Middle English Dictionary Entry

seien v.(1)
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. iseien v.
With direct quotation: (a) to say (certain specified words), utter; (b) to say (certain specified words to sb., to oneself, among a group, etc.); ~ aye, say (certain specified words) in reply (to sb.); (c) ~ thus, ~ (in) this wise, ~ in (on) this manere, etc., to say as follows (certain specified words); -- also with indirect obj.; also, ~ thus (so), say (certain words) as just indicated; (d) ~ hit (this, that), ~ saue (saues, sentence), ~ word(es, to say it (this, words, etc.), referring to certain specified words; (e) ~ and singen, answeren (carpen, melen, singen, speken) and ~, answeren and ~ ayen, to answer (speak, sing, etc.) (certain specified words) [see also answeren v.1.(a)].
In phrases: ~ alas (alas, to lament, express grief [see also alas interj.2.(a)]; ~ chek (mat), exercise power, bring about defeat [see also chek interj. & n.1.(b) & mat interj. & n.(b)]; ~ chek-mat, exercise authority [see also chek-mat adj. & n.2.(a)]; ~ chek-mat to, curb (sb.), put a stop to (sth.); ~ cravant, give in, yield; ~ departinge from jesu, declare separation from Jesus, reject Jesus; -- mistransl. of L dicere anathema iesu; ~ fi of (on), condemn (tales of incest); ~ helthe to, greet (sb.); ~ ho, cease, decide to stop, put a stop to an action [see also ho interj. 1.(b)]; ~ inough inough, be satisfied; as who seieth trei-as, suddenly, before a word could be uttered.
(a) To say (sth., sth. to sb.), state, declare; not to ~, not to be said; (b) to say (that sth. is so), state; also fig.; (c) to say (sth. is so, what one wishes), state; declare (sb. to be of a certain opinion); ~ as to berken, say (sth.) seems to bark; ~ on, go on and say (what one wishes), say unhesitatingly; (d) to say so; thei seien, so they say; (e) heren seid, to hear (sth., that sth. will happen); hear (sb.) say (sth., that sth. is so); (f) to state (sth.) in song or verse; ~ and singen, say in verse (sth., that sth. is so); (g) ~ afore, state a prognosis in advance; ~ biforen, to prophesy; prophesy (sth.), foretell; also, preach (sth.).
In selected phrases: (a) ~ and holden (leren, presenten, sweren, tellen), affermen (answeren, arguen, sweren, wenen) and ~, to maintain (teach, charge, swear, state, affirm, answer, etc.) (that sth. is so); ~ and counseilen, say (what one wishes); nombren and ~, categorize and say (that sth. is so); tellen and ~, report (sth.); (b) ~ saue(s, to make a speech; say something, say anything; give an opinion; ~ speche, give a report; ~ tale, make a statement; ~ word, say something; use a word, utter a word; ~ wordes, say something; (c) ~ avis (devis), to give an opinion; ~ bodeword (erende, message), deliver a message; ~ counseil; ~ dom; ~ entente, say what one intends; also, give an opinion; ~ iwille, say what one wishes; ~ lofword of, praise (sb.); ~ ouen talent, declare (one's) own wish, vote for oneself; ~ sentence, utter a platitude; ~ sermoun, preach; ~ (on) wille, say what one wishes; also, impose a penance [quot.: Cursor (Frf)]; ~ witnesse (witnessinge), bear witness; (d) ~ nai, to refuse, resist, object, contradict, deny; answer in the negative; refuse (sb., to do sth.); deny (that sth. is so); disobey (a command); also, disregard (physic); also, restrain oneself [quot.: a1500(a1460)]; ~ nai of, refuse (sth.), refuse (sb. sth.); ~ nai to, refuse (sb.), deny (sth.); ~ nai unto, disobey (a command); ~ nai with, refuse (sth.); ~ nich ne nai to, deny (sth.); ~ no, refuse; ~ ye or nai, acquiesce or object; (e) ~ the same, to agree; also, repeat something; also, say the same thing; ~ (the) contrary, contradict something; (f) ~ no (never a) word, ~ no-more (no-thing, nought); (g) ~ cause, to bring a charge, make out a case; seid causes, accusations brought.
