From Middle English mowen, mayen, moȝen, maȝen, from Old English magan, from Proto-Germanic *maganą, from Proto-Indo-European *megʰ-. Cognate with Dutch mag (“may”, first and third-person singular of mogen (“to be able to, be allowed to, may”)), Low German mögen, German mag (“like”, first and third-person singular of mögen (“to like, want, require”)), Swedish må, Icelandic mega, megum. See also might.
may (third-person singular simple present may, present participle -, simple past might, past participle - or (obsolete) mought)
- (obsolete, intransitive) To be strong; to have power (over). [8th–17th c.]
- (obsolete, auxiliary) To be able; can. [8th–17th c.]
- (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.]
- (modal auxiliary verb, defective) Expressing a present possibility; possibly. [from 13th c.]
- (subjunctive present, defective) Expressing a wish (with present subjunctive effect). [from 16th c.]
- Used in modesty, courtesy, or concession, or to soften a question or remark.
French mai, so called because it blossoms in the month of May.
- The hawthorn bush or its blossoms.
may (third-person singular simple present mays, present participle maying, simple past and past participle mayed)
- (poetic, intransitive) To gather may, or flowers in general.
- (poetic, intransitive) To celebrate May Day.
Shortening of maid, from maiden.
may (plural mays)
- (archaic) A maiden.