May, Mayest, Might - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

May, Mayest, Might

[ 1,,G1410, dunamai ]
to be able, have power," whether by personal ability, permission, or opportunity, is sometimes rendered "may" or "might," e.g., Matthew 26:9; Mark 14:5; Acts 17:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:6. In the following the RV substitutes "can," "canst," "couldst," for the AV, e.g., Matthew 26:42; Mark 4:32; Mark 14:7; Luke 16:2; Acts 24:11; Acts 25:11; Acts 27:12; 1 Corinthians 7:21; 1 Corinthians 14:31 (here the alteration is especially important, as not permission for all to prophesy, but ability to do so, is the meaning); Ephesians 3:4. In the following the RV substitutes the verb "to be able," Acts 19:40; Acts 24:8; Revelation 13:17. See ABLE, B, No. 1.

[ 2,,G1832, exesti ]
"it is premitted, lawful" (eimi, "to be," prefixed by ek, "from"), is rendered "
(I) may" in Acts 2:29, RV [AV, "let (me)"]; in Acts 21:37, "may
(I)," lit., "is it permitted (me to speak)?" Some mss. have it in Acts 8:37, "thou mayest" (AV). See LAWFUL.

[ 3,,G2481, isos ]
"equally" (from the adjective isos, "equal"), is translated "it may be" in Luke 20:13 (i.e., "perhaps").

[ 4,,G5177, tunchano ]
"to meet with, reach, obtain," denotes, intransitively, "to happen, chance, befall;" used impersonally with the conjunction ei, "if," it signifies "it may be," "perhaps," e.g., 1 Corinthians 14:10; 1 Corinthians 15:37, "it may chance;" 1 Corinthians 16:6.


(1) In Matthew 8:28, AV, ischuo, "to have strength, be strong, be well able," is translated "might" (RV, "could").

(2) "May," "might," sometimes translate the prepositional phrase eis, "unto," with the definite article, followed by the infinitive mood of some verb, expressing purpose, e.g., Acts 3:19, "may be blotted out," lit., "unto the blotting out of;" Romans 3:26, "that he might be," lit., "unto his being;" so Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 1:4, "that we may be able," lit., "unto our being able;" Ephesians 1:18, "that ye may know," lit., "unto your knowing;" Acts 7:19; Romans 1:11; Romans 4:16; Romans 12:2; Romans 15:13; Philippians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:10; Hebrews 12:10. In Luke 20:20 the best mss. have hoste, "so as to," RV, as, e.g., in 1 Peter 1:21. Sometimes the article with the infinitive mood without a preceding preposition, expresses result, e.g., Luke 21:22; Acts 26:18 (twice), "that they may turn," RV; cp. Romans 6:6; Romans 11:10; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 3:10, "that I may know;" James 5:17.

(3) The phrases "may be," "might be," are frequently the rendering of the verb "to be," in the subjunctive or optative moods, preceded by a conjunction introducing a condition, or expressing a wish or purpose, e.g., Matthew 6:4; John 14:3; John 17:11. Sometimes the phrase translates simply the infinitive mood of the verb eimi, "to be," e.g., Luke 8:38, lit., "to be (with Him);" so the RV in 2 Corinthians 5:9; in 2 Corinthians 9:5, "that (the same) might be," lit., "(the same) to be."

(4) In Hebrews 7:9 the phrase hos ("so") epos ("a word") eipen ("to say"), i.e., lit., "so to say a word" is an idiom, translated in the RV, "so to say" (AV, "if I may so say"); the Eng. equivalent is "one might almost say."

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words