Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “may”

may

modal verb  /meɪ/ (present tense may, past tense might  /mɑɪt/) us  

may modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

used to express possibility: She said she may decide to accept the job offer and may not.

may modal verb (PERMISSION)

used to ask or give permission: May I use your telephone?

may modal verb (SUGGESTION)

used to make a suggestion or suggest a possibility in a polite way: You may want to have a bite to eat before you leave.
(Definition of may modal verb from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of may?
Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Possible and probable, but you might be interested in these topics from the Chance and possibility topic area:

Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “may” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

give the green light to sth

to give permission for someone to do something or for something to happen

Word of the Day

Highly delighted, bitterly disappointed, ridiculously cheap: adverbs for emphasis.

by Liz Walter,
October 22, 2014
We often make adjectives stronger by putting an adverb in front of them. The most common ones are very and, for a stronger meaning, extremely: He was very pleased. The ship is extremely large. However, we don’t use very or extremely for adjectives that already have a strong meaning, for example fantastic,

Read More 

life tracking noun

October 20, 2014
the use of one or more devices or apps to monitor health, exercise, how time is spent, etc.

Read More