Last name origins & meanings:

  1. English and French: nickname for a lighthearted or cheerful person, from Middle English, Old French gai. In Middle English the term could also mean ‘wanton’, ‘lascivious’ and this sense may lie behind the surname in some instances.
  2. English (of Norman origin): habitational name from places in Normandy called Gaye, from an early proprietor bearing a Germanic personal name cognate with Wade.
  3. probably from the Catalan personal name Gai (Latin Gaius), or in some cases a nickname from Catalan gay ‘cheerful’.
  4. Variant of German Gau.
  5. North German: from a Frisian personal name Gay.
  6. A Congregational clergyman and one of the forerunners of the Unitarian movement in New England, Ebenezer Gay (1696–1787) was born in Dedham, MA, which had been founded by his grandfather, John Gay, who came to America from Wiltshire, England, about 1630 and settled in Watertown, MA. Ebenezer’s great-grandson Howard was editor of the American Anti-Slavery Standard.
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