Last name origins & meanings:
- 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.
- 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.
- English: nickname
from Middle English may ‘young man or woman’.
(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’,
- French: habitational name from any of
various places called May or Le May.
- Jewish (Ashkenazic): habitational name from Mayen, a place in western Germany.
- Americanized spelling of cognates of 1 in various European
languages, for example Swedish
- Chinese: possibly a variant of
Mei 1, although this spelling occurs more often for the given
name than for the surname.
- Cape May, at the mouth of Delaware Bay, is named after the Dutch
explorer Cornelius Jacobsen May.
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