May is a noun and defined as the fifth month of the Gregorian calendar. First used before the 12th century, May is one of the many words in the English language that has its roots in Latin. Historical names for the month of May include the Anglo-Saxon word Thrimilce or “the month of three milkings” since livestock could be milked three times a day because of the abundant harvests.
The word May is named after Maia, the Greek goddess of fertility and nurturer of the earth. However, the Roman poet Ovid suggests that the word May derives from the Latin word for elder “maiories”. In ancient Rome, elders were celebrated in the month of May, in contrast with June, which celebrated younger individuals. Etymologists connect these two meanings and suggest that the Greek goddess Maia gave rise to the Latin adjective “maius” meaning larger or greater in terms of generational precedence. Even today, the US celebrates “Older Americans Month” in the month of May.
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