Puzzler's Corner

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 22, 2017 is:

mayhap • \MAY-hap\  • adverb

: possibly but not certainly : perhaps


"The very footmen sometimes grinned too broadly, the maidservants giggled mayhap too loud, and a provoking air of intelligence seemed to pervade the whole family." — Sir Walter Scott, Waverly, 1814

"Mayhap this thought will lead to another, that perhaps we should have second thoughts about becoming a society all about consumption." — Cheryl Long Feather (Hunkuotawin), The Bismarck Tribune, 21 Nov. 2007

Did you know?

If mayhap looks to you like a relative of its synonym perhaps, you're right—the words are related. Both ultimately derive from the Middle English noun hap, meaning "chance" or "fortune." Mayhap was formed by combining the phrase "(it) may hap" into a single word (the word maybe, another synonym of mayhap and perhaps, was developed similarly from may and the verb be). Hap in the phrase is a verb essentially meaning "to happen," and the verb hap comes from the noun hap. Perhaps came about when per (meaning "through the agency of") was combined directly with the noun hap to form one word. Today, mayhap is a rare word in contrast with the very common maybe and perhaps, but it does show up occasionally.

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