The fifth month of the year, in the northern hemisphere usually considered the last month of spring and harbinger of summer. From the late 16th century, May in poetic use also denotes one's bloom or prime.
Recorded from Old English, the name comes from Latin Maius, probably from the name of a deity cognate with the name of the goddess Maia and with magnus ‘great’.
May and January a young woman and an old man as husband and wife, as in Chaucer's Merchant's Tale (c.1395).
May balls at the University of Cambridge, balls held during May Week (see below).
May chickens come cheeping the weakness of chickens born in May is apparent from their continuous feeble cries. The saying is recorded from the late 19th century, and the proverb has also been linked to the idea that marriage in May is unlucky, and that children of such marriages are less likely to survive.
May Day 1 May, celebrated in many countries as a traditional springtime festival or as an international day honouring workers.
May game a performance or entertainment (typically involving the characters of Robin Hood and Maid Marian) forming part of celebrations held on May Day; the merrymaking and sports associated with this. The term is recorded from the early 16th century; by the middle of the century, the phrase make a May game of, meaning make a laughing-stock of someone, had developed.
May meeting each of a succession of annual meetings of various religious and philanthropic societies formerly held during the month of May in Exeter Hall, London, and other buildings.
May Queen a pretty girl chosen and crowned with flowers in traditional celebrations of May Day; in 1591 an allegorical entertainment showing the May Queen being met by her nymphs was presented before Queen Elizabeth I.
May Week at Cambridge University, a week in late May or early June when intercollegiate boat races are held.
See also April showers bring forth May flowers, so many mists in March, so many frosts in May, marry in May, sell in May, sweep the house with broom in May, the 3rd of May at third.