noun Chiefly British
A hawthorn or its blossoms.
Origin of may
French mai hawthorn from Mai May (so called because it blooms in May)
; see May
(third-person singular simple present may, present participle -, simple past might, past participle -)
- (intransitive, poetic) To be able to go. [from 9th c.]
- (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?
- (modal auxiliary verb, defective) Expressing a present possibility; possibly. [from 13th c.]
- he may be lying; SchrÃ¶dinger's cat may or may not be in the box
- (subjunctive present, defective) Expressing a wish (with present subjunctive effect). [from 16th c.]
- may you win; may the weather be sunny
- Used in modesty, courtesy, or concession, or to soften a question or remark.
- May is now a defective verb. It has no infinitive, no past participle, and no future tense. Forms of to be allowed to are used to replace these missing tenses.
- The simple past (both indicative and subjunctive) of may is might
- The present tense is negated as may not, which can be contracted to mayn't, although this is old-fashioned; the simple past is negated as might not, which can be contracted to mightn't.
- May has archaic second-person singular present indicative forms mayest and mayst.
- Usage of this word in the sense of possibly is considered incorrect by some speakers and writers, as it blurs the meaning of the word in the sense have permission to. These speakers and writers prefer to use the word might instead.
- Wishes are often cast in the imperative rather than the subjunctive mood, not using the word may, as in Have a great day! rather than May you have a great day.
From Old English magan, from Proto-Germanic *maganÄ…, from Proto-Indo-European *magÊ°, *megÊ°. Cognate with Dutch mogen, Low German mÃ¦gen, German mÃ¶gen, Swedish mÃ¥, Icelandic mega, megum. See also might.
- The hawthorn bush or its blossoms.
(third-person singular simple present mays, present participle maying, simple past and past participle mayed)
- To gather may.
French mai, so called because it blossoms in May.
- The fifth month of the Gregorian calendar, following April and preceding June.
- The hawthorn or its blossoms (as it blooms in May)
- A female given name, pet name for Mary and Margaret, reinforced by the month and plant meaning.
- A surname.
- May (Mae) is often used in conjoined names (e.g., Lillie Mae, Katie Mae, Fannie Mae).
From Middle English, from Old English, from Old French mai, from Latin mÄius (“Maia's month"), from Maia, a Roman earth goddess, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *magya, she who is great, from Proto-Indo-European base *meg-, great