Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

say - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     say pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlesaying
past tensesaid
past participlesaid
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to express something using words

    Nice to meet you,” he said with a smile.

    “When’s he coming back?” “He didn’t say.”

    say (that):

    She said that she liked dancing.

    say how/what/who etc.:

    Did he say who called?

    say something to someone:

    Tell me what he said to you.

    say hello/goodbye etc. (to someone):

    Say hello to Jenny for me!

    say sorry (to someone for something):

    I already said sorry for hurting his feelings.

    say yes/no (to someone/something) (=give/refuse permission):

    The committee said yes, so we can go ahead.

    a horrible/stupid/strange etc. thing to say:

    What a strange thing to say, Carrie thought.

    say something on/about:

    I want to say something about this subject.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to think something, or to have a particular opinion

    I think we should stop now. What do you say?

    say (that):

    He always said you’d be rich and famous one day.

    I say we go (=I think we should go) by car.

    would say so/not (=think it is likely/unlikely):

    “Will she meet the deadline?” “I would say so.”

    1. a.
      if people say something or if something is said, it is the opinion of a lot of people
      they/people say (that):

      They say laughter is the best medicine.

      as they say:

      Time, as they say, is a great healer.

      be said to do something:

      She is said to have great talent as an artist.

      The castle is said to be haunted.

      it is said (that):

      It is said that he was introduced to the king by a wealthy cousin.

  3. 3
    [transitive] [usually progressive] to mean something by a statement
    say (that):

    We are not saying that taxpayers should pay more.

    Is she saying she hasn’t got any homework?

    Synonyms and related words
    1. a.
      to have a particular meaning for someone
      say something to someone:

      This music says nothing to me.

      Synonyms and related words
  4. 4
    [transitive] to give information or orders in writing, numbers, pictures, etc.

    My watch says quarter of twelve.

    say (that):

    Her letter says she’s coming at noon.

    The rules say that we need a two-thirds majority to win.

    say how/when/what etc.:

    Does it say on the box how much it costs?

  5. 5
    [transitive] to show indirectly what someone or something is like
    say something about someone/something:

    Your home says a lot about you.

    This incident says something about the way the company is run.

  6. 6
    [transitive] [usually in imperative] to imagine what will happen in a particular situation

    Say you get $2,000 for the car – you’ll still need another thousand.

  7. 7
    [transitive] to use something as a possible example

    Why don’t we have a break until, let’s say, 10:45?

  8. 8
    [transitive] informal to tell someone to do something
    say to do something:

    Mom said to do the dishes.

  9. 9
    [transitive] to repeat the words of something such as a prayer or speech that you have learned previously

    They lit candles and said prayers for the dead.

  10. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    say what (now)? spoken an informal way of asking someone to repeat what they have just said, especially because it is strange or surprising

    "There's a £10 administration fee." "Say what now?"

    Submitted from United Kingdom on 28/12/2013
See also
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play