With as, thus, so, etc.: (a) ~ so (thus), to say so (thus); say as follows (that sth. is so); ~ in this manere, say as follows (that sth. is so); (b) ~ (lik) as, to say as (one sees, hears, knows, wishes); (c) with as, so-sum, etc. in adv. clause of manner; (d) with as, so, so-sum, etc. in parenthetic or analogous clause; also in relative clause [quot.: PPl.C]; (e) as who seith (seie), as if to say (sth., that sth. is so), that is to say; also, one might say (sth.).
(a) To express (a common belief), repeat (gossip); opine (that sth. is so); ben seid, be a common belief (that sth. is so); heren seid, hear (a common belief) said; man (mani man, on) seieth, mani (commune peple, men, some, some men, thei, etc.) seien; (b) as a formula introducing a proverb or an old saw: man (me) seieth, men (the wise) seien, hit) is seid, I have herd ~ (seid).
In emphatic statements: (a) to assert, affirm; assert (sth., that sth. is so, etc.); (b) to assure (sb.); assure (sb. that sth. is so), assert (sth. to sb.) strongly; (c) in the negative, freq. with litotes; (d) to repeat (a word, phrase) for emphasis; (e) durren ~, to assert confidently (sth., that sth. is so) [see also durren v.1b.(a)].
(a) To recite a prayer, say mass; say (a prayer, part of a prayer), say (mass, a service, etc.); recite (the office, part of the office, a psalm); ~ nother (or) singen, say nor (or) sing (mass); ~ oute messe, finish saying mass; don seid messe, have a mass said; singen and ~, sing (a prayer); (b) to recite Latin responses; recite the formula for a sacrament; read aloud (a passage from Scripture); recite (the formula for a sacrament); (c) to sing a hymn; sing (a hymn, sacred song), chant; (d) to ask (a question), ask for (sth.); (e) to repeat (a proverb, saying); recite (a charm, an oath); ~ thus.
(a) To speak, discourse, make a speech, say something; also, murmur, grumble [quot.: c1425, ?mistaking L dissecabantur for disserebant]; law plead; ~ o, speak of (sb.); ~ of, speak of (sb.); also, speak about (sth.), discuss; ~ of bokes, quote from books; ~ on other, speak differently, dissimulate; haven seid, have finished speaking; speken other ~, speak; (b) with abstract noun as obj.: ~ despit (folie, god, honour, harm, hosp, ivel, resoun, right, shame, tole, unthank, vileini, wisdom, worshipe), to speak insultingly (wickedly, well, honorably or creditably, offensively, blasphemously, etc.), say something insulting (wicked, good, etc.); ~ bismeres (scornes), speak scornfully; ~ blame on, attribute evil to (sb.); ~ cursing, curse (a time); ~ felonies (sclaundres), make slanderous statements; ~ felonie to, accuse (sb.) falsely; ~ harm of, speak ill of (sb.); ~ nother ille ne god, say nothing; ~ wrong, make an accusation; accuse (sb.); ?also, threaten (sb.); ben dol to ~, be sad to say; shame to ~, shame to say; (c) with certain adverbs: ~ amis, to speak ill, say something slanderous; also, misspeak, say something offensive; ~ best, argue most rightly; ~ bet, speak more sincerely; ~ faire, speak pleasantly (to sb.); ~ fokel, speak treacherously (of sb.); ~ ille, say something offensive; ~ mis, say something offensive, something evil; offend (sb.) in speech; ~ wel, say something of value, something true; also, say something to someone's credit; also, speak well (of sb.); ~ wrong (no right), speak mistakenly, say something erroneous; (d) ~ forth (on), to speak without hesitation, go on and speak; (e) to accuse (sb. of sth.); ~ oute, inform on (sb.), tell on; ~ unto, reproach (sb.); ~ upon, bring (an accusation) against (sb.); (f) to speak (a language); also, say (sth. in Latin).
