verb gain·say \ ˌgān-ˈsā \

Definition of gainsay

gainsaid play \ˌgān-ˈsād, -ˈsed\; gainsaying play \ˌgān-ˈsā-iŋ\; gainsays play \ˌgān-ˈsāz, -ˈsez\
1 : to declare to be untrue or invalid
2 : contradict, oppose
  • did not dare to gainsay the king



gainsay was our Word of the Day on 01/07/2018. Hear the podcast!

Examples of gainsay in a Sentence

  1. it can't be gainsaid that most people wish they had more time and money

  2. repeatedly tried to gainsay me, though every point I made was backed up by facts

Recent Examples of gainsay from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gainsay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

You might have trouble figuring out "gainsay" if you're thinking of our modern "gain" plus "say." It might help to know that the "gain-" part is actually related to "against." In Old English, gēan- meant "against." From that came the Middle English "gain-." "Gain-" was joined with "sayen" ("say") to form "gainsayen," the Middle English predecessor of "gainsay." So when you see "gainsay," think "say against" - that is, "deny" or "contradict." When you do happen to come across "gainsay," it's likely to be in literature. "Gainsay" is a literary, somewhat old-fashioned word that isn't heard much in everyday modern speech.

Origin and Etymology of gainsay

Middle English yein seyen, gein-seyen "to speak in opposition to, deny," from yein-, gein- "away, back, against, in opposition to" (going back to Old English gēan- "in opposition to," or marking returning or reciprocal action, going back to Germanic *gagna-) + seyen "to 1say" — more at again

Synonym Discussion of gainsay

deny, gainsay, contradict, contravene mean to refuse to accept as true or valid. deny implies a firm refusal to accept as true, to grant or concede, or to acknowledge the existence or claims of.
    • denied the charges
gainsay implies disputing the truth of what another has said.
    • no one can gainsay her claims
contradict implies an open or flat denial.
    • her account contradicts his
contravene implies not so much an intentional opposition as some inherent incompatibility.
    • laws that contravene tradition

GAINSAY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of gainsay for English Language Learners

  • : to deny or disagree with (something) : to show or say that (something) is not true

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