What Makes You Say So: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 17, 2023

The idiom "what makes you say so" is a frequent part of many conversations, serving to elicit more information or reasoning from the speaker. This handy phrase invites further explanation about an assertion or statement just made. It is often used in serious and casual dialogues, making it an excellent tool for better understanding any discussion.

In short:

  • It prompts the speaker to provide more information or context.
  • It shows interest in understanding the speaker's perspective.

What Does "What Makes You Say So" Mean?

The idiom "what makes you say so" is a polite way of asking for the reasoning behind someone's statement or assertion. It is often used when the listener wants to understand the basis or rationale of what the speaker has said.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning:

  • The core meaning of the idiom is to ask someone for their reason, evidence, or justification for making a statement or expressing an opinion.
  • Use it to show curiosity, interest, doubt, disagreement, or challenge toward someone’s claim or point of view.
  • Some synonyms or similar expressions for the idiom are: what makes you think so, why do you say that, what’s your basis for saying so, how do you know that, etc.
  • A question mark usually follows it and can be used in both formal and informal contexts. It can also be preceded by words like “just,” “really,” or “honestly” to add emphasis or tone. For example: "Really, what makes you say so?" "Honestly, what makes you say so?"

Where Does "What Makes You Say So" Come From?

The exact origin of the idiom is unknown, but it is believed to have been used in the English language since the 1800s. It has since become a common phrase in everyday conversation and popular culture. Its usage has been recorded in various forms of literature and conversations for several decades.

Historical Example

"I know that well enough: but what makes you say so?"

- Some Opinions of Mr. Hobbs, John Eachard, 1673

10 Examples of "What Makes You Say So" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the phrase in use:

  • When he suggested that the team would lose, I asked, what makes you say so?
  • She seemed certain that it would rain. I was curious and asked her, what makes you say so?
  • She only has negative things to say about last night's event. I asked him what made him say so, but she didn’t give me a clear answer.
  • You casually stated the car was repoed; what makes you say so?
  • You claim that your experience makes you the best candidate for the job - what makes you say so?
  • Kidding aside, when you suggest we're making good progress, what makes you say so?
  • You described Mrs. Johnson as prim and proper; what makes you say so?
  • He looked surprised when she said she was leaving the city. "What makes you say so?" He asked, hoping she would reconsider.
  • When you feel blue, and someone tells you it's all in your head, tell them, "What makes you say so?"
  • After the near miss, you were convinced we had dodged a bullet. What makes you say so?

Examples of "What Makes You Say So" in Pop Culture

Here are some examples of the idiom in use:

  • The 2017 book Developing Writers of Argument by Michael W. Smith and John-Philip Imbrenda uses the phrase in this quote: "Data are the answer to the question 'What makes you say so?'"
  • The 2006 romance book Who Makes Up These Rules, Anyway also includes the line: "'What makes you say so?' 'Actually, Bobbie, my neighbor, says so.'"

Other/Different Ways to Say "What Makes You Say So"

Some alternative phrases to "what makes you say so" include:

  • What's your reasoning?
  • Why do you think so?
  • Can you elaborate?
  • What's the basis for your statement?
  • Could you explain further?
  • What led you to that conclusion?
  • Why do you feel that way?
  • Can you provide more context?

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "What Makes You Say So":

  • What does "what makes you say so" mean?

It is a phrase used to request further information or explanation about a statement or opinion that has just been expressed.

  • What is the origin of "what makes you say so"?

The exact origin of "what makes you say so" is unclear, but it's a universally understood expression, used in many languages to seek additional context or understanding.

  • How can I use "what makes you say so" in a sentence?

The phrase "what makes you say so" is used in a conversation after someone makes a statement or assertion, to ask for more information or explanation. For example, "You mean she's afraid to fall in love again, but what makes you say so?

  • What are some alternatives to "what makes you say so"?

Some alternatives include "Can you elaborate?", "What led you to that conclusion?", and "What's your reasoning?"

  • Is it appropriate to use in a formal conversation?

Yes, "what makes you say so" can be used in both formal and informal conversations. It's a polite way of requesting additional information or clarification.

  • Can it be used to challenge someone's opinion?

Yes, the phrase can be used to challenge someone's opinion in a polite and non-confrontational manner.

  • Is it considered a rhetorical question?

No, "what makes you say so" is not typically a rhetorical question. It is generally used when the asker genuinely wants to understand the reasoning or evidence behind a statement.

  • Is it considered an idiom or a common phrase?

It can be considered both an idiom and a common phrase. As an idiom, it's a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words. As a common phrase, it's frequently used in everyday conversations.

  • Does it always indicate doubt or disbelief?

No, while "what makes you say so" can be used to express doubt or disbelief, it can also simply be a request for more information or clarification.

  • Can it be used in written form, like in an email or letter?

Yes, "what makes you say so" can be used in written form to ask for further details or explanation about a particular point or statement.

Final Thoughts about "What Makes You Say So"

"What makes you say so" is a versatile and common idiom that invites further explanation or reasoning. It's a tool that can be utilized in both informal chats and formal discussions to deepen understanding and communication. Its meaning and usage can vary slightly based on the context and tone, but it consistently serves to elicit more information.

Here's a quick summary:

  • "What makes you say so," asks for additional information or explanation.
  • It can be used to challenge a statement in a non-confrontational manner.
  • The phrase can show interest in understanding the speaker's viewpoint.
  • It has numerous alternatives, including "Can you elaborate?" and "What led you to that conclusion?"

The idiom "what makes you say so" may seem simple, but understanding its subtleties can enhance your conversational abilities and communication skills. It's another testament to the complexity and richness of the English language.

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