to express courtesy in a question whose child may this little girl be?
be that as it may, in spite of that: a sentence connector conceding the possible truth of a previous statement and introducing an adversative clause be that as it may, I still think he should come
come what may, whatever happens
(foll by a clause introduced by but) that's as may be, that may be so
It was formerly considered correct to use may rather than can when referring to permission as in: you may use the laboratory for your experiments, but this use of may is now almost entirely restricted to polite questions such as: may I open the window? The use of may with if in constructions such as: your analysis may have been more more credible if … is generally regarded as incorrect, might being preferred: your analysis might have been more credible if …
Old English mæg, from magan: compare Old High German mag, Old Norse mā
O.E. mæg "I am able" (inf. magan, p.t. meahte, mihte), from P.Gmc. root *mag-, inf. *maganan (cf. O.Fris. muga, O.N. mega, Du. mogen, Ger. mögen, Goth. magan "to be able"), from PIE *mogh-/*megh- "power" (cf. Gk. mekhos, makhos "means, instrument," O.C.S. mogo "to be able," mosti "power, force," Skt. mahan "great"). Also related to might (q.v.).
1110, from O.Fr. mai, from L. Majus, Maius mensis "month of May," possibly from Maja, Maia a Roman earth goddess (wife of Vulcan) whose name is possibly from PIE *mag-ya "she who is great," fem. suffixed form of base *meg- "great" (cognate with L. magnus). Replaced O.E. þrimilce, month in which cows can be milked three times a day. May marriage have been considered unlucky at least since Ovid's day. Mayflower (1626) was used locally for the cowslip, the lady's smock, and other plants that bloom in May. May apple attested from 1733.