Come What May

Meanings of “Come What May”

The phrase “come what may” means to let things happen, and do not worry or fear about the challenges. The phrase is often used to throw a challenge when you are not sure what it would result in, and also that your brave enough to accept the consequence of that action.

Origin of “Come What May”

The origin of the phrase “come what may” is stated to be beyond its actual print use in The Bruce by John Barbour, a French work published in 1375. The translated version of the French was as “let it avail  what it may, come what may.” Later it was used by several people including William Shakespeare as given in the fourth example, and also in The New York Times in 1878 such as: … should Parliament endorse that sentiment, come what come may, the might of England shall be put forth with a vigor and earnestness worthy of her old fame.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Come What May by Moulin Rouge

Never knew I could feel like this
Like I’ve never seen the sky before
I want to vanish inside your kiss
Seasons may change, winter to spring
But I Love You, until the end of time

Come what may
Come what may
I will Love You
Until my dying day

The above lines tell how intense is the speaker’s love and he compares the kiss to a sea to vanish in it. This metaphorical language is full of belief that it will happy in the love that the signer has committed to saying “come what may.” The phrase is used with literal meanings here.

Example #2

Come What May by Mattias Ostling  

I cannot see the future
And I do not see the past
But know my friend,
in the eyes of strangers
I see remorse, worry
I see despair
A fear of tomorrow
A fear of the past
Be it work, school,
friends or caste

Take it from someone
who knows,
you are missing out
on all the shows

The past is a burden
that blinds you to the now
Why worry, when nothing
can be done?
Why despond, when the song
has been sung?

The poet presents the modern woes of a common people saying that everybody is full of fear, remorse, and despair of either today or of tomorrow of work, business, relations, or schools. However, whatever everybody is missing are the most interesting things of the present times and replacing them with worries. The poet advises his readers that they should keep the past away instead of making it a burden and do not care about it. The meanings of the phrase have been clarified through this extended metaphor.

Example #3

Come What May by Henry Disney

Within a lapse of less than year
From time my treasured wife had died,
I’m struck by loss of sight in eye
On right, on which I’ve long relied.
As more than thirty years ago
The eye on left was dimmed by mist
Induced by dam to blood supply
To part. This recent sudden twist
Derailed my normal way of life
I strive to concentrate on what
I still can do and leave alone
Concern for tasks that now are not
On options list. Support of friends,
Of children, theirs and kin now keep
Alive a sense of being blessed;
So when my mood is at a neap
A sense of God’s embrace restores
A surge of gratitude. Recall
Of hordes of folk around the world.

This stanza tells of a man who loves his wife intensely and feels it. However, shortly after her death, he loses his right eye due to the grief he experiences, and soon he realizes that he can do with it. Later, he realizes that despite these losses he still feels that he is a blessed person that the folks around him. This positivity has emanated from his sense of “what come may,” which seems to have been used as an extended metaphor.

Example #4


 [Aside] Come what come may,

Time and the hour runs through the roughest day. (Act-I, Scene-III, Lines, 148-149)

The above lines from the first act of Macbeth use this phrase when he comes to know about the issues at hand. Macbeth recalls his own desires provoked by the trio of the witches that he meets on the heath. Without witches, he would not have dared use this phrase. Therefore, it shows its direct meaning and also its metonymic use.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Your careless attitude is exactly like come what may. Be careful when you make a decision based on your feelings.”

Example #2: “Although I have read all of your arguments and your claims. You have supported them with pieces of evidence that are sound and logical. However, still, they cannot be trusted, for you have come what may attitude that is not correct.”

Example #3: “Following his retreat from the hill, the entire battalion was wiped out within a minute in the coming artillery fire. It was his come what may attitude that has cost hundreds of lives plus fifty maimed soldiers who would be a burden for their families for years to come.”

Example #4: “It is his come what may attitude that has not impacted others at all. In fact, all others are now following him.”

Example #5: “Following a long summer, the sudden arrival of winter has rather badly impacted his come what may attitude and he felt the coldness of the weather. Whenever others showed the same come what may attitude, he felt anger.”