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Community Comment

A Word A Day — gainsay

September 06, 2012

Word of the Day

  • gainsay
  • audio pronunciation
  • \gayn-SAY\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to declare to be untrue or invalid
2
: contradict, oppose
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

There is no doubt that their work makes a useful contribution, but it does not provide enough evidence to gainsay the conclusions of earlier scholars.

“And there was something childlike about Griffith, too, even in his Matlock days, as a deceptively sharp 'simple country lawyer,' a big-kid boyishness that did not mask his intelligence or gainsay his authority.” — From an obituary for Andy Griffith in the Post & Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), July 7, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

You might have trouble figuring out “gainsay” if you're thinking of our modern “gain” plus “say.” It should help to know that the “gain-” part is actually related to “against”—specifically the Old English word for “against”: “gēan-.” From that came Middle English “gain-,” which 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.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.


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