Come What May – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

“Come what may” is a phrase we commonly use in the English language to show our strong determination to overcome challenges and obstacles, no matter what the circumstances are. It’s a phrase usually associated with things like resilience, perseverance, and an unwavering commitment to a cause or goal. But how do you use it correctly? I’ll show you!

Come What May Meaning Explained

Come What May Idiom Origin Meaning

When you use the English idiom “come what may,” you’re also saying “whatever happens” or “no matter what obstacles or challenges interfere.” It just implies a willingness to face whatever might come your way without giving up or losing hope in the cause.

Come What May Origin and Etymology

If you go back far enough to the 1300s, you’ll find that the phrase comes from the French language, like a lot of the phrases we use in English today. The French version was avalze que valze which translates to “let it avail what it may, come what may.” But that’s just far wordy for modern English.

Good ol’ Shakespeare was the one who coined it in the 1600s and made it popular when he used it in the third act and fifth scene of Macbeth as, “Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day.”

When to Use Come What May

Reserve this phrase for us in situations with some uncertainty or even risk and where a strong commitment or determination is needed to overcome obstacles or challenges ahead of us.

It’s totally acceptable to use it in both personal and professional contexts, like when you’re facing a hard decision or pursuing some sort of challenging goal. Also, in some contexts, you can use it to express your willingness to accept the consequences of someone’s actions, even if they are difficult or unpleasant to deal with.

What Is Another Way to Say Come What May?

  • No matter what
  • Regardless
  • Whatever happens
  • Rain or shine
  • Through thick and thin
  • Hakuna matata
  • Whatever the outcome
  • Win or lose
  • Against all odds

Using Come What May in a Sentence

Come What May Idiom Origin Meaning 1
  • I’m committed to finishing this project on time, come what may.
  • Come what may, we will save enough for a down payment on your dream home in the backcountry.
  • I promise we’re going to see this through to the end, come what may.
  • Come what may, I promise to always love you, Mom.
  • No matter what obstacles we face, we will succeed together, come what may.
  • I’m determined to achieve my publishing goals, come what may.
  • Come what may, I’ll always stand up for what I believe in when it comes to what’s right and wrong.

“We want this event to help the community to come together and then to build on what takes place so that, come what may, we continue to stand and work together.” (The Weirton Daily Times)

You’ll Get It, Come What May

Don’t fret! Learning the ins and outs of the English language is something even the pros will never conquer because it’s constantly changing and continually updating. But “come what may” is an old phrase that’s held its meaning for centuries. So, the next time you want to say, “what happens, happens,” you can also say, “come what may.”