1 /seI/ verb past tense and past participle said /sed/ 3rd person singular says USE WORDS
1 WORD/SOUND (T) to pronounce a word or sound: “What did you say?” | “I'm so tired” she said. | say hello/goodbye etc: She left without even saying goodbye.
—see speak
2 THOUGHT/OPINION (intransitive only in questions and negatives, transitive) to express a thought, opinion, explanation etc in words: Don't believe anything he says. | “Why did she leave?” “I don't know - she didn't say.” | thing to say: What a ridiculous thing to say! | say (that): Adam says he's thirsty. | I always said that you'd do okay in the end, didn't I? | say how/why/who etc: Did she say what happened? | The doctor couldn't say how long it would take. | say yes/no (to) (=agree or refuse): Can I go, Mum? Oh please say yes! | say so/not: “Do you think they're happy?” “I wouldn't say so.” | sth to say: Does anyone else have anything to say? | I couldn't think of anything to say to him. | say (you're) sorry: Look, I've said I'm sorry - what more do you want? | say a few words (=make a short speech): I'd just like to say a few words about the schedule. | say your piece (=say what you want to say): OK, you've said your piece - now shut up.
3 say to yourself to think something: So I said to myself “It's time I left.”
4 TELL SB TO DO STH (transitive not in progressive) to tell someone to do something: say to do sth: Nina said to meet her at 4.30.
5 RULES (T) to state what people are allowed to do: say (that): The law says you can't sell alcohol on a Sunday afternoon. | Mom says we're not allowed to talk to strangers.
6 say your prayers/say grace etc (T) to speak the fixed set of words that form a prayer etc: Have you said your prayers?
7 say sth to sb's face informal to make an unpleasant or criticizing remark to the person that the remark is about: If you're going to make comments about my work, at least have the courage to say them to my face!
8 say sth you shouldn't informal to say something that is embarrassing or secret: Oh dear, have I said something I shouldn't again?
—see also: say a mouthful mouthful (4) WRITING/NUMBERS
9 (transitive not in passive) to give information in written words, numbers, or pictures: The clock in the hall said it was 7.30. | What does this word say? | Well that's what Sue said in her letter. | say (that): It said in the paper that there were no survivors. | say to do sth: The label says to take one before meals. | say who/what/how etc: Does it say in the instructions how much you should use?
10 NOT DIRECTLY (T) to suggest what you mean in an indirect way: What do you think the writer is saying in this passage? | So what you're saying is, there's none left. | say (that): Are you saying I'm fat?
11 SHOW CHARACTER/QUALITIES (T) to show what someone or something's real character or qualities are: say a lot about (=show something very clearly): The fact that he returned the money says a lot about his character. | say a lot for (=show that someone or something has a lot of good qualities): It says a lot for Jayne that she had the sense not to tell them. | not say much for (=show that something is not of a high standard or quality): These results don't say much for the quality of the teaching.
12 HAVE MEANING (T) to have or show a meaning that someone can understand: Most modern art doesn't say much to me.
13 (T) to express an opinion that a lot of people have: Well, you know what they say - blood's thicker than water. | they say (that) (=people think that): They say he's been all round the world. | (be) said to do sth: She's said to be the richest woman in the world. | it is said (that): It is said that he was a spy during the war.
14 (transitive usually in imperative) to suggest or suppose that something might happen or might be true: I say we should forget the whole thing. | let's/just say (that): Let's say your plan fails, then what? | Just say you won the lottery - what would you do?
15 I must say used when you want to emphasize what you are saying: Well, that's clever, I must say! | I must say it made me jump.
16 I can't say (that) used to say that you definitely do not think or feel something: I can't say I envy her being married to him!
17 having said that used before saying something that makes the opinion you have just given seem less strong: Hannah didn't do a very good job, but having said that, I don't think I could have done any better.
18 say no more used to show that you understand what someone means, although it has not been said directly: “I saw him leaving her flat at 6.30 this morning.” “Say no more!”
19 enough said used to say that something is clear, and does not need to be explained any further
20 I'd rather not say used when you do not want to tell someone something: “So what are your plans now?” “I'd rather not say at the moment.”
21 you can say that again! used to say that you completely agree with someone: “Gosh, it's hot today.” “You can say that again!”
22 say when used to ask someone to tell you when to stop doing something, especially pouring them a drink
23 who says? used to say that you do not agree with a statement, opinion etc: Who says I have to retire at 60?
24 who can say? used to say that nobody knows the answer to a question: Who can say whether they'll ever find a cure?
25 who's to say? used to say that your judgment of a situation might not be correct, because you can never be sure what will happen in the future: But who's to say that she won't do better than him in the end?
26 what do you say? used to ask someone if they agree with a suggestion: We could go into partnership; what do you say? | what do you say we do sth?: What do you say we all go to a movie? | what do/would you say to (doing) sth?: What would you say to a meal out?
27 you don't say! used to show that you are not at all surprised by what someone has just told you
28 say the word used to tell someone they have only to ask and you will do what they want: Just say the word and I'll get rid of her.
29 I'll say this for him/her etc used when you want to mention something good about someone, especially when you have been criticizing them: I will say this for Tom - at least he's consistent.
30 say what you like especially BrE used when giving an opinion that you are sure is correct, even if the person you are talking to might disagree with you: Say what you like, she's a very good mother.
31 whatever you say used to tell someone that you agree to do what they want, accept their opinion etc, especially because you do not want an argument
32 can't say fairer than that BrE used to say that you have given the best offer that you can: I'll give you -25 for it; I can't say fairer than that.
