may1 S1 W1
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]:
possible to do something
The problem may be solved in a number of different ways.
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) 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?
used to say, ask, or suggest something in a polite way:
in polite expressionsspoken formal
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
used to say that there is a good reason for a reaction, question, or feeling:
'What's all the noise?' 'You may well ask.'