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Last name origins & meanings:

  1. English, French, Danish, Dutch, and German: from a short form of the personal name Matthias (see Matthew) or any of its many cognates, for example Norman French Maheu.
  2. English, French, Dutch, and German: from a nickname or personal name taken from the month of May (Middle English, Old French mai, Middle High German meie, from Latin Maius (mensis), from Maia, a minor Roman goddess of fertility). This name was sometimes bestowed on someone born or baptized in the month of May; it was also used to refer to someone of a sunny disposition, or who had some anecdotal connection with the month of May, such as owing a feudal obligation then.
  3. English: nickname from Middle English may ‘young man or woman’.
  4. Irish (Connacht and Midlands): when not of English origin (see 1–3 above), this is an Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Miadhaigh ‘descendant of Miadhach’, a personal name or byname meaning ‘honorable’, ‘proud’.
  5. French: habitational name from any of various places called May or Le May.
  6. Jewish (Ashkenazic): habitational name from Mayen, a place in western Germany.
  7. Americanized spelling of cognates of 1 in various European languages, for example Swedish Ma(i)j.
  8. Chinese: possibly a variant of Mei 1, although this spelling occurs more often for the given name than for the surname.
  9. Cape May, at the mouth of Delaware Bay, is named after the Dutch explorer Cornelius Jacobsen May.
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