Last name origins & meanings:

  1. Dutch and North German: topographic name for someone living by a quayside, from Dutch kaai ‘quay’, German Kai (which was borrowed from the Dutch).
  2. Danish and Frisian: from the Danish personal name Kai, Kaj, Kay, which is of uncertain origin, most likely from Frisian or Latin Caius.
  3. Japanese: the original meaning is probably ‘shell’, but the name is written phonetically with two characters meaning ‘first class’ or ‘shell’, plus ‘beauty’. Though the surname is found mostly in the island of Kyūshū, some families could have connections with the ancient province of Kai (now Yamanashi prefecture) in the mountains of central Honshū.
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