may Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “may” in the English Dictionary

"may" in British English

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maymodal verb

uk   us   /meɪ/
  • may modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

A2 used to ​expresspossibility: 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 ​faultyelectricalconnection. We'd ​better not ​interfere - she may not like it. There may be some ​evidence to ​suggest she's ​guilty, but it's ​hardlyconclusive.

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  • 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?

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maynoun [U]

uk   us   /meɪ/ (also may blossom)

Maynoun [C or U]

uk   us   /meɪ/
A1 the fifth ​month of the ​year, after ​April and before ​June: My mother's ​birthday is in May. They got ​married on 12 May. We're ​supposed to be ​moving into new ​offices next May.

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  • We went to Crete last May.
  • His ​birthday is in May.
(Definition of may from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"may" in American English

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maymodal verb

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

used to ​expresspossibility: She said she may ​decide to ​accept the ​joboffer and may not.
  • may modal verb (PERMISSION)

used to ​ask or give ​permission: May I use ​yourtelephone?
  • 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.

Maynoun [C/U]

 us   /meɪ/
the fifth ​month of the ​year, after ​April and before ​June
(Definition of may from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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