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 Isay 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
    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'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 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
    never say die(saying)
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    do not stop hoping
      not say boo
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    1. 1to be very shy or gentle
    2. 2 to 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 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
    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)()
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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