May May (m[=a]), v. [imp. {Might} (m[imac]t)] [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. [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 mought is obsolete, except as a provincial word.]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. 2000.

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  • Perhaps — Per*haps , adv. [Per + hap chance.] By chance; peradventure; perchance; it may be. [1913 Webster] And pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. Acts viii. 22. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • perhaps — 1520s, formed from M.E. per, par by, through + plural of hap chance (see HAPPEN (Cf. happen)), on model of peradventure, perchance, etc. which now have been superseded by this word …   Etymology dictionary

  • perhaps — [adv] possibly as it may be, as the case may be, conceivably, feasibly, for all one knows, imaginably, it may be, maybe, perchance, reasonably; concept 552 Ant. improbably, never, unlikely …   New thesaurus

  • perhaps — ► ADVERB 1) expressing uncertainty or possibility. 2) used when making a polite request or suggestion. ORIGIN from PER(Cf. ↑per) + HAP(Cf. ↑H) …   English terms dictionary

  • perhaps — [pər haps′] adv. [ PER1 + haps, pl. of HAP1] possibly; maybe …   English World dictionary

  • perhaps — [[t]pə(r)hæ̱ps, præ̱ps[/t]] ♦ 1) ADV: ADV with cl/group (vagueness) You use perhaps to express uncertainty, for example, when you do not know that something is definitely true, or when you are mentioning something that may possibly happen in the… …   English dictionary

  • perhaps — per|haps [ pər hæps ] adverb *** Perhaps can be used in the following ways: as a sentence adverb (making a comment on the whole sentence or clause): Perhaps we ve met before. as an ordinary adverb (before a number): He was perhaps 95. 1. ) used… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • perhaps */*/*/ — UK [pə(r)ˈhæps] / US [pərˈhæps] adverb Summary: Perhaps can be used in the following ways: as a sentence adverb (making a comment on the whole sentence or clause): Perhaps we ve met before. as an ordinary adverb (before a number): He was perhaps… …   English dictionary

  • perhaps — per|haps W1S2 [pəˈhæps, præps US pər , præps] adv [Date: 1400 1500; Origin: per + haps, plural of hap chance (13 20 centuries) ( HAPPY)] 1.) used to say that something may be true, but you are not sure = ↑maybe ▪ Perhaps she s next door. ▪… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • perhaps — adverb 1 possibly; maybe: This is perhaps her finest novel yet. | Perhaps she s next door. | Do you think Mark s upset? Perhaps. | perhaps not: Do you think I dare ask him? Perhaps not. 2 used to say that a number is only a guess: The room was… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • perhaps*/*/*/ — [pəˈhæps] adv 1) used for saying that you are not certain whether something is true I haven t seen them for months – perhaps they ve moved away.[/ex] There were perhaps a dozen women in the audience.[/ex] 2) spoken used when you are making a… …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

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