may
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

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  • 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

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  • 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 — 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

  • May — May,   1) Angelica, Violoncellistin, * Reutlingen 17. 9. 1938; studierte u. a. bei L. Hoelscher und P. Casals und wurde 1975 Professor an der Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf; bildete mit dem Pianisten Leonard Hokanson (* 1931) ein Duo und mit… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • May — May: May   общепринятое сокращение (обозначение) имени ботаника, которое добавляется к научным (латинским) названиям некоторых таксонов ботанической (бинарной) номенклатуры и указывает на то, что автором этих наименований является… …   Википедия

  • May — May, n. [Cf. Icel. m[ae]r, Goth. mawi; akin to E. maiden. [root]103.] A maiden. [Obs.] Chaucer. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • May — f English: pet form of both MARGARET (SEE Margaret) and MARY (SEE Mary). The popularity of this name, which was at its height in the early 20th century, has been reinforced by the fact that it fits into the series of month names with APRIL (SEE… …   First names dictionary

  • May — (spr. mē), Sir Thomas Erskine, Lord Farnborough, engl. Geschichtschreiber, geb. 1815, gest. 17. Mai 1886, trat 1831 beim Unterhaus als Bibliotheksassistent ein und avancierte allmählich bis zum Clerk (obersten Beamten des Hauses), welche Stelle… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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