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From Middle English withseien, from Old English wiþsecgan (to speak against; to denounce, renounce, or deny), corresponding to with- +‎ say. Cognate with Old Saxon witharseggian (to object), Low German wedderseggen (to renounce), German widersagen (to renounce).


withsay (third-person singular simple present withsays, present participle withsaying, simple past and past participle withsaid)

  1. (transitive) To speak against someone or something, that is:
    1. (rare) To renounce, to give up
    2. To contradict or deny
      • c. 1225, Ancrene Riwle (Cleopatra C vi), 68
        Ȝef an mon...deð swa muche mis. þet hit beo se open sunne. þet he hit ne maȝe nanesweis allunge wið seggen.
      • c. 1445 in WP Baildon, Select cases in Chancery, A.D. 1364 to 1471 (1896), 136
        He withseieth not the matier conteigned in the seid bille of complainte.
      • 1530, J. Palsgrave, Lesclarcissement, 783/2
        Sythe I have sayd it, I wyll never withsay it.
    3. To gainsay, to oppose in speech (and by extension writing)
      • c. 1200, Trinity College Homilies, 139
        Bi þo daȝes luuede herodes...his broðer wif, and binam hire him, and Seint Iohan hit wið seide.
      • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses
        Let the lewd with faith and fervour worship. With will will we withstand, withsay.
    4. To forbid, to refuse to allow, give, or permit
      • c. 1450, Merlin (1899), XIV 204
        I will in no wise with-sey that ye requere.
      • c. 1530, St. German's Dyaloge Doctoure & Student, VI f xiii
        I wyll not withsaye thy desyre.
    5. To decline, to refuse to do or accept
      • c. 1225, Ancrene Riwle (Cleopatra C vi), 175
        Þeo...wið seggeð þe grant þer of wið an wille heorte.
      • 1402, T. Hoccleve, Letters of Cupid, 108
        She...So lyberal ys, she wol no wyght with-sey.
      • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, XIII
        ‘Sir,’ he seyde, ‘I myght nat withsey myne unclis wyll.’
      • c. 1670, ordinance in Collection of Ordinances of the Royal Household · 1327–1694 (1790), 372
        This is in noe wise to bee withsaid, for it is the King's honour.
      • 2000, James Farl Powers, Morte D'Urban
        He was mild to good men of God and stark beyond all bounds to those who withsaid his will.

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