"information communicated by another, gossip," mid-15c., from phrase to hear say (Middle English heren seien, Old English herdon secgan). The notion is "hear (some people) say;" from hear (v.) + say (v.). As an adjective from 1570s. Hearsay evidence (1670s) is that which the witness gives not from his own perception but what was told to him. Compare similar formation in Dutch hooren zeggen, German hörensagen.