may
Pronunciation Verb

may (may; past might)

  1. (obsolete, intransitive) To be strong; to have power (over). [8th–17th c.]
  2. (obsolete, auxiliary) To be able; can. [8th–17th c.]
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: […], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970 ↗, partition II, section 3, member 6:
      But many times […] we give way to passions we may resist and will not.
  3. (intransitive, poetic) To be able to go. [from 9th c.]
  4. (modal auxiliary verb, defective) To have permission to, be allowed. Used in granting permission and in questions to make polite requests. [from 9th c.]
    you may smoke outside;  may I sit there?
    Synonyms: can, could, might
  5. (modal auxiliary verb, defective) Expressing a present possibility; possibly. [from 13th c.]
    he may be lying;  Schrödinger's cat may or may not be in the box
    Synonyms: could, might
  6. (subjunctive present, defective) Expressing a wish (with present subjunctive effect). [from 16th c.]
    may you win;  may the weather be sunny
    Synonyms: might
  7. Used in modesty, courtesy, or concession, or to soften a question or remark.
Translations Translations Translations
  • French: que + [noun phrase] + subjunctive (verb)
  • Portuguese: que
  • Spanish: que, ojalá que
Noun

may (uncountable)

  1. The hawthorn bush or its blossoms.
Translations Verb

may (mays, present participle maying; past and past participle mayed)

  1. (poetic, intransitive) To gather may, or flowers in general.
  2. (poetic, intransitive) To celebrate May Day.
Noun

may (plural mays)

  1. (archaic) A maiden.

May
Pronunciation Proper noun
  1. The fifth month of the Gregorian calendar, following April and preceding June.
  2. A female given name, pet name for Mary and Margaret, reinforced by the month and plant meaning.
    • 1856 E. D. E. N. Southworth, The Widow's Son, T. B. Peterson (1867), page 210:
      […] I will not send Owen's Lily May to the almshouse." "Lily―what?" demanded Mrs. Morley rather sharply, for she was half provoked with what she mentally called Amy's whim of keeping the outcast child when she might send it to the asylum. "Lily May," said Amy, smiling. "Her name is Mary, and we called her first Little Mary, and then Little May. But Owen calls her Lily May."
    • 1982 Ruth Rendell, The Fever Tree and Other Stories, Hutchinson, ISBN 0091497302, page 119:
      Their parents named them June and May because their birthdays occurred in those months. […] May was like the time of year in which she had been born, changeable, chilly and warm by turns, sullen yet able to know and show loveliness that couldn't last.
    • 2010 Margaret Forster, Isa & May, Chatto & Windus, ISBN 9780701184667, page 5:
      It's an awkward name: Isamay, pronounced Is-a-may. Isa is my paternal grandmother's name (shortened from Isabel) and May my maternal grandmother's (it comes, somehow, from Margaret). The amalgamation is, as you see, strictly alphabetical. Life, I feel, would have been much easier if they had chosen Maybel.
  3. Surname
Related terms Translations Translations
  • Russian: Ма́йя



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