May definition

Frequency:
(law) Shall; must.
verb
14
2
Used to express possibility or likelihood.
verb
24
14
Used to express permission.

You may go.

verb
18
9
The fifth month of the year, having 31 days.
noun
9
1
(archaic) A maiden.
noun
16
11
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Used to express contingency, as in clauses of purpose, result, concession, or condition.

They died that we may be free.

verb
8
3
(place) Peninsula at the southernmost point of N.J.: c. 20 mi (32 km) long.
proper name
5
0
Used to express permission.

Yes, you may.

verb
4
1
The springtime of life; youth; prime.
noun
3
0
Used in exclamations and apostrophes to express a wish, hope, or prayer.

May he rest in peace.

verb
12
10
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Used to express a desire or fervent wish.

Long may he live!

verb
3
1
The fifth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar.
noun
3
1
Used to express ability or power.
verb
3
1
To be allowed or permitted to.

May I take a swim? Yes, you may.

verb
2
1
The springtime of life; youth.
noun
2
1
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The English hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) with small, lobed leaves and white, pink, or red flowers.
noun
1
0
Used to indicate a certain measure of likelihood or possibility.

It may rain this afternoon.

verb
1
1
Used to express contingency, purpose, or result in clauses introduced by that or so that .

Expressing ideas so that the average person may understand.

verb
1
1
To be obliged, as where rules of construction or legal doctrine call for a specified interpretation of a word used in a law or legal document.
verb
1
1
The celebration of May Day.
noun
1
1
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Used to express possibility or likelihood.

It may rain.

verb
1
1
The festivities of May Day.
noun
1
1
Springtime.
noun
1
1
Its branches or flowers.
noun
1
1
May is defined as possible or permissible.

An example of may is when you admit that it is possible you are wrong.

An example of may is when you are given permission to go somewhere.

verb
0
0
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(person, proper) A feminine name.
noun
0
0
(intransitive, poetic) To be able to go. [from 9th c.]
verb
0
0
(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?

verb
0
0
(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.

verb
0
0
(subjunctive present, defective) Expressing a wish (with present subjunctive effect). [from 16th c.]

May you win; may the weather be sunny.

verb
0
0
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Used in modesty, courtesy, or concession, or to soften a question or remark.
verb
0
0
The hawthorn bush or its blossoms.
noun
0
0
To gather may.
verb
0
0
anagrams
0
0
The fifth month of the Gregorian calendar, following April and preceding June.
pronoun
0
0
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The hawthorn or its blossoms (as it blooms in May)
pronoun
0
0
A female given name, pet name for Mary and Margaret, reinforced by the month and plant meaning.
pronoun
0
0
pronoun
0
0
A hawthorn or its blossoms.
noun
0
1

Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
may
Plural:
Mays

Origin of may

  • Middle English from Old French Mai from Latin Māius (mēnsis) (the month) of Maia from Māia an Italic goddess meg- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Middle English to be able from Old English mæg first and third person sing. of magan to be strong, be able magh- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • French mai hawthorn from Mai May (so called because it blooms in May) May

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Old English magan, from Proto-Germanic *maganÄ…, from Proto-Indo-European *magÊ°, *megÊ°. Cognate with Dutch mogen, Low German mægen, German mögen, Swedish mÃ¥, Icelandic mega, megum. See also might.

    From Wiktionary

  • From Middle English, from Old English, from Old French mai, from Latin māius (“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

    From Wiktionary

  • French mai, so called because it blossoms in May.

    From Wiktionary