The word gainsay can be quite confusing, for its appearance gives no clue to its meaning. The dictionary definition for gainsay are as follows:
1. to declare to be untrue or invalid
2. contradict, oppose
Masters Tip to remember Gainsay:
In terms of learning the word for contexts, one of the best ones for ‘gainsay’ could be that of ‘lawyers’. For example: ‘The defense lawyer was continuously trying to gainsay the evidence‘. The job of lawyers is to deny, contradict and oppose, all of these can be combined and we can say: Job of a lawyer is to gainsay.
In terms of usage, the word can be used in the following ways:
1. In vain did the poor old father weep and implore her pity; she was firm, and he dared not gainsay her. -The Yellow Fairy Book by Lang, Andrew
2. No one ventured to gainsay the missionary, whose excited tone contrasted curiously with his naturally calm visage. – Around The World In Eighty Days by Verne, Jules
3. He thought that since the maid was defenseless he could carry her away to one of his castles and none could gainsay him. – Robin Hood by McSpadden, J. Walker
The word gainsay comes from Middle English ‘gainsaien’, which means to say against. This is further derived from: ‘gain’ meaning ‘against, back’ and ‘saien’ meaning ‘to say’.
There are some other words based on these roots, but these words are no longer in conventional usage and are more or less obsolete.
Gainstrive: To strive or struggle against; to withstand.
Gainstand: To withstand; to resist.