Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
The Collaborative International Dictionary
May \May\ (m[=a]), v. [imp. Might (m[imac]t)] [AS. pres. m[ae]g I am able, pret. meahte, mihte; akin to D. mogen, G. m["o]gen, OHG. mugan, magan, Icel. mega, Goth. magan, Russ. moche. [root]103. Cf. Dismay, Main strength, Might. The old imp. mought is obsolete, except as a provincial word.] An auxiliary verb qualifying the meaning of another verb, by expressing:
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!
For what he [the king] may do is of two kinds; what he may do as just, and what he may do as possible.
For of all sad words of tongue or pen The saddest are these: ``It might have been.''
Liberty; permission; allowance.
Thou mayst be no longer steward.
--Luke xvi. 2.
Contingency or liability; possibility or probability.
Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance Some general maxims, or be right by chance.
Modesty, courtesy, or concession, or a desire to soften a question or remark.
How old may Phillis be, you ask.
Desire or wish, as in prayer, imprecation, benediction, and the like. ``May you live happily.''
Might \Might\ (m[imac]t), imp. of May. [AS. meahte, mihte.]
Might \Might\, n. [AS. meaht, miht, from the root of magan to be able, E. may; akin to D. magt, OS. maht, G. macht, Icel. m[=a]ttr, Goth. mahts. [root]103. See May, v.] 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?
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.
Might may refer to:
- might, one of the English modal verbs
- "Might", a song by Modest Mouse from their 1996 album This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About
- Might magazine, a magazine founded by American author Dave Eggers
- Might!, a 1995 album by Boyd Rice under the moniker NON
- USS Might (PG-94), corvette of the US Navy
- Strength (disambiguation)
Might was a San Francisco-based magazine co-founded in the early 1990s by David Moodie, Marny Requa and Dave Eggers, who went on to describe the magazine's rise and fall in his bestselling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
With its name meant to suggest both "power" and "possibility," the magazine might be summarized as an effort by twentysomethings to say something instead of nothing. Might went out of business in 1997, but back issues are still available through the Web site of Eggers's philanthropic writing organization, 826 Valencia.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
Old English mihte, meahte, originally the past tense of may (Old English magen "to be able"), thus "*may-ed." See may (v.). The first record of might-have-been is from 1848.
Old English miht, earlier mæht "might, bodily strength, power, authority, ability," from Proto-Germanic *makhti- (cognates: Old Norse mattr, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Dutch macht, Old High German maht, German Macht, Gothic mahts), Germanic suffixed form of PIE root *magh- (1) "be able, have power" (see may (v.)).
(context obsolete chiefly before 1900 English) mighty; powerful; possible. n. 1 (context uncountable English) power, strength, force or influence held by a person or group. 2 (context uncountable English) physical strength. 3 (context uncountable English) The ability to do something. Etymology 2
(lb en auxiliary) Used to indicate conditional or possible actions.
Usage examples of "might".
The Empress might have enough support among the nobles to keep a precarious hold on her throne, but she had made no overtures to the common folk, and they were solidly opposed to the idea of an Aberrant ruler.
That quest was abetted by a sympathetic schoolteacher, Rebecca, who saw in the lad a glimmering hope that occasionally there might be resurrection from a bitter life sentence in the emotionally barren and aesthetically vitiated Kentucky hamlet, and who ultimately seduced him.
Had it not been for a determined English professor named Arthur Holmes, the quest might well have fallen into abeyance altogether.
I will not wear thy soul with words about my grief and sorrow: but it is to be told that I sat now in a perilous place, and yet I might not step down from it and abide in that land, for then it was a sure thing, that some of my foes would have laid hand on me and brought me to judgment for being but myself, and I should have ended miserably.
Now he thought that he would abide their coming and see if he might join their company, since if he crossed the water he would be on the backward way: and it was but a little while ere the head of them came up over the hill, and were presently going past Ralph, who rose up to look on them, and be seen of them, but they took little heed of him.
Now Ralph, he and his, being known for friends, these wild men could not make enough of them, and as it were, compelled them to abide there three days, feasting them, and making them all the cheer they might.
He was almost convinced that reducing a tree to lumber expunged whatever might be abiding within when he saw the long, hooked tongue emerge from the wall behind the bed.
For a fraction of an instant Abie caught herself wondering what he might look like with no shirt.
Even the news that the Yorktown, after quelling the fires and resuming fleet speed, had been torpedoed in a second attack, was again ablaze and listing, and might be abandoned, could be taken in stride.
I was really frightened because I thought, if she realised we were Aboriginal, she might have the children taken away.
You see, the police were called Protectors of Aborigines in those days, so we thought we might get some protection from them.
I respond by pointing out that one of those babies that was aborted thirty years ago might have grown up to be a brilliant scientist and could have discovered the cure for AIDS.
Then the courage came into his body, and with a great might he abraid upon his feet, and smote the black and yellow knight upon the helm by an overstroke so fierce that the sword sheared away the third part of his head, as it had been a rotten cheese.
He might abuse her in some other way, such as by inserting his fingers or an object to demonstrate his control and contempt, and in fact, we soon learned of the vaginal abrasions and bruising.
However, the Supreme Court declined to sustain Congress when, under the guise of enforcing the Fourteenth Amendment by appropriate legislation, it enacted a statute which was not limited to take effect only in case a State should abridge the privileges of United States citizens, but applied no matter how well the State might have performed its duty, and would subject to punishment private individuals who conspired to deprive anyone of the equal protection of the laws.