Come what may

  • Come what may is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom come what may, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


    Come what may means whatever will happen, will happen; to carry on regardless of what may occur. The expression is used when one is resigned to pursuing a certain path no matter what obstacles may come up; it is also used to mean that one will stand firm or may be relied upon no matter what hurdles may occur. A version of the expression come what may was in use in France in the 1300s: “Avalze que valze.” The English version appears in the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, in 1605: “Come what come may, time and the hour run through the roughest day.”



    Come what may, we are all a year older than last year; 10 years older than 2010. (The Desert Sun)

    Is it a fact that if Trump loses, he will reject defeat, come what may? (The Atlantic)

    “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)

    About Grammarist
    Contact | Privacy policy | Home
    © Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist