Hypertext Webster Gateway: "may"

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

May \May\, v. [imp. {Might}] [AS. pres. m[ae]g I am able, pret.
meahte, mihte; akin to D. mogen, G. m["o]gen, OHG. mugan,
magan, Icel. mega, Goth. magan, Russ. moche. ?. Cf. {Dismay},
{Main} strength, {Might}. The old imp. mought is obsolete,
except as a provincial word.]
An auxiliary verb qualifyng the meaning of another verb, by
(a) Ability, competency, or possibility; -- now oftener
expressed by can.

How may a man, said he, with idle speech, Be won to
spoil the castle of his health ! --Spenser.

For what he [the king] may do is of two kinds; what
he may do as just, and what he may do as possible.

For of all sad words of tongue or pen The saddest
are these: ``It might have been.'' --Whittier.
(b) Liberty; permission; allowance.

Thou mayst be no longer steward. --Luke xvi. 2.
(c) Contingency or liability; possibility or probability.

Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance
Some general maxims, or be right by chance. --Pope.
(d) Modesty, courtesy, or concession, or a desire to soften a
question or remark.

How old may Phillis be, you ask. --Prior.
(e) Desire or wish, as in prayer, imprecation, benediction,
and the like. ``May you live happily.'' --Dryden.

{May be}, & {It may be}, are used as equivalent to possibly,
perhaps, by chance, peradventure. See 1st {Maybe}.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

May \May\, n. [Cf. Icel. m[ae]r, Goth. mawi; akin to E. maiden.
A maiden. [Obs.] --Chaucer.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

May \May\, n. [F. Mai, L. Maius; so named in honor of the
goddess Maia (Gr. ?), daughter of Atlas and mother of Mercury
by Jupiter.]
1. The fifth month of the year, containing thirty-one days.

2. The early part or springtime of life.

His May of youth, and bloom of lustihood. --Shak.

3. (Bot.) The flowers of the hawthorn; -- so called from
their time of blossoming; also, the hawthorn.

The palm and may make country houses gay. --Nash.

Plumes that micked the may. --Tennyson.

4. The merrymaking of May Day. --Tennyson.

{Italian may} (Bot.), a shrubby species of {Spir[ae]a} ({S.
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} (Zo["o]l.), 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} (Zo["o]l.), any species of {Ephemera}, and allied
genera; -- so called because the mature flies of many
species appear in May. See {Ephemeral fly}, under

{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

{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.

From WordNet (r) 1.7 (wn)

n 1: the month following April and preceding June [syn: {May}]
2: thorny Eurasian shrub of small tree having dense clusters of
white to scarlet flowers followed by deep red berries;
established as an escape in eastern North America [syn: {whitethorn},
{English hawthorn}, {Crataegus laevigata}, {Crataegus
v 1: expresses permission; "You may leave now"; "Can I have
another piece of cake?" [syn: {can}, {might}]
2: get to or be allowed to do something; "May I go to the
movies tonight?" "Can I have some ice cream?" "We got to
play video games all day long" [syn: {can}, {get}] [ant: {must

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