(a) Impv. Respond, answer; reply to (sb.), answer; reply (sth., sth. to sb.), answer (sb. sth.); (b) ~ to, to reply to (an argument).
(a) To call (sth. a name), call (sb. sth.), designate (sth.) as (sth.); define (sth. as sth.), categorize (sth. as sth.); seid of, called (sth.); (b) to call (sb., oneself, a people, sth. happy, fruitful, etc.); describe (sb. or sth. as sth.); call oneself (fortunate); also, use (a certain adjective) [quot.: c1460]; (c) to allege (sth. to be sth., that sb. does sth.); (d) to decide (sth., that sth. is so), judge, determine.
(a) To tell (sb. sth.), tell (sth. to sb.), make known, reveal; -- also without objects [quot.: HRood 26/32]; also, tell (sth. to sth.) [quot.: a1275(?c1150), 205]; ~ oute, make clear (sth. to sb.); (b) to tell (sb. that sth. is so, that sth. occurred, etc.); inform; ~ to, tell to (sb. that sth. is so); -- also without that; (c) to tell (sb. what is the case, how sth. occurred, if sth. is so, etc.); -- also with grammatical subject hit [quot.: a1382]; ~ as, inform (sb.) as (instructed); ~ til; (d) with obj. or obj. clause not expressed: to inform (sb.); tell (sb. how, why, in what way); (e) ~ bi (of), to tell (sb.) about (sb. or sth.); ~ so (thus), tell (sb.) so, inform (sb.) to this effect; (f) ~ answer (avis, dom, entente, lore, rath, red, saue, sermoun, tidinge, wille, wit), to tell (sb.) one's answer (opinion, judgment, etc.).
In phrases: (a) ~ (the) soth (treuth), to tell the truth, tell (sb.) the truth; ~ sothes, tell (sb.) truths or painful truths; heren ~ a soth, hear a true word spoken; (b) in parenthetical expressions, for emphasis or as a metrical filler: the) soth to ~, to ~ soth (treuth), forsoth to ~ [see also forsoth adv.1.], if I seie soth (treuth), etc.; (c) ~ fals (mis), to tell a lie; ~ lesinge, tell a lie, tell (sb.) a lie; ~ soth or mis.
(a) To give an account, give a description; ~ of, tell about (sth.), give an account of; also, deal with (sth.); (b) to give an account of (sth.), describe; -- also without obj.; also, deal with (sth.) [quot.: c1449]; (c) to make mention; refer to (sb. or sth.), speak about, mention; ~ of, mention (sth.); ~ in manere of careine, speak of (sb.) as if of carrion; (d) ppl. seid as adj.: referred to, mentioned; -- also pl.; also, described [quot.: Amadace]; biforeseid, mentioned earlier; (e) to list (a series of people or things), enumerate; -- also without obj. [last quot.]; also, specify (sb.), indicate, point out; (f) i)heren ~ of, to hear (sb. or sth.) mentioned, hear about (sb. or sth.); heren seid of, hear about (sb.).
(a) To narrate a historical episode, tell a story or romance; narrate (sth., a tale, parable, etc.); ben to ~, be narrated or told; (b) to make a report, tell; report (sth., that sth. occurred, what happened), tell; ~ tale, give account; ~ tales, tell the news; (c) to reveal (sth., that sth. is so); reveal the identity of (sb.); proclaim (sth.), publish; -- also without obj.; also, prophesy (sth.); ~ pes, proclaim peace; ~ prophesie; ben to ~, be revealed or proclaimed; (d) to confess (sins, misdeeds), confess (sins to sb.); also, confess (oneself); (e) i)heren ~, to hear (sth.) reported, hear tell (sth., that sth. is so); -- also without obj. in as clause; heren ~ of, hear tell of (sb.).
