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v. a choice to act or not, or a promise of a possibility, as distinguished from "shall" which makes it imperative. 2) in statutes, and sometimes in contracts, the word "may" must be read in context to determine if it means an act is optional or mandatory, for it may be an imperative. The same careful analysis must be made of the word "shall." Non-lawyers tend to see the word "may" and think they have a choice or are excused from complying with some statutory provision or regulation. (See: shall)

MAY. To be permitted; to be at liberty; to have the power.
     2. Whenever a statute directs the doing of a thing for the sake of justice or the public good, the word may is the same as shall. For example, the 23 H. VI. says, the sheriff may take bail, that is construed he shall, for he is compellable to do so. Carth. 293 Salk. 609; Skin. 370.
     3. The words shall and may in general acts of the legislature or in private constitutions, are to be construed imperatively; 3. Atk. 166; but the construction of those words in a deed depends on circumstances. 3 Atk. 282. See 1 Vern. 152, case. 142 9 Porter, R. 390.

References in periodicals archive ?
o scelere vincens omne femineum genus, o maius ausa matre monstrifer malum genetrice peior
This textus primigenius, Pius goes on to write, has maiorem auctoritatem and maius pondus than any conversio, any translation, whether ancient or modern; and that is because it was written by the inspired author himself (ab ipso sacro auctore conscriptus) (no.
Il sogno dell'Emiliano chiudeva l'opus maius di Cicerone, il De re publica, opera andata perduta nei secoli e di cui si era salvato solo il Somnium, grazie particolarmente al commento di Macrobio.
1264), for example, details in the prologue to his Speculum maius the difficulties posed by the placement of attributions on the page (ch.
a consulibus postea ad dictatores, quia maius imperium erat, solamne clavi figendi causa translatum est" (LIV.
Item dicentium quod agit ex necessitate naturae: quia non extenderet se super caelos: tamen potest in infinitum maius facere; cfr.
Et in hac Trinitate nihil prius aut posterius, nihil maius aut minus: sed totae tres personae coaeternae sibi sunt et coaequales".
Lector opes nostrae; quem cum mihi Roma dedisset/Nil tibi quod demus maius habemus, ait.
He remains faithful to this idea throughout his creative life; for example, in his late An Essay on Metaphysics which deals, among other subjects, with the relevance of the ontological proof for metaphysics, he stresses that the proof does not have any ontological implications: "[W]hat [Anselm] proves is not that because our idea of God is an idea of id quo maius cogitari nequit, therefore God exists, but that because our idea of God is an idea of id quo maius cogitari nequit, we stand committed to belief in God's existence.
12) "Suscipio rursum cum supradictis veritatibus manifestis, communem animi concepcionem, videlicet: omne totum maius esse sua parte, quod verum est tam in magnitudine sive mole, quam eciam in activa virtute et accione.
Lo mismo que habia hecho en obras anteriores, sobre todo en Speculum maius o en Epistola consolatoria de morte amici.