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In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed... No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.
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1828 Noah Webster Dictionary
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may

MAY, n. [L. Maius.]

1. The fifth month of the year, beginning with January, but the third, beginning with March, as was the ancient practice of the Romans.

2. A young woman.

3. The early part of life.

His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.

MAY, v.i. To gather flowers in May-morning.

MAY, verb aux; pret.might.

1. To be possible. We say, a thing may be, or may not be; an event may happen; a thing may be done, if means are not wanting.

2. To have physical power; to be able.

Make the most of life you may.

3. To have moral power; to have liberty, leave, license or permission; to be permitted; to be allowed. A man may do what the laws permit. He may do what is not against decency, propriety or good manners. We may not violate the laws, or the rules of good breeding. I told the servant he might be absent.

Thou mayest be no longer steward. Luke 16.

4. It is used in prayer and petitions to express desire. O may we never experience the evils we dread. So also in expressions of good will. May you live happily, and be a blessing to your country. It was formerly used for can, and its radical sense is the same.

May be, it may be, are expressions equivalent to perhaps, by chance, peradventure, that is, it is possible to be.




Evolution (or devolution) of this word [may]

1828 Webster1844 Webster1913 Webster

MAY, n. [L. Maius.]

1. The fifth month of the year, beginning with January, but the third, beginning with March, as was the ancient practice of the Romans.

2. A young woman.

3. The early part of life.

His May of youth and bloom of lustihood.

MAY, v.i. To gather flowers in May-morning.

MAY, verb aux; pret.might.

1. To be possible. We say, a thing may be, or may not be; an event may happen; a thing may be done, if means are not wanting.

2. To have physical power; to be able.

Make the most of life you may.

3. To have moral power; to have liberty, leave, license or permission; to be permitted; to be allowed. A man may do what the laws permit. He may do what is not against decency, propriety or good manners. We may not violate the laws, or the rules of good breeding. I told the servant he might be absent.

Thou mayest be no longer steward. Luke 16.

4. It is used in prayer and petitions to express desire. O may we never experience the evils we dread. So also in expressions of good will. May you live happily, and be a blessing to your country. It was formerly used for can, and its radical sense is the same.

May be, it may be, are expressions equivalent to perhaps, by chance, peradventure, that is, it is possible to be.


MAY, n. [L. Maius; Fr. Mai; It. Maggio; Sp. Mayo.]

  1. The fifth month of the year, beginning with January, but the third beginning with March, as was the ancient practice of the Romans.
  2. [Goth. mawi. See Maid.] A young woman. [Obs.]
  3. The early part of life. His May of youth and bloom of lustihood. Shak.

MAY, v. [verb aux.; pret. Might. (Sax. magan, to be strong or able, to avail; D. meijen or moogen; G. mögen; Russ. mogu. The old pret. mought is obsolete, but not wholly extinct from our common people. The sense is to strain or press.]

  1. To be possible. We say, a thing may be, or may not be; an event may happen; a thing may be done, if means are not wanting.
  2. To have physical power; to be able. Make the most of life you may. Bourne.
  3. To have moral power; to have liberty, leave, license, or permission; to be permitted; to be allowed. A man may do what the laws permit. He may do what is not against decency, propriety or good manners. We may not violate the laws, or the rules of good breeding. I told the servant he might be absent. Thou mayest be no longer steward. Luke xvi.
  4. It is used in prayer and petitions to express desire. O may we never experience the evils we dread. So also in expressions of good will. May you live happily, and be a blessing to your country. It was formerly used for can, and its radical sense is the same. May be, it may be, are expressions equivalent to perhaps, by chance, peradventure, that is, it is possible to be.

MAY, v.i.

To gather flowers in May-morning. Sidney.


May
  1. An auxiliary verb qualifying the meaning of another verb, by expressing:

    (a)
  2. A maiden.

    [Obs.] Chaucer.
  3. The fifth month of the year, containing thirty-one days.

    Chaucer.
  4. The early part or springtime of life.

    His May of youth, and bloom of lustihood. Shak.

  5. The flowers of the hawthorn; -- so called from their time of blossoming; also, the hawthorn.

    The palm and may make country houses gay. Nash.

    Plumes that mocked the may. Tennyson.

  6. The merrymaking of May Day.

    Tennyson.

    Italian may (Bot.), a shrubby species of Spiræa (S. hypericifolia) with many clusters of small white flowers along the slender branches. -- May apple (Bot.), the fruit of an American plant (Podophyllum peltatum). Also, the plant itself (popularly called mandrake), which has two lobed leaves, and bears a single egg-shaped fruit at the forking. The root and leaves, used in medicine, are powerfully drastic. -- May beetle, May bug (Zoöl.), any one of numerous species of large lamellicorn beetles that appear in the winged state in May. They belong to Melolontha, and allied genera. Called also June beetle. -- May Day, the first day of May; -- celebrated in the rustic parts of England by the crowning of a May queen with a garland, and by dancing about a May pole. -- May dew, the morning dew of the first day of May, to which magical properties were attributed. -- May flower (Bot.), a plant that flowers in May; also, its blossom. See Mayflower, in the vocabulary. -- May fly (Zoöl.), any species of Ephemera, and allied genera; -- so called because the mature flies of many species appear in May. See Ephemeral fly, under Ephemeral. -- May game, any May-day sport. -- May lady, the queen or lady of May, in old May games. -- May lily (Bot.), the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). -- May pole. See Maypole in the Vocabulary. -- May queen, a girl or young woman crowned queen in the sports of May Day. -- May thorn, the hawthorn.

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May

MAY, noun [Latin Maius.]

1. The fifth month of the year, beginning with January, but the third, beginning with March, as was the ancient practice of the Romans.

2. A young woman.

3. The early part of life.

His may of youth and bloom of lustihood.

MAY, verb intransitive To gather flowers in May-morning.

MAY, verb aux; preterit tense might.

1. To be possible. We say, a thing may be, or may not be; an event may happen; a thing may be done, if means are not wanting.

2. To have physical power; to be able.

Make the most of life you may

3. To have moral power; to have liberty, leave, license or permission; to be permitted; to be allowed. A man may do what the laws permit. He may do what is not against decency, propriety or good manners. We may not violate the laws, or the rules of good breeding. I told the servant he might be absent.

Thou mayest be no longer steward. Luke 16:4.

4. It is used in prayer and petitions to express desire. O may we never experience the evils we dread. So also in expressions of good will. may you live happily, and be a blessing to your country. It was formerly used for can, and its radical sense is the same.

MAY be, it may be, are expressions equivalent to perhaps, by chance, peradventure, that is, it is possible to be.

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Word of the Day

importance

IMPORT'ANCE, n.

1. Weight; consequence; a bearing on some interest; that quality of any thing by which it may affect a measure, interest or result. The education of youth is of great importance to a free government. A religious education is of infinite importance to every human being.

2. Weight or consequence in the scale of being.

Thy own importance know.

Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.

3. Weight or consequence in self-estimation.

He believes himself a man of importance.

4. Thing implied; matter; subject; importunity. [In these senses, obsolete.]

Random Word

galliard

GAL'LIARD, a. Gay; brisk; active.

GAL'LIARD, n. A brisk, gay man; also, a lively dance.

Noah's 1828 Dictionary

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Noah Webster, the Father of American Christian education, wrote the first American dictionary and established a system of rules to govern spelling, grammar, and reading. This master linguist understood the power of words, their definitions, and the need for precise word usage in communication to maintain independence. Webster used the Bible as the foundation for his definitions.

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