Etymology: subst. use of phrase to hear say : see hear v.
a. That which one hears or has heard some one
say; information received by word of mouth, usually with implication that it is
not trustworthy; oral tidings; report, tradition, rumour, common talk,
gossip.?1533 G. Du Wes Introductorie for to lerne Frenche sig. Eeiv, I knowe
nothyng of it but by here say.
1556 N. Grimald tr. Cicero Thre Bks. Duties
i. f. 13v, I haue nothing, but by hearesaye.
1577 E. Hellowes tr. A. de
Guevara Chron. 315 Thou speakest by heare~saye, rather then by anye
1577 W. Harrison Descr. Eng. (1877) ii. ix. i. 199 So much as
I have gathered by report and common heare-saie.
1590 R. Harvey Plaine
Percevall sig. C2, Heresay is too slender an euidence to spit a mans credit
1600 P. Holland tr. Livy Rom. Hist. xxxix. vi. 1026 Things..which
by bare heeresay were reported to haue beene done.
1631 W. Gouge Gods Three
Arrowes v. vii. 417 The whole world was made to tremble at the heare-say of
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
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
b. With a and pl. A report
received; a rumour, a piece of gossip.a1642 W. Monson Naval Tracts (1704) iv.
428/1 This Report seems to be a Hearsay of a second Person.
Bentley Diss. Epist. Phalaris (new ed.) Introd. 7, I am asham'd 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.
Carlyle On Heroes i. 12 Wrappage of traditions, hearsays, mere
1847 H. W. Longfellow Evangeline ii. i. 33 Sometimes a rumour, a
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, ashearsay 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.a1586 Sir P. Sidney Arcadia (1593) i. sig. H3,
[Those] Whose metall stiff he knew he could not bende With hear-say, pictures or
a window looke.
1602 R. Carew Surv. Cornwall i. f. 18v, I can in these
Tynne cases, plead but a hearesay experience.
1646 Sir T. Browne
Pseudodoxia Epidemica iii. xxv. 171 An hearsay account by Bellonius.
T. Tryon Way to Health 361 These Hear~say-men or Book-Philosophers, called,
The Learned, are as ignorant as any..of the true knowledge of God in
1738 T. Birch Life Milton App., in Milton Wks. I. 94 All the
Evidence was two hear-say 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 an 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
1826 in Sheridaniana 315 The crude opinions of the hearsay
1859 Tennyson Vivien 800 in Idylls of King She blamed herself
for telling hearsay tales.
b. hearsay evidence n. 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
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 Hear~say evidence of the loosest kind
was freely admitted.
ˈhearsay 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. 3c.1340
Ayenbite (1866) 117 He ne may noþing wel conne bote ase me kan þe batayle of
troye be hyere-zigginge.