(used to express possibility): It may rain.
(used to express opportunity or permission): You may enter.
(used to express contingency, especially in clauses indicating condition, concession, purpose, result, etc.): I may be wrong but I think you would be wise to go. Times may change but human nature stays the same.
(used to express wish or prayer): May you live to an old age.
Archaic. (used to express ability or power.)
- Compare might1.
Other definitions for may (2 of 3)
Other definitions for May (3 of 3)
the fifth month of the year, containing 31 days.
the early part of one's life, especially the prime: a young woman in her May.
the festivities of May Day.
(lowercase)British. the hawthorn.
a female given name.
Cape, a cape at the SE tip of New Jersey, on Delaware Bay.
(lowercase) to gather flowers in the spring: when we were maying.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use may in a sentence
A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in may, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.Record 13,000 unaccompanied migrant kids projected to cross the U.S. border in May | Stef W. Kight | February 26, 2021 | Axios
The earliest that could happen is may — too late, say landlords, who argue that without access to the court, they can’t remove bad or violent tenants putting other residents at risk.Judge denies District’s latest request to stop eviction filings | Kyle Swenson | February 26, 2021 | Washington Post
Earlier this month, Moore announced that in may he would end his four-year tenure at the New York City-based Robin Hood Foundation, a nonprofit group that works on anti-poverty measures.Author, activist Wes Moore weighs bid for Maryland governor | Erin Cox | February 25, 2021 | Washington Post
China’s first trip to Mars will also attempt the difficult task of landing sometime in may or June.What Mars exploration means for international politics back on earth | Tim Fernholz | February 18, 2021 | Quartz
Carolyn LydenDirector of Search ContentGoogle told site owners in may that Core Web Vitals would become part of its algorithms in 2021, and most SEOs have been working to improve their metrics before the launch.Are Core Web Vitals worth the trouble? And confusion around passage ranking; Tuesday’s daily brief | Carolyn Lyden | February 16, 2021 | Search Engine Land
Willie Nelson and Norah Jones may-December fireplace flirting.The Most WTF Covers of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ Everyone’s Favorite Date-Rape Holiday Classic | Kevin Fallon | November 19, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Under the strain of that feeling, many single men through the ages have adopted a devil-may-care attitude.Money and Guns: How We Escape Our Existential Dread | James Poulos | April 18, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Can you imagine Walters, his executive-producing partner, post-may 16, lurking with him behind the cameras?
Jollity and gloom were contending for an empire,” wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne in his story “The may-Pole of Merry Mount.
Then will come mid-may, when Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling again.
His attitude was somewhat devil-may-care, his grip on life itself seemed slipping.The Wave | Algernon Blackwood
In certain moods he possessed that dash and devil-may-care air which pleases most women, providing the man is a cosmopolitan.The Doctor of Pimlico | William Le Queux
I recollect your 'may-day in the morning'—cuss me, the best comick song I ever heard.Memoirs of Mr. Charles J. Yellowplush | William Makepeace Thackeray
On dark cold windy days, during the may-fly season you will find the small fly a much better killer than the may-fly.The Teesdale Angler | R Lakeland
may-be you expected to have a china bowl and pitcher in your room, and somebody to empty your slop.The English Orphans | Mary Jane Holmes
British Dictionary definitions for may (1 of 5)
to indicate that permission is requested by or granted to someone: he may go to the park tomorrow if he behaves himself
(often foll by well) to indicate possibility: the rope may break; he may well be a spy
to indicate ability or capacity, esp in questions: may I help you?
to express a strong wish: long may she reign
to indicate result or purpose: used only in clauses introduced by that or so that: he writes so that the average reader may understand
another word for might 1
to express courtesy in a question: whose child may this little girl be?
be that as it may in spite of that: a sentence connector conceding the possible truth of a previous statement and introducing an adversative clause: be that as it may, I still think he should come
come what may whatever happens
that's as may be (foll by a clause introduced by but) that may be so
British Dictionary definitions for may (2 of 5)
an archaic word for maiden
British Dictionary definitions for may (3 of 5)
British Dictionary definitions for May (4 of 5)
the fifth month of the year, consisting of 31 days
British Dictionary definitions for May (5 of 5)
Robert McCredie, Baron. born 1936, Australian biologist and ecologist
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Other Idioms and Phrases with may
see be that as it may; come what may; let the chips fall where they may; to whom it may concern.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.