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Friday, December 4, 2015



What 'implied' can an assertion be? Especially after 2003!

'Hearsay', a substantive use of the phrase to "hear say" (vide "hear") is usually defined as that which one hears (or has heard) someone say.

Hearsay is information received by word of mouth, usually with the implication that it is not trustworthy.

It may be used to mean oral tidings.

Hearsay may be used to mean a report, tradition, rumour, common talk, gossip.

The first recorded quotation in English is

1533   G. Du Wes

"Introductorie for to lerne Frenche"

sig. Eeiv,

I knowe nothyng of it but by here say.

"I know nothing of it but by hearsay."

1556   N. Grimald tr. Cicerone Thre Bks. Duties i. f. 13v,

I haue nothing, but by hearesaye.
"I have nothing, but by hearsay."

1577   E. Hellowes tr. A. de Guevara Chron. 315

"Thou speakest by heare~saye, rather then by anye experience."
Thou speakest by hearsay rather than by any experience."

1577   W. Harrison Descr. Eng. (1877) ii. ix. i. 199

"So much as I have gathered by report and common heare-saie."
So much as I have gathered by report and common hearsay.

1590   R. Harvey Plaine Percevall sig. C2,

"Heresay is too slender an euidence to spit a mans credit vpon."
"Hearsay is too slender an evidence to spit a man's credit upon."

1600   P. Holland tr. Livy Rom. Hist. xxxix. vi. 1026

"Things..which by bare heeresay were reported to haue beene done."
Things which by bare hearsay were reported to have been done.

1631   W. Gouge Gods Three Arrowes v. vii. 417

The whole world was made to tremble at the heare-say of them.
The whole world was made to tremble at the hearsay of them.

1642   D. Rogers Naaman 117

The hearsay of Christ wrought all these things in them.

a1708   W. Beveridge Thes. Theologicus (1710) II. 298

Not meerly upon hearsay or tradition.

1761   Gilbert's Law Evidence 112

Hearsay is good evidence to prove, who is my grandfather, when he married, what children he had, etc. of which it is not reasonable to presume that I have better evidence.

1769   W. Draper in ‘Junius’ Stat Nominis Umbra (1772) I. xxvi. 189

Is it hearsay; or the evidence of letters, or ocular?

1847   G. P. R. James John Marston Hall ix,

 I gave him stronger proof than mere hearsay.

b. With a and pl.:

a report received; a rumour, a piece of gossip.

1642   W. Monson Naval Tracts (1704) iv. 428/1

This report seems to be a hearsay of a second person.

1699   R. Bentley Diss. Epist. Phalaris (new ed.) Introd. 7,

I am ashamed to see a person ... tell such little stories and hear says.

1730   G. Berkeley Let. 7 May in Wks. (1871) IV. 183

A hearsay, at second or third hand.

1841   T. Carlyle On Heroes i. 12

Wrappage of traditions, hearsays, mere words.

1847   H. W. Longfellow Evangeline ii. i. 33 

Sometimes a rumour, a hearsay, came.

In an attributive way, 'hearsay' is used to mean passing on one side into an adj., on the other giving rise to combinations:

(a) Of the nature of hearsay;

(b) founded or depending upon what one has heard said, but not within one's direct knowledge, as "hearsay account", "hearsay censure", "hearsay declaration", "hearsay knowledge", "hearsay report", "hearsay rumour", "hearsay tale".

(c) of hearsay, speaking from hearsay, as hearsay author,hearsay babbler, hearsay witness, †hearsay-man.

1586   Sir P. Sidney Arcadia (1593) i. sig. H3,

 Those whose metall stiff he knew he could not bende With hearsay, pictures or a window looke.

1602   R. Carew Surv. Cornwall i. f. 18v,

I can in these Tynne cases, plead but a hearsay experience.

1646   Sir T. Browne Pseudodoxia Epidemica iii. xxv. 171

A hearsay account by Bellonius.

1683   T. Tryon Way to Health 361

These Hearsaymen or Book philosophers, called, The Learned, are as ignorant as any of the true knowledge of God in themselves.

1738   T. Birch Life Milton App., in Milton Wks. I. 94

All the evidence was two hearsay depositions taken in 1642, from persons who were told so by the common soldiers of the Irish.

1787   M. Cutler Jrnl. 13 July in W. P. Cutler & J. P. Cutler Life, Jrnls. & Corr. M. Cutler (1888) I. 254

 We had both of us a hearsay knowledge of each other.

1814   T. Chalmers Evid. Christian Revel. i. 44

The report of hearsay witnesses.

1816   S. W. Singer Researches Hist. Playing Cards 149 

To promulgate hearsay reports.

1826   in Sheridaniana 315

The crude opinions of the hearsay babbler.

1859   Tennyson Vivien 800 in "Idylls of King".

She blamed herself for telling hearsay tales.


"hearsay evidence" is evidence consisting in what the witness has heard others say, or what is commonly said, as to facts of which he has himself no original or personal knowledge.

1753. W. Stewart in Scots Mag. Mar. 135/1

" Hearsay-evidence is rejected in law."

1768   W. Blackstone Comm. Laws Eng. iii. (1800) xxiii. 368

"Yet in some cases (as in proof of any general customs, or matters of common tradition or repute) the courts admit of hearsay evidence."

1848   J. J. S. Wharton, Law Lexicon at "hearsay evidence":

the exceptions to the general rule of the inadmissibility of hearsay evidence are (1) dying declarations; (2) hearsay in questions of pedigree; (3) hearsay on questions of public right, customs, boundaries, [etc.].

1878. W. E. H. Lecky Hist. Eng. 18th Cent. II. vi. 148

Hearsay evidence of the loosest kind was freely admitted.

hearsay  v. (nonce-wd.) (intr.)

to tell what one has heard; to repeat rumours.

1837   T. Carlyle French Revol. III. vi. vii. 391

Men riding and running, reporting and hearsaying.

hear-saying  n. (in 4 hyere zigginge) Obs.

hearsay, report = hearing say at hear v. 3

1340   Ayenbite (1866) 117 

He ne may noþing wel conne bote ase me kan þe batayle of troye be hyere-zigginge.

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