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Noun, Verb (usu participle)


Noun may has 2 senses


mayv. [AS. pres. mæg I am able, pret. meahte, mihte; akin to D. mogen, G. mögen, OHG. mugan, magan, Icel. mega, Goth. magan, Russ. moche. Dismay, Main strength, Might. The old imp. mought is obsolete, except as a provincial word.].
     An auxiliary verb qualifying the meaning of another verb,  [1913 Webster]
    "How may a man, said he, with idle speech,
    Be won to spoil the castle of his health!
    "  [1913 Webster]
    "For what he [the king] may do is of two kinds; what he may do as just, and what he may do as possible."  [1913 Webster]
    "For of all sad words of tongue or pen
    The saddest are these: “It might have been.”
    "  [1913 Webster]
    "Thou mayst be no longer steward."  [1913 Webster]
    "Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance
    Some general maxims, or be right by chance.
    "  [1913 Webster]
    "How old may Phillis be, you ask."  [1913 Webster]
May be, It may be, are used as equivalent to possibly, perhaps, maybe, by chance, peradventure. See 1st Maybe.
mayn. [Cf. Icel. mær, Goth. mawi; akin to E. maiden.
     A maiden.  Chaucer.  [1913 Webster]
mayn. [F. Mai, L. Maius; so named in honor of the goddess Maia (Gr. Mai^a), daughter of Atlas and mother of Mercury by Jupiter.].
  •  The fifth month of the year, containing thirty-one days.  Chaucer.  [1913 Webster]
  •  The early part or springtime of life.  [1913 Webster]
    "His May of youth, and bloom of lustihood."  [1913 Webster]
  •  The flowers of the hawthorn; -- so called from their time of blossoming; also, the hawthorn.  [1913 Webster]
    "The palm and may make country houses gay."  [1913 Webster]
    "Plumes that mocked the may."  [1913 Webster]
  •  The merrymaking of May Day.  Tennyson.  [1913 Webster]
Italian may (Bot.), a shrubby species of Spiræa (Spiræa hypericifolia) with many clusters of small white flowers along the slender branches. -- May apple (Bot.), the fruit of an American plant (Podophyllum peltatum). Also, the plant itself (popularly called mandrake), which has two lobed leaves, and bears a single egg-shaped fruit at the forking. The root and leaves, used in medicine, are powerfully drastic. -- May beetle, May bug (Zoöl.), any one of numerous species of large lamellicorn beetles that appear in the winged state in May. They belong to Melolontha, and allied genera. Called also June beetle. -- May Day, the first day of May; -- celebrated in the rustic parts of England by the crowning of a May queen with a garland, and by dancing about a May pole. -- May dew, the morning dew of the first day of May, to which magical properties were attributed. -- May flower (Bot.), a plant that flowers in May; also, its blossom. See Mayflower, in the vocabulary. -- May fly (Zoöl.), any species of Ephemera, and allied genera; -- so called because the mature flies of many species appear in May. See Ephemeral fly, under Ephemeral. -- May game, any May-day sport. -- May lady, the queen or lady of May, in old May games. -- May lily (Bot.), the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). -- May pole. See Maypole in the Vocabulary. -- May queen, a girl or young woman crowned queen in the sports of May Day. -- May thorn, the hawthorn.


may, n.
1 the fifth month of the year.
2 (may) the hawthorn or its blossom.
3 poet. bloom, prime.

may-apple an American herbaceous plant, Podophyllum peltatum, bearing a yellow egg-shaped fruit in May. May-bug a cockchafer. May Day
1 May esp. as a festival with dancing, or as an international holiday in honour of workers. May queen a girl chosen to preside over celebrations on May Day. Queen of the May = May queen.
ME f. OF mai f. L Maius (mensis) (month) of the goddess Maia
may, v.aux. (3rd sing. present may; past might)
1 (often foll. by well for emphasis) expressing possibility (it may be true; I may have been wrong; you may well lose your way).
2 expressing permission (you may not go; may I come in?).

be that as it may (or that is as may be) that may or may not be so (implying that there are other factors) (be that as it may, I still want to go).
Both can and may are used to express permission; in more formal contexts may is usual since can also denotes capability (can I move? = am I physically able to move?; may I move = am I allowed to move?).
3 expressing a wish (may he live to regret it).
4 expressing uncertainty or irony in questions (who may you be?; who are you, may I ask?).
5 in purpose clauses and after wish, fear, etc. (take such measures as may avert disaster; hope he may succeed).
OE m{aelig}g f. Gmc, rel. to MAIN(1), MIGHT(2)
See related words and definitions of word "may" in Indonesian
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