Origin of Maying

1350–1400; Middle English maiing; see May, -ing1


  1. the fifth month of the year, containing 31 days.
  2. the early part of one's life, especially the prime: a young woman in her May.
  3. the festivities of May Day.
  4. (lowercase) British. the hawthorn.
  5. a female given name.
  6. Cape, a cape at the SE tip of New Jersey, on Delaware Bay.
verb (used without object)
  1. (lowercase) to gather flowers in the spring: when we were maying.

Origin of May

before 1050; Middle English, Old English Maius < Latin, short for Maius mēnsis Maia's month Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for maying

can, will, shall, should

Examples from the Web for maying

Historical Examples of maying

  • But shall I find in any society such an unmeasured freedom of maying?

  • I know you'll like 'Now is the month of maying' and 'The trees all budding'.

  • But then it occurred to me how very seldom one did meet a Quaker nowadays except in the "month of Maying."

    Mystic London:

    Charles Maurice Davies

  • But it takes a great deal to discourage children from going "Maying."

    Small Means and Great Ends

    Edited by Mrs. M. H. Adams

  • It calms the mind to listen to your wife's niece singing, "Oh, that we two were Maying!"

    My Lady Nicotine

    J. M. Barrie

British Dictionary definitions for maying


  1. the traditional celebration of May Day


  1. the fifth month of the year, consisting of 31 days

Word Origin for May

from Old French, from Latin Maius, probably from Maia, Roman goddess, identified with the Greek goddess Maia


  1. Robert McCredie, Baron. born 1936, Australian biologist and ecologist


verb past might (takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive used as an auxiliary)
  1. to indicate that permission is requested by or granted to someonehe may go to the park tomorrow if he behaves himself
  2. (often foll by well) to indicate possibilitythe rope may break; he may well be a spy
  3. to indicate ability or capacity, esp in questionsmay I help you?
  4. to express a strong wishlong may she reign
  5. to indicate result or purpose: used only in clauses introduced by that or so thathe writes so that the average reader may understand
  6. another word for might 1
  7. to express courtesy in a questionwhose child may this little girl be?
  8. 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
  9. come what may whatever happens
  10. that's as may be (foll by a clause introduced by but) that may be so

Word Origin for may

Old English mæg, from magan: compare Old High German mag, Old Norse


It was formerly considered correct to use may rather than can when referring to permission as in: you may use the laboratory for your experiments, but this use of may is now almost entirely restricted to polite questions such as: may I open the window? The use of may with if in constructions such as: your analysis may have been more more credible if … is generally regarded as incorrect, might being preferred: your analysis might have been more credible if


  1. an archaic word for maiden

Word Origin for may

Old English mæg; related to Old High German māg kinsman, Old Norse māgr a relative by marriage


  1. Also: may tree a Brit name for hawthorn
  2. short for may blossom

Word Origin for may

C16: from the month of May, when it flowers
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

Word Origin and History for maying



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with maying


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.