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English Idioms and Phrases: Come what may

Updated on November 15, 2012

Meaning

The literal translation of this phrase would be 'no matter what happens' implying that whatever occurs or takes place, it will not change things.

'Come what may to the company, you will receive your salary' - implying that even if the company goes bankrupt, the person will be paid.


Source

Origin

Yet another from Shakespeare like 'a foregone conclusion', but this time the phrase originated from the play 'The Tragedy of Macbeth' (more commonly referred to as Macbeth) was written around 1606. The phrase was originally written 'come what may come' and has the same meaning, but over time the phrase has evolved and simplified to become 'come what may'.

The phrase appears in Act 1, scene 3 when the character of Macbeth says in an aside (direct to the audience):

"Come what come may, Time and the hour runs through the roughest day."

The phrase is very closely related to a Spanish phrase 'Que sera sera' which is used in both it's native form and also in it's translated form in the English language - 'what will be, will be'. The use of foreign expressions in their native language is quite common and others include 'deja vu', 'carpe dium' and 'tempus fugit' among many others.

Alternatives or Synonyms

No matter what, no matter what happens.

Similar Phrases

'que sera sera' (what will be will be), come hell or high water.

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