(a) To mean (sth.), be understood as (sth.); ben ~, ben at (to) ~, mean (sth.), signify, imply; also, be interpreted as (sth.); also, be translated as (sth.); ben as muche to ~ as, ben thus muchel to ~, ben no-more to ~ than, ben not elles to ~ but; (b) that (this) is to ~, in other words, that is, namely; to be specific; (c) ben seid, to be signified by (sb.); ben seid bi, mean (sb.), refer to; (d) of a word: ben seid, to be used (in different senses); ben seid ab, be derived from (sth.); ben seid of, be derived from (sth.), come from; also, be used with respect to (bodies) [quot.: Chaucer].
(a) To teach; teach (sth., that sth. is so), state authoritatively; state authoritatively (certain specified words); ~ thus (so); as (so so)..seieth, as seieth.., etc.; (b) to explain (sth., sth. to sb.), interpret, explicate; -- also without obj.; (c) i)heren ~, to hear stated authoritatively (that sth. is so); -- also without obj. in as clause; i)heren seid, hear (sth., certain words) stated authoritatively; -- also without obj.
(a) To give directions (to sb. to do sth., that sth. be done), command; (b) to give a command; give (a command) to (sb.), enjoin (sb.); ~ so; ~ to (unto), give (a certain command) to (sb.); as (than) I seie, so he seid, etc.; (c) to command (a certain action), order (sth. to be done); issue a command (to do sth., that sth. be done), give direction; -- also without obj. in as clause; (d) to propose (sth.), advise, urge; -- also without obj. in as clause; also, prescribe (a medicine).
Of a written or an oral source: to contain certain words, convey certain information; contain (certain quoted words); convey (certain information), convey information (that sth. is so, how sth. is so); inform (sb.); tell (sb. sth., that sth. is so); ~ thus (so); as seieth the bok (writinge), so so iwrite seieth, etc.: (a) of the Bible, a book of the Bible, a text from the Bible; (b) of a book, a passage from a book; (c) of a law, letter, an inscription; (d) of a history, romance, song, fable, etc.
(a) Of God, Wisdom, a voice: to utter (certain specified words); (b) of a saying, proverb: to run as follows; of purport, meaning: be as follows; (c) of an infant, a bird: to utter (an expressive sound); (d) of a personified abstraction: to tell (sb. that sth. is so); express (sth.); (e) to convey (certain information, a certain meaning) nonverbally; (f) impers. hit) seieth, there is certain information, etc. contained (in a written source); there is contained (certain information, etc. in a written source).
To write; write (certain quoted words); express (sth.) in writing; as seid, as written; as i seid, as guido seieth, etc.
In proverbs and prov. sayings.
In misc. phrases: (a) to ~, to be sure, indeed; -- used for rime and metrical filler; (b) with dialect vars. as doublets: seien and seggen, to affirm forcefully (that sth. would be done); seggen and seien saue, say completely (one's) say; seggen and seien ayen, oppose (sb.) vigorously in speech.
In names of allegorical characters; also, in names attributed to Pope Benedict XI.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1150(OE) Vsp.D.Hom.(Vsp D.14)128/29 : Him mæig his agen andgitt siggen fullice beo þysen; & eow læwedan mannen is þiss genoh, þeh ge þa deope digelnysse þær on ne cunnen.
  • a1500(1439) Lydg.Sts.AA (Lnsd 699)124 : At his [St. Alban] arryvail, bi verray force & myht, Bi the prowesse of Cassibalan. Touchyng the titil, wer it wrong or riht, Off seid Cesar, deme euery maner wiht.
  • Note: AQ
  • (c1454) Pecock Fol.(Roy 17.D.9)28/32 : Þe seid inward sensitive comoun witt may kepe þe seid lijknessis…fro doom and knowyng of seyng witt.
  • Note: ppl. as adj.
    Note: acc. to MM - like a 'power' of the soul.