- (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.)
Origin of may1
- a maiden.
Origin of may2
- 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.
Origin of May
- to indicate that permission is requested by or granted to someonehe may go to the park tomorrow if he behaves himself
- (often foll by well) to indicate possibilitythe rope may break; he may well be a spy
- to indicate ability or capacity, esp in questionsmay I help you?
- to express a strong wishlong may she reign
- to indicate result or purpose: used only in clauses introduced by that or so thathe writes so that the average reader may understand
- another word for might 1
- to express courtesy in a questionwhose 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 clausebe 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
- an archaic word for maiden
- the fifth month of the year, consisting of 31 days
- Robert McCredie, Baron. born 1936, Australian biologist and ecologist
Word Origin and History for may
Old English mæg "am able" (infinitive magan, past tense meahte, mihte), from Proto-Germanic root *mag-, infinitive *maganan (Old Frisian mei/muga/machte "have power, may;" Old Saxon mag/mugan/mahte; Middle Dutch mach/moghen/mohte; Dutch mag/mogen/mocht; Old High German mag/magan/mahta; German mag/mögen/mochte; Old Norse ma/mega/matte; Gothic mag/magan/mahte "to be able"), from PIE *magh- (1) "to be able, have power" (cf. Greek mekhos, makhos "means, instrument," Old Church Slavonic mogo "to be able," mosti "power, force," Sanskrit mahan "great"). Also used in Old English as a "auxiliary of prediction."
fifth month, early 12c., from Old French mai and directly from Latin Majus, Maius mensis "month of May," possibly from Maja, Maia, a Roman earth goddess (wife of Vulcan) whose name is of unknown origin; possibly from PIE *mag-ya "she who is great," fem. suffixed form of root *meg- "great" (cognate with Latin magnus). Replaced Old English þrimilce, month in which cows can be milked three times a day. May marriages have been considered unlucky at least since Ovid's day. May-apple attested from 1733, American English.
"to take part in May Day festivities," late 15c., from May. Related: Mayed; maying.
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.