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might

1
[ mahyt ]
/ maɪt /
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auxiliary verb
simple past tense of may1.
(used to express possibility): They might be at the station.
(used to express advisability): You might at least thank me.
(used in polite requests for permission): Might I speak to you for a moment?
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Other definitions for might (2 of 2)

might2
[ mahyt ]
/ maɪt /

noun
physical strength: He swung with all his might.
superior power or strength; force: the theory that might makes right.
power or ability to do or accomplish; capacity: the might of the ballot box.

Origin of might

2
before 900; Middle English myghte,Old English miht, meaht; cognate with German macht,Gothic mahts; akin to may1

synonym study for might

1-3. See strength.

OTHER WORDS FROM might

mightless, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

MIGHT VS. MAY

What’s the difference between might and may?

Might and may can both be used as auxiliary verbs (helping verbs) that express possibility, as in We may/might have some left—let me check.

Traditionally, might is considered a weaker form of may—meaning that it expresses a lower degree of possibility that something will happen. Some people might intend to use the two words this way, but in practical terms they are often interchangeable when used in this sense—they usually mean just about the same thing.

May and might can also both be used in the context of permission, often as what’s thought to be a more polite substitute for can, as in May/Might I use your restroom? In responses to such questions, it’s usually may that’s used, as in Yes, you may. Saying might in such responses is often meant to make fun of such a use of the word in a way that’s sarcastic or that introduces a condition, usually one that’s not serious, as in Yes, you might, if you knew the password.

May is sometimes used to express a wish, as in May you have success.

Might is sometimes used to express advisability, as in You might ask before you barge in, you know.

In its auxiliary verb sense, might can also be used as the past tense of may. It may seem strange to express possibility in the past tense (now that it is known whether or not something happened), but there are plenty of cases in which it makes sense to do it, such as when it’s still uncertain whether or not something could have happened, as in He might have had a chance to become CEO, but he decided to retire early or She might have come if you had actually invited her. Of course, the word may can also be used in the same way to indicate past tense (She may have come if you had actually invited her).

Here’s an example of might and may used correctly in a sentence.

Example: We might have been able to go today if it hadn’t rained, but in any case we may try to go again tomorrow.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between might and may.

Quiz yourself on might vs. may!

Should may or might be used in the following sentence?

_____ you have a long and happy life!

How to use might in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for might (1 of 2)

might1
/ (maɪt) /

verb
making the past tense or subjunctive mood of may 1 he might have come last night
(often foll by well) expressing theoretical possibility: he might well come . In this sense might looks to the future and functions as a weak form of maySee may 1 (def. 2)

Word Origin for might

OE miht

undefined might

See may 1

British Dictionary definitions for might (2 of 2)

might2
/ (maɪt) /

noun
power, force, or vigour, esp of a great or supreme kind
physical strength
(with) might and main See main 1 (def. 8)

Word Origin for might

Old English miht; compare Old High German maht, Dutch macht
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
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