want to go on the record as either praising or criticizing the proposal. I'd like to put on record my sincere thanks to all those who supported me.
    used to ask someone to smile before you take their photograph
    say no (to something)
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    to refuse an offer, a suggestion, etc. If you don't invest in this, you're saying no to a potential fortune.
    say no more (informal)
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    used to say that you understand exactly what someone means or is trying to say, so it is unnecessary to say anything more “They went to New York together.” “Say no more!”
    say your piece
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    to say exactly what you feel or think
    say what? (informal)
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    used to express surprise at what someone has just said “He's getting married.” “Say what?”
    used to ask someone to tell you when you should stop pouring a drink or serving food for them because they have enough
    suffice (it) to say (that)…
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    used to suggest that although you could say more, what you do say will be enough to explain what you mean I won't go into all the details. Suffice it to say that the whole event was a complete disaster.
    that is to say
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    in other words three days from now, that is to say on Friday
    used to introduce an opinion that makes what you have just said seem less strong
    that's not saying much
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    used to say that something is not very unusual or special She's a better player than me, but that's not saying much (= because I am a very bad player).
    there's no saying
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    used to say that it is impossible to predict what might happen There's no saying how he'll react.
    there's something, not much, etc. to be said for something/doing something
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    there are/are not good reasons for doing something, believing something, or agreeing with something
    to say the least
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    without exaggerating at all I was surprised, to say the least.
    to say nothing of something
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    used to introduce a further fact or thing in addition to those already mentioned synonym not to mention It was too expensive, to say nothing of the time it wasted.
    well said! (informal)
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    I agree completely “We must stand up for ourselves.” “Well said, John.”
    what do/would you say (to something/doing something) (informal)
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    would you like something/to do something? What do you say to eating out tonight? Let's go away for a weekend. What do you say?
    whatever you say (informal)
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    used to agree to someone's suggestion because you do not want to argue
    what/whatever somebody says, goes (informal) (often humorous)
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    a particular person must be obeyed Sarah wanted the kitchen painted green, and what she says, goes.
    when all is said and done
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    when everything is considered I know you're upset, but when all's said and done it isn't exactly a disaster.
    who can say (…)?
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    used to say that nobody knows the answer to a question Who can say what will happen next year?
    who says (…)? (informal)
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    used to disagree with a statement or an opinion Who says I can't do it?
    who's to say (…)?
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    used to say that something might happen or might have happened in a particular way, because nobody really knows Who's to say we would not have succeeded if we'd had more time?
    you can say that again (informal)
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    I agree with you completely “He's in a bad mood today.” “You can say that again!”
    you don't say! (informal) (often ironic)
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    used to express surprise “They left without us.” “You don't say!” (= I'm not surprised)
    you said it! (informal)
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    used to agree with someone's suggestion “Let's go to the movies tonight.” “You said it!”
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: say