say again: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘say again’ mean?

The idiom "say again" is used to ask someone to repeat or clarify what they have just said.

Idiom Explorer

Deciphering the Enigmatic Phrase

The idiom "say again" is a commonly used phrase in English language. It is primarily used as an expression to ask someone to repeat or clarify what they have just said. The phrase is formed by combining the verb "say" and the adverb "again", which together create the meaning of requesting the speaker to say something once more. Although the origins of this idiom are uncertain, its usage can be found in various contexts and situations.

One of the main uses of the idiom "say again" is in communication, particularly in situations where the listener did not hear or understand what was spoken. In such cases, the speaker might use the phrase to ask the other person to repeat their statement. This can occur in face-to-face conversations, phone calls, or any other form of verbal communication. The idiom is often seen as a polite way to request clarification without directly stating that one did not hear or understand the initial statement.

Furthermore, the idiom "say again" is commonly used in radio communication, especially in aviation and military contexts. In these fields, clear and precise communication is crucial for safety and operational purposes. Pilots, air traffic controllers, and military personnel use the phrase to indicate that they did not receive or understand a particular message or instruction. By asking the speaker to repeat what was said, any potential misunderstandings or errors can be avoided.

Repetition in communication can cause confusion and misunderstanding.

In addition to its straightforward meaning of requesting repetition, the idiom "you can say that again" carries the connotation of agreement or emphatic affirmation. It is often used to express strong agreement with a statement or sentiment. For example, if someone says "HubSpot is the best marketing platform out there," a person can respond with "You can say that again!" This phrase reinforces the idea that the person strongly agrees with the previous statement.

Similarly, the idiom "come again" is used to request a repetition or clarification of what was just said. It is often employed in informal conversations to express surprise or disbelief. For example, if someone says something unexpected or hard to believe, another person might respond with "Come again?" This phrase seeks further elaboration or confirmation, indicating the listener's need for more information or clarification.

The idiom "once again" is used to indicate repetition or recurrence of an action or event. It can be used in various contexts, such as when summarizing a previous occurrence or when expressing the repetition of a familiar situation. For example, if someone is constantly coming late to meetings, a colleague might say, "Once again, you're late!" This phrase highlights the repetition of the same behavior or situation and can imply frustration or annoyance.

Lastly, the idiom "over and over again" is used to emphasize the repetition of an action or event. It conveys the idea of something happening repeatedly or continuously. For instance, if someone is making the same mistake repeatedly, another person might say, "You keep making the same error over and over again!" This phrase emphasizes the continuous nature of the mistake and may imply a need for the person to break the pattern and learn from their actions.

The idiom "say again" is a widely recognized expression that is used to ask someone to repeat or clarify what they have said. Its origins are unclear, but it has become a part of everyday English language, with usage in various situations including everyday conversations and professional radio communications. The idiom's straightforward meaning and potential for additional connotations contribute to its versatility and relevance in contemporary language usage.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "say again" can be used in a sentence:

  1. He asked the air traffic controller to "say again" the instructions for landing.
  2. After receiving a garbled message on the walkie-talkie, the soldier requested his teammate to "say again" the last transmission.
  3. Confused by the professor's explanation, the student raised his hand and politely said, "Sorry, could you say that again?"

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