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I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier
Saying stand and deliver or the devil, he may take you

Source:

http://www.countysongs.ie/song/whiskey-in-the-jar



'Whiskey in the Jar' is a very famous Irish folk song that has been covered many times.


What does' 'may' mean in that sentence? Does it indicate permission, or probability or...?

Gratefully,
Navi

Original Post
@navi posted:

I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier
Saying stand and deliver or the devil, he may take you

. . . What does' 'may' mean in that sentence? Does it indicate permission, or probability or...?

Hello, Navi—In that context, "the devil, he may take you" seems to me to be a hybrid of the set phrases "the devil may care" and "the devil take you" (subjunctive). The use of "or" in that sentence, the first part of which is an imperative, has a conditional meaning. I'd paraphrase it as follows:

  • Either stand and deliver or go to hell.

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