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may +‎ -n't


  • IPA(key): /ˈmeɪənt/
  • Hyphenation: may‧n't


mayn't (third-person singular simple present mayn't, present participle -, simple past mightn't, past participle - or (obsolete) moughtn't)

  1. (colloquial, now rare, dated) may not (negative auxiliary[1])
    • 1841Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, ch 40
      I mayn't have much head, master, but I’ve head enough to remember those that use me ill.
    • 1861George Eliot, Silas Marner, ch 17
      "Now, father," said Nancy, "is there any call for you to go home to tea? Mayn't you just as well stay with us?--such a beautiful evening as it's likely to be."
    • 1897Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, ch 9
      "Yes, we went to school in the sea, though you mayn't believe it——"
    • 1914Saki, The Romancers
      You mayn't hardly believe it, but at the present moment I am absolutely without a farthing.
    • 1930H. P. Lovecraft, Madusa's Coil
      I can't help about other people. But I surely would like to have a spot to stop till daylight. Still - if people don't relish this place, mayn't it be because it's getting so run-down?



  1. ^ Arnold M. Zwicky and Geoffrey K. Pullum, Cliticization vs. Inflection: English n’t, Language 59 (3), 1983, pp. 502-513