maybe
May May (m[=a]), v. [imp. {Might} (m[imac]t)] [AS. pres. m[ae]g I am able, pret. meahte, mihte; akin to D. mogen, G. m["o]gen, OHG. mugan, magan, Icel. mega, Goth. magan, Russ. moche. [root]103. Cf. {Dismay}, {Main} strength, {Might}. The old imp. mought is obsolete, except as a provincial word.] An auxiliary verb qualifying the meaning of another verb, by expressing: (a) Ability, competency, or possibility; -- now oftener expressed by {can}. [1913 Webster]

How may a man, said he, with idle speech, Be won to spoil the castle of his health! --Spenser. [1913 Webster]

For what he [the king] may do is of two kinds; what he may do as just, and what he may do as possible. --Bacon. [1913 Webster]

For of all sad words of tongue or pen The saddest are these: ``It might have been.'' --Whittier. [1913 Webster] (b) Liberty; permission; allowance. [1913 Webster]

Thou mayst be no longer steward. --Luke xvi. 2. [1913 Webster] (c) Contingency or liability; possibility or probability. [1913 Webster]

Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance Some general maxims, or be right by chance. --Pope. [1913 Webster] (d) Modesty, courtesy, or concession, or a desire to soften a question or remark. [1913 Webster]

How old may Phillis be, you ask. --Prior. [1913 Webster] (e) Desire or wish, as in prayer, imprecation, benediction, and the like. ``May you live happily.'' --Dryden. [1913 Webster]

{May be}, & {It may be}, are used as equivalent to {possibly}, {perhaps}, {maybe}, {by chance}, {peradventure}. See 1st {Maybe}. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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  • maybe — an adverb meaning ‘perhaps’, is such a familiar part of current standard English that it comes as a surprise to know that it fell out of use in the 19c to an extent that caused the OED to label it ‘archaic and dialect’. It has a somewhat informal …   Modern English usage

  • Maybe — May be, adv. [For it may be.] Perhaps; possibly; peradventure. [1913 Webster] Maybe the amorous count solicits her. Shak. [1913 Webster] In a liberal and, maybe, somewhat reckless way. Tylor. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Maybe — May be, a. Possible; probable, but not sure. [R.] [1913 Webster] Then add those maybe years thou hast to live. Driden. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Maybe — May be, n. Possibility; uncertainty. [R.] [1913 Webster] What they offer is mere maybe and shift. Creech. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • maybe — (adv.) early 15c., from (it) may be; see MAY (Cf. may) (v.1) + BE (Cf. be) (v.). Still sometimes written as two words early 19c …   Etymology dictionary

  • maybe — [adv] possibly as it may be, can be, conceivable, conceivably, could be, credible, feasible, imaginably, it could be, might be, obtainable, perchance, perhaps, weather permitting; concept 552 Ant. certainly, definitely, surely …   New thesaurus

  • maybe — ► ADVERB ▪ perhaps; possibly …   English terms dictionary

  • maybe — [mā′bē] adv. [ME (for it may be)] perhaps …   English World dictionary

  • Maybe — Perchance redirects here. For the phrase with the word, see To be, or not to be. Maybe may refer to: Music Maybe, a song written in 1926 by George and Ira Gershwin, from the musical Oh, Kay! Maybe (1935 song), a 1935 song by Allan Flynn and Frank …   Wikipedia

  • maybe — [[t]me͟ɪbi[/t]] ♦♦ 1) ADV: ADV with cl/group (vagueness) You use maybe to express uncertainty, for example when you do not know that something is definitely true, or when you are mentioning something that may possibly happen in the future in the… …   English dictionary

  • maybe */*/*/ — UK [ˈmeɪbɪ] / US adverb Summary: Maybe can be used in the following ways: as a sentence adverb, making a comment on the whole sentence or clause: Maybe I ll come too. as an ordinary adverb (before a number): There were maybe 15 people there. Get… …   English dictionary

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