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Definition of MAY

3 definitions found:



May \May\ (m[=a]), v. [imp. {Might} (m[imac]t)] [AS. pres. maeg I am able, pret. meahte, mihte; akin to D. mogen, G. m["o]gen, OHG. mugan, magan, Icel. mega, Goth. magan, Russ. moche. [root]103. Cf. {Dismay}, {Main} strength, {Might}. The old imp. mought is obsolete, except as a provincial word.] An auxiliary verb qualifying the meaning of another verb, by expressing: (a) Ability, competency, or possibility; -- now oftener expressed by {can}. [1913 Webster]

               How may a man, said he, with idle speech, Be won to spoil the castle of his health!
                                                    --Spenser. [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.
                                                    --Bacon. [1913 Webster]

               For of all sad words of tongue or pen The saddest are these: "It might have been."
                                                    --Whittier. [1913 Webster] (b) Liberty; permission; allowance. [1913 Webster]

               Thou mayst be no longer steward.     --Luke xvi. 2. [1913 Webster] (c) Contingency or liability; possibility or probability. [1913 Webster]

               Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance Some general maxims, or be right by chance. --Pope. [1913 Webster] (d) Modesty, courtesy, or concession, or a desire to soften a question or remark. [1913 Webster]

               How old may Phillis be, you ask.     --Prior. [1913 Webster] (e) Desire or wish, as in prayer, imprecation, benediction, and the like. "May you live happily." --Dryden. [1913 Webster]

     {May be}, & {It may be}, are used as equivalent to {possibly}, {perhaps}, {maybe}, {by chance}, {peradventure}. See 1st {Maybe}. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]

May \May\, n. [Cf. Icel. maer, Goth. mawi; akin to E. maiden. [root]103.] A maiden. [Obs.] --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]

May \May\, n. [F. Mai, L. Maius; so named in honor of the goddess Maia (Gr. Mai^a), daughter of Atlas and mother of Mercury by Jupiter.]
     1. The fifth month of the year, containing thirty-one days.
        --Chaucer.
        [1913 Webster]

     2. The early part or springtime of life.
        [1913 Webster]

              His May of youth, and bloom of lustihood. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

     3. (Bot.) 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. --Nash. [1913 Webster]

              Plumes that mocked the may.           --Tennyson. [1913 Webster]

     4. The merrymaking of May Day. --Tennyson.
        [1913 Webster]

     {Italian may} (Bot.), a shrubby species of {Spiraea} ({Spiraea 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} (Zool.), 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} (Zool.), 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.
        [1913 Webster]
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]


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