May

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may

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 classic literature ?
Bounderby's retreat, there mellowed into a rustic landscape, golden with heath, and snowy with hawthorn in the spring of the year, and tremulous with leaves and their shadows all the summer time.
The overall effects of hawthorn extract, as determined in a number of studies performed on isolated hearts and whole animals, include increased cardiac contractility, increased cardiac blood flow and decreased blood pressure (Ammon and Handel, 1981).
Numerous studies show hawthorn is most effective when used preventively or to treat mild cardiovascular disease.
In a nearby sunnier spot, you might also insert a Hawthorn tree (Crataegus phaenopyrum) or two, but not directly behind your flowers as the Hawthorn makes a fiery specimen itself and would distract from the bright contrast of the red against green.
A double-blind pilot study at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom showed that hawthorn extract, a popular herbal remedy, had a promising effect on people with mild hypertension.
James Hawthorn, 27, gave officers the slip and sparked a Keystone Kops-type car chase.
The whole country has more hawthorn blossom this spring than it did during the blistering summer of 28 years ago, and nature watchers are predicting that Wales and the UK could be facing their hottest-ever summer.
Treatments consisted of one of three regimens: 1800 mg of hawthorn extract, 900 mg of hawthorn or placebo.
Officer Nicole Hawthorn suffered cuts by an eye, on a lip and on her head in the attack when she and her partner, Henry Romo, were marching the inmates to breakfast.
Hawthorn extract is considered to be a safe, effective treatment for mild to moderate congestive heart failure in some European countries.
Hawthorn extract is considered a safe, effective therapy for mild to moderate congestive heart failure in some European countries, particularly Germany.