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Merry Month of May Baby Names

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Are you looking for a name for your May baby?  How about the idea of  choosing one that incorporates the pretty sound of the month into her –or his– name?  One way would be to take the vintage smoosh route, with something like Annamae or Ellamae or Maybeth, but we think an unembellished choice would be better.

May and MaeYes, they sound identical, and share a sweet faded yet fresh flowery feel, but there are some slight—almost indefinable—differences in tone aMay started as one of the innumerable pet forms of Mary and Margaret, as well as a springtime month name along with April and June.   She’s represented in literature by May Bartram in Henry James’s The Beast in the Jungle and May Welland in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.  Actresses Emily Morton and Madeline Stowe named their daughters May, and Eric Clapton and Jodie Sweetin used it in middle place for theirs.

Mae has beaten May back onto the popularity list—it’s now at Number 803—but still has a way to go before it reaches the Top 100, a place it held through 1920.  It was attached to some of the leading ladies of the silent screen era—Maes Clarke, Marsh, Busch and Murray—but it’s most famous namesake by far is the sultry Mae West—who was born Mary Jane—and who added some definite syncopated sass to this version.  Mae is making more of a comeback as a middle, used as such by Greg Kinnear, Samantha Brown and Ian Ziering.

MabelMabel has the cheeky charm of a whole group of old-style wisecracking waitress names. She originated as a shortened version of Amabel, which is French for lovable, losing her initial A along the way and becoming a Victorian favorite, especially popular in this country from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Cute lost nicknames are Mab and Mabs.  Recent Mabel dads: Bruce Willis, Chad Lowe and Dermot Mulroney.  Variant spelling Maybelle is strictly country, Maybelline a bit too cosmetic.

MacySinger Macy Gray (born Natalie) popularized this upbeat onetime strictly department store-related surname choice to the point where it now ranks Number 295 on the chart.  First noticed on a soap opera, it entered the list in 1990. Nurse Jackie’s Edie Falco chose it for her daughter.

MaeveThis short but strong name of an ancient Irish queen is gaining more and more U.S. attention, among parents both with and without Irish roots.  It now stands just outside the Top 500, appreciated for the unusual amount of charm, richness and resonance it has for a single-syllable name.  Irish novelist Maeve Binchy was an inspirational literary namesake; Chris O’Donnell and Kathryn Erbe are both parents of Maeves.

MaidaA relic of the era when young women were still referred to as maids or maidens, Maida was last heard in reference to the eminent pastry chef Maida Heatter.  Maida danced around the lower edges of the popularity list at the turn of the last century and into the teens, when it was also a favorite in children’s books for girls.

Maisie, Maizie, MaisyMaisie in all its forms is one of the most irresistible of names, a Scottish variant of the Gaelic form of Margaret.  She’s had an interesting and varied history—as a character in works by Rudyard Kipling, Henry James and J.K.Rowling, as the brassy leading lady of a popular 1940’s movie series, and as a picture-book mouse spelled Maisy. With the imminent release of a major motion picture version of Henry James’s What Maisie Knew, Maisie might just join floral cousin Daisy on the popularity list.

Maize –A sunshiny color name, which is, for better or worse, redolent of corn, and that also sounds like a pet name for Maizie.

MameHard to think of this without the word Auntie in front of it, but Mame could make a cute retro show-stopping middle name choice.

MamieA top 100 name in the US until 1912—as high as Number 53 in 1888—Mamie was long stuck in the dated image of First Lady Eisenhower’s trademark short bangs, but now might be ready to take her place among the other revived vintage nicknames.  Most of the noted bearers of the name weren’t born with it—sexy actress Mamie Van Doren was originally Joan and Meryl Streep’s actress daughter was Mary Willa at birth.

MapleOne of the newest and more striking possibilities, used by the Jason Batemans for their daughter Maple Sylvie, establishing it as more feminine, less arboreal.

MavisMavis, despite its trace of a British accent, was a Flapper Era favorite in the US, and could conceivably make a comeback, along with such other s-ending names as Iris, Agnes and Frances. Namesakes include singer Mavis Staples, Canadian writer Mavis Gallant and activist Mavis Leno.

There are only a couple of boys’ names that fit into this category:

MasonMason is without a doubt the great success story on this list, now the second most popular boys’ name in the country, and very close to being Number 1, propelled by its reality show familiarity, its likeable sound and honest, workmanlike meaning.  Mega-popular without sounding trendy, most people don’t realize that there were more than 20,000 Masons born last year.

MaconParents who don’t want their sons to be one of those 20,000+ could consider this much less familiar but equally attractive Georgia-accented place name.  Macon is a character in Beautiful Creatures and has played major roles in two novels, Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, in the latter as both a Macon Sr. and Jr.

MaceThe short form commonly heard by those who Keep Up with the Kardashians, Mace is perfectly capable of standing on its own.  It’s also a spice name—but with some less than pleasant associations.

What’s your favorite May-sounding name?

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