From Middle English gainsayen, ȝeinseggen (“to say against, say in opposition to”), equivalent to gain- + say. Compare Old Danish gensige (“to speak against; gainsay”), Swedish gensaga (“a speaking against; protest”).
- Rhymes: -eɪ
- To contradict; to withsay; to deny, refute; to controvert; to dispute; to forbid.
1840, Abel Upshur, A Brief Enquiry into the Nature and Character of our Federal Government, Campbell, page 84:
- The supreme court, therefore, may assume jurisdiction over subjects and between parties, not allowed by the constitution, and there is no power in the federal government to gainsay it.
1902, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles:
- Know then that in the time of the Great Rebellion (the history of which by the learned Lord Clarendon I most earnestly commend to your attention) this Manor of Baskerville was held by Hugo of that name, nor can it be gainsaid that he was a most wild, profane, and godless man.
2012 July 7, “Griffith acted, and lived, by Golden Rule”, in The Post and Courier, Charleston: Evening Post Publishing, page 5, Features:
- 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.
to deny; to contradict