may1 W1S1 [meı] modal v
2¦(possible to do something)¦
4¦(in polite expressions)¦
5¦(although )¦
6 may as well
7 may somebody/something do something
9 be that as it may
10 may well
[: Old English; Origin: mAg]
if something may happen or may be true, there is a possibility that it will happen or be true but this is not certain
= ↑might
I may be late, so don't wait for me.
Some chemicals may cause environmental damage.
There may not be enough money to pay for the repairs.
Well, I may have been wrong.
They may have called while you were out.
It may be that Minoan ships were built and repaired here.
Your job may well involve some travelling (=it is fairly likely) .
if something may be done, completed etc in a particular way, that is how it is possible to do it
= ↑can
The problem may be solved in a number of different ways.
3.) ¦(ALLOWED)¦
a) used to say that someone is allowed to do something
= ↑can
Thank you. You may go now.
There is a set of rules to show what members may and may not do.
You may sit down or stand, just as you wish.
No one may own more than 10% of the shares.
b) may I/we ...?
spoken formal used to ask politely for permission to do something
May I come in and wait?
May we use your office for a few minutes?
spoken formal used to say, ask, or suggest something in a polite way
All these things, if I may say so, are entirely irrelevant.
Who, may I ask, is Wotherspoon?
May I suggest that you consider the matter further before taking any action.
5.) ¦(ALTHOUGH )¦
used to say that even though one thing is true, something else which seems very different is also true
I may be slow, but at least I don't make stupid mistakes.
Although this may sound like a simple process, great care is needed.
Strange as it may seem, I always felt I belonged here.
6.) may as well
spoken used to suggest that someone should do something, because there is no good reason to do anything else
= ↑might as well
If there's nothing more to do, we may as well go to bed.
You may as well tell us now - we'll find out sooner or later.
7.) may sb/sth do sth
formal used to express a wish or hope
We pray for those who died - may they rest in peace.
It is a fine tradition and long may it continue!
8.) ¦(PURPOSE)¦
formal used after 'so that' or 'in order that' to say that someone does something in order to make something else possible
The hero sacrifices his life so that his friend may live.
9.) be that as it may
formal in spite of what you have just mentioned
Perhaps there isn't one single system that will work for everyone. Be that as it may, we all need order in our lives.
10.) may well
used to say that there is a good reason for a reaction, question, or feeling
'What's all the noise?' 'You may well ask .'
may 2
may2 n [U] BrE
the white or pink flowers of the ↑hawthorn

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

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