33 you said it!
a) used when someone says something that you agree with, although you would not have actually said it yourself: “I was always stubborn as a kid.” “You said it!”
b) AmE used to say that you agree with someone: “Let's go home.” “You said it! I'm tired.”
34 what have you got to say for yourself? used to ask someone for an explanation when they have done something wrong: Late again? What have you got to say for yourself?
35 that's not saying much used to emphasize that something is not very strange or unusual: She's taller than me, but I'm only 5 foot 2, so that isn't saying much.
36 when all's said and done used to remind someone about an important point that they should remember: When all is said and done, he's only nine years old - don't expect too much.
37 I wouldn't say no (to) used to say that you would like something, and would accept it you were offered it: I wouldn't say no to a cup of coffee.
38 I say old-fashioned
a) BrE used to get someone's attention: I say, could you pass me that book?
b) used to show you are slightly interested, angry etc: “My husband's ill today.” “I say! I'm sorry to hear that.”
39 go without saying used to say that something is so clear that it does not really need to be stated: It goes without saying that I'll return the money afterwards.
40 to say the least used to say that you could have described something, criticized someone etc a lot more severely than you have: Jane could have been more considerate, to say the least.
41 that is to say used before describing what you mean in more detail: Let's do as he suggested, that is to say, you fly down and I'll bring the car.
42 that's not to say used to make it clear that something is not true, when you think someone might think that it is: That's not to say that I agree with what you're doing, of course.
43 not to say especially BrE used to show that you could have used a stronger word to describe something: It would be silly, not to say mad, to sell your car.
44 say -45/100 years/Tuesday etc used to suggest a possible example, amount etc when discussing something: They must owe say $2,000 in rent. | Can you come to dinner? Say, 7.30?
45 there's no saying how/what/when etc used to say that it is impossible to know something: There's no saying what he'll do next.
46 nothing/something/not much etc to be said for used to say that there are a lot of, not many etc good reasons for doing something: There's a lot to be said for taking a few days off now and then. | It was a strange plan, with very little to be said for it.
47 to say nothing of used to say that you have described only some of the bad points about something: It was a complete waste of time, to say nothing of all the stress and bother!
48 have something to say about to be angry about something: If you don't do your homework your father will have something to say about it!
49 have a lot to say for yourself someone who has a lot to say for themselves talks all the time
50 what sb says goes used to emphasize who is in control in a situation: My wife wants to go to Italy this year, and what she says goes!
—see also: wouldn't say boo to a goose boo 2 (3), easier said than done easy 2 (6), no sooner said than done soon (4) USAGE NOTE: SAY WORD CHOICE: say, tell, repeat, give, tell sb about/of, talk about/of, speak about/of In general, you say words to someone, but what you tell someone is facts, information etc: I said hello/sorry/thanks/a few words to her (NOT told her `Hello ') | I told her the reason/the truth/a lie/a story/a joke (NOT said). You usually only use say with the actual words that are spoken: He said, “Open the door”. Only tell can be used to report commands: He told me to open the door. There are special verbs for say ing certain things: I asked “Where is it?” (less often I said ...) | I'd like to welcome you (NOT usually say welcome).). | He congratulated her (=said `Congratulations!'). | She explained why she had done it (=said why she had done it). If you say something again, you repeat it. With some kinds of information give is more usual than tell: He gave (us) his opinion/some advice/the details/a lot of information/an order/a message. You usually tell someone about, talk about or speak about (formal) people, things etc that are not themselves information: He told us about Harvey/the accident (NOT said the accident to us).). | I'm here to talk about the school/the school fair on Friday (NOT tell you the fair). Of can be used instead of about with these verbs, but this can sound old-fashioned or literary: a story that tells of a frog (you would usually just say a story about a frog) GRAMMAR Say cannot have a person as its object. The person you are speaking to can be mentioned as well, but only after to:: She said goodbye to her parents. (NOT She said her parents goodbye.) I said to them `What do you need?' | Celia once said to me that her husband tended to be violent. However, where the object is a that clause, and you want to mention the person you are talking to as well, people often use tell, which can have a person as object: You used to tell me that he was a nice person. With a wh- clause in indirect speech tell is far more common: Tell me what you need (NOT: Say to me what you need). Where the object is a clause and you do not want to mention the person you are talking to it is usual to use say: Call us to say when you'll arrive (NOT to tell when). In spoken English that is often left out of the that clause: Tell me it's not true! | I said I was sorry. Tell (but not say) can be followed by to forms of verbs: He told us to do it (NOT said to us to do it). However, there must be an object noun as well (NOT He told to do it). Tell (unlike say) is not usually followed immediately by to and a noun: I'll tell my parents the truth/tell the truth to my parents (NOT ...tell to my parents the truth). Say and tell can both be used with about, but usually you use it with an object as well: Let me say something about my family. | Sally was telling us all about the party. In informal spoken English you will quite often hear things like: I've already said about that! | You were saying about Harvey? but some people would consider these to be incorrect. More often people use other verbs here: I've already talked about my family. 2 noun (singular, uncountable)
1 the right to take part in deciding something
(+ in): The workers had no say in how the factory was run. | Don't I have any say in the matter?
2 have/say your say informal to have the opportunity to give your opinion about something: Mark always has to have his say, even if he knows nothing about the subject.
3 interjection AmE informal used to express surprise, or to introduce an idea you have just had: Say, haven't I seen you before somewhere?

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.


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