Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “may”

See all translations

may

modal verb uk   /meɪ/ us  

may modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

A2 used to express possibility: There may be other problems that we don't know about. I may see you tomorrow before I leave. The cause of the accident may never be discovered. The explosion may have been caused by a faulty electrical connection. We'd better not interfere - she may not like it. There may be some evidence to suggest she's guilty, but it's hardly conclusive.
More examples

may modal verb (PERMISSION)

B1 formal used to ask or give permission: A reader may borrow up to six books at any one time. "May I help myself to some more food?" "Yes, of course." Hi, my name's Tiffany. How may I help you?
More examples

may modal verb (WISH)

formal used to introduce a wish or a hope: May you have a long and fruitful marriage.

may

noun [U] uk   /meɪ/ ( also may blossom) us  
the flowers of the hawthorn tree
(Definition of may modal verb, noun from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of may?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “may” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

christmassy

typical of Christmas, or happy because it is Christmas

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More