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Surname May - Meaning and Origin

all surnames with 'M'

May: What does the surname May mean?

The surname May is of English and German origin and has several possible meanings. In English, the surname could be derived from the given name 'May', a pet form of Margaret or Matthew, or have originated from a nickname for someone born in the month of May. In Middle English and Old French, "may" also means "young man" or "lad", so the surname could have referred to a young man.

In German context, May derives from the Middle High German word "meie" or "maige", meaning a relative or kinsman. Hence, it might have been originally given to someone who was related to a prominent figure within the community.

Like many surnames, its exact origins and meanings can be difficult to trace back due to the evolving use of language and culture over centuries. Depending on the historical and regional context, the surname May could hold different interpretations and implications for different families.

May: Where does the name May come from?

The surname May originates from both English and Germanic origins. In English context, it is derived from the month of May and traditionally given to children born in that month. In German-speaking regions, May is a variant of "Meier", a status name for a steward, bailiff, or middleman.

The name could also bear a relation to the name Matthew in some Jewish communities. It also has roots in French, Swedish, Danish, and Dutch cultures.

In the present day, the surname May is commonly found in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany. In England, it's quite prevalent in the southern regions, specifically Hampshire and Cornwall. According to Forebears, "May" is the 784th most common surname in the world and is most prevalent in the United States.

Variations of the surname May

The surname May has several variations and spellings that have been influenced by different cultures, languages, and regions. This surname is commonly dispersed among many English, German, Dutch and even Jewish communities. Variants of May include Mae, Maye, Mai, Mays, Mea, and Meay. It may also appear as a part of a hyphenated surname or in combination with other words such as May-Smith, Mayfield, or Mayberry.

In German-speaking regions, it can be found as Mai, Maier, Mayer, and Meyer, which are derived from the Middle High German "meiger", meaning "higher or superior".

Among Dutch, it could be found as Meij, Mey, or De May. For Jewish (Ashkenazic), you might discover it as Maj or Meij, which can be either a variant of the personal name Meir or a nickname from the Yiddish male personal name Majer (from Hebrew Meir 'enlightening').

However, please note that the distribution of the surname May and its variants can be culturally and regionally specific, thus, it can be essentially different in meaning and transliteration.

Famous people with the name May

  • Robert May: English poet, most renowned for writing the poem "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
  • Mike May: Professional wheelchair athlete, winner of several Paralympic silver medals
  • Reggie May: Professional rapper
  • Bill May: Professional synchronized swimmer, winner of three world championship gold medals
  • Jennifer May: Fashion designer and winner of Project Runway season 11
  • Ora May: Former teen actress, known for her role in the film The Blind Side
  • Jimmy May: Actor, best known for his role as Wally in the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris
  • Jeff May: Professional baseball player and assistant GM of the San Diego Padres
  • Mark May: Professional football player, Hall of Fame member
  • Pat May: Gospel singer and musician

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