- could [kood]v.aux.[altered (infl. by WOULD, SHOULD) < ME coud < OE cuthe (akin to Goth kuntha, OHG konda, ON kunna), pt. of cunnan, to be able: see CAN1]1. pt. of CAN1 [he gave what he could give]2. used as a modal auxiliary in verbal phrases with present or future time reference, generally equivalent to CAN1 in meaning and use, with the following functions:a) expressing esp. a shade of doubt or a smaller degree of ability or possibility [it could be so]b) expressing permission [could I go?]c) forming the present conditional [it would help if he could wait]d) forming the past conditional [he would have left if he could]e) expressing or suggesting politely less certainty than CAN1 [could you wait?]: As a modal auxiliary, could is followed by an infinitive without tovi.pt. of CAN1 [he gave what he could]vt.pt. of CAN1
English World dictionary. V. Neufeldt. 2014.