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Meaning and Origin of: May

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First name origins & meanings:

  • Greek : High tower
  • Hebrew : Woman from Magdala; variation of Magdalene
  • English : Flower; month of May
  • Latin : Great
  • Hebrew : Bitter; rebellion
  • French : Dark; dark-haired
  • Irish : Bitter
  • English : Month of May
  • Hebrew : Bitter

Last name origin & meaning:

  • 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’.
  • 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’.
  • 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 Ma(i)j.
  • 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.