May v. [imp. Might ] An auxiliary verb qualifying the meaning of another verb, by expressing: (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. --Bacon.
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.”
May be, ∧ It may be, are used as equivalent to possibly, perhaps, maybe, by chance, peradventure. See 1st Maybe.
Might imp. of May.
Might, n. Force or power of any kind, whether of body or mind; energy or intensity of purpose, feeling, or action; means or resources to effect an object; strength; force; power; ability; capacity.
What so strong,
But wanting rest, will also want of might? --Spenser.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. --Deut. vi. 5.
With might and main. See under 2d Main.
n : physical strength [syn: mightiness, power]