I. verbal auxiliary (past might; present singular & plural may) Etymology: Middle English (1st & 3d singular present indicative), from Old English mæg; akin to Old High German mag (1st & 3d singular present indicative) have power, am able (infinitive magan), and perhaps to Greek mēchos means, expedient Date: before 12th century 1. a. archaic have the ability to b. have permission to <
you may go now
; be free to <
a rug on which children may sprawl — C. E. Silberman
— used nearly interchangeably with can c. — used to indicate possibility or probability <
you may be right
things you may need
— sometimes used interchangeably with can <
one of those slipups that may happen from time to time — Jessica Mitford
— sometimes used where might would be expected <
you may think from a little distance that the country was solid woods — Robert Frost
2. — used in auxiliary function to express a wish or desire especially in prayer, imprecation, or benediction <
long may he reign
may the best man win
3. — used in auxiliary function expressing purpose or expectation <
I laugh that I may not weep
or contingency <
she'll do her duty come what may
or concession <
he may be slow but he is thorough
or choice <
the angler may catch them with a dip net, or he may cast a large, bare treble hook — Nelson Bryant
4. shall, must — used in law where the sense, purpose, or policy requires this interpretation Usage: see can II. noun Etymology: Middle English, from Old English mǣg kinsman, kinswoman, maiden Date: before 12th century archaic maiden

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • May — May, n. [F. Mai, L. Maius; so named in honor of the goddess Maia (Gr. Mai^a), daughter of Atlas and mother of Mercury by Jupiter.] 1. The fifth month of the year, containing thirty one days. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] 2. The early part or springtime …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • May — ist: ein Familienname, siehe May (Familienname) – dort auch zu Namensträgern eine Berner Patrizierfamilie, siehe May (Patrizierfamilie) ein US amerikanischer Film von Lucky McKee: May (Film) ein englischer weiblicher Vorname, siehe May (Vorname)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • may — may, might 1. With reference to present or future possibility, may and might are both used, but with may the possibility is more open and with might it is more tentative or remote: (may) • The ACLU may have a strong case Economist, 1980 • The… …   Modern English usage

  • May — /may/, n. 1. the fifth month of the year, containing 31 days. 2. the early part of one s life, esp. the prime: a young woman in her May. 3. the festivities of May Day. 4. (l.c.) Brit. the hawthorn. 5. a female given name. v.i. 6. (l.c.) to gather …   Universalium

  • May — puede referirse a: (348) May, asteroide. Brian May (1947 n.), músico británico. Brian May (1934 1997), compositor australiano de música de cine. Kenneth May (1915 1977), matemática estadounidense. Karl May (1842 1912), escritor alemán Ernst May… …   Wikipedia Español

  • 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 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • May — n [U and C] [Date: 1100 1200; : Old French; Origin: mai, from Latin Maius, from Maia Roman goddess] the fifth month of the year, between April and June next/last May ▪ She started work here last May. in May ▪ The theatre opened in May. on May 6th …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • may — MAY. s. m. Le cinquiesme mois de l année. Au mois de May toutes choses reverdissent. le quinziesme de May. à la fin de May. c estoit en May. May a trente un jours. May, signifie aussi, Un arbre qu on a coupé, & qu on plante par honneur au premier …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • may — ► MODAL VERB (3rd sing. present may; past might) 1) expressing possibility. 2) expressing permission. 3) expressing a wish or hope. ● be that as it may Cf. ↑be that as it may …   English terms dictionary

  • may — may1 [mā] v.aux. pt.might [ME < OE mæg, akin to Ger mag, OHG & Goth magan, lit., to be physically capable of doing < IE base * māgh , to be able > MIGHT2] 1. used to express ability or power: now generally replaced by CAN1 2. used to… …   English World dictionary

  • may — An expression of possibility, a permissive choice to act or not, as distinguished from shall, which is an imperative or often mandatory course of action. (See also: shall) Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits Category: Working With a Lawyer… …   Law dictionary

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