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  /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?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “may” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

sail

When a boat or a ship sails, it travels on the water.

Word of the Day

Byronic, Orwellian and Darwinian: adjectives from names.

by Liz Walter,
April 15, 2015
Becoming an adjective is a strange kind of memorial, but it is often a sign of a person having had real influence on the world. Science is full of examples, from Hippocrates, the Greek medic born around 460 BC, who gave his name to the Hippocratic Oath still used by doctors today,

Read More 

dumbwalking noun

April 20, 2015
walking slowly, without paying attention to the world around you because you are consulting a smartphone He told me dumbwalking probably wouldn’t be a long-term problem.

Read More