Did you know?

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

say

 - definition
 
 
 
Close

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.

Close

Thesaurus

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary entries. Click on the T button in an entry to review the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

more
verb British English pronunciation: say /seɪ/ 
Word Forms
Close
present tense
I/you/we/theysay
he/she/itsays
present participlesaying
past tensesaid
past participlesaid
 
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to express something using words

    'Pleased 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've 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 an odd thing to say, Carrie thought.

    say something on/about:

    I want to say something on 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: it's quicker than the train.

    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?

    1. a.
      to have a particular meaning for someone
      say something to someone:

      This music says nothing to me.

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

    My watch says quarter to twelve.

    say (that):

    Her letter says she's arriving at midday.

    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:

    Mum said to do the dishes.

phrases

 

property porn

a type of television programme, magazine article, etc which shows off desirable homes …

BuzzWord Article

Word of the Day

chimera

a plan or course of action that is not possible to achieve

Open Dictionary

flat design

a type of design used on the web which excludes features which give a three-dimensional effect … and uses simple styles

add a word

Blog

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