Diminutive of Mary or Margaret
"bitter or pearl"

Mae Origin and Meaning

The name Mae is a girl's name of English origin meaning "bitter or pearl".

Mae, a sweet and springlike old-fashioned name, hadn't been on the national charts in forty years, but finally made it back in 2010. Mae is derived from May, the month name that was chosen for its connection to Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and motherhood.

Mae can be used as a nickname for the names Mary and Margaret — actress Mae West was born Mary. Alternate spellings include May, Mei, and Maye. The May spelling makes it more of a month name, while Mae makes it an antique nickname name. Both can stand on their own, as seen by Hilary Duff's choice of Mae as her daughter's first name.

Mae along with twin sister May is now one of the prettiest and most popular middle name options for girls (Eric Clapton has an Ella Mae, Greg Kinnear an Audrey Mae, Ian Ziering a Penna Mae).

A Top 100 name through 1920, Mae was big in early film history — there were leading actresses named Mae Clarke, Mae Marsh, Mae Busch, and Mae Murray. Towering over them (figuratively) was Mae West, who changed the name from sweet to sophisticated. Madonna also played a character called Mae in the 1992 movie A League of Their Own.

Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to travel in space. Mae Whitman is a rising young actress seen recently on Parenthood and Arrested Development.

It may be worth noting that Mãe is the Portuguese word for mother, so if you've got Brazilian or Portuguese relatives, it's probably best to stick to May or Mei.

# 506 in the US

Mae Rank in US Top 1000

# 12 on Nameberry

Mae Rank in Nameberry Top 1000

Mae Popularity

Famous People Named Mae

  • Mary Jane "Mae" WestAmerican actress
  • Mae Carol Jemisonfirst African,American woman astronaut
  • Mae Clarke (born Violet Mary Klotz)American actress
  • Mae QuestelAmerican actress, voice of cartoon character Betty Boop
  • Mae Margaret WhitmanAmerican actress
  • (Johnnie) Mae YoungAmerican professional wrestler
  • Mae Mei LapresCanadian model
  • Anna Mae Bullockbirth name of American singer Tina Turner
  • (Annie) Mae BuschAustralian actress
  • Mae Murray (born Marie Adrienne Koenig)American actress
  • Mary Wayne "Mae" MarshAmerican actress
  • Mae MooreCanadian singer,songwriter
  • VanessaMae Vanakorn Nicholson, British violinist
  • Kealia Mae Ohai WattAmerican soccer player
  • Mae Akins Roth (b. 2005)daughter of actors Matt Roth and Laurie Metcalf
  • Mae Sandler (b. 2007)daughter of actors Kathryn Hahn and Ethan Sandler
  • Mae Madeleine Wellesley (b. 2010)daughter of Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Douro and model Jemma Kidd
  • Mae Elizabeth Waterman (b. 2010)daughter of reality TV personality Jen Schefft ("The Bachelorette") and Joe Waterman
  • Mae Webb (b. 2014)daughter of actress Kate Ritchie and Stuart Webb

Mae in Pop Culture

  • Mae Mobleycharacter in Kathryn Stockett's "The Help"
  • Mae Braddockcharacter in movie "Cinderella Man"
  • Mae "Maeby" Funkecharacter on TV's "Arrested Development"
  • Mae Caldwellcharacter in movie "Secondhand Lions"
  • Maecharacter in "Where'd You Go, Bernadette"
  • Mae Loxleycharacter in Mr. Selfridge
  • Lula Mae BarnesHolly Golightly's real name in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
  • Maeminor character in the video game "Gravity Rush"
  • Mae Shermansister of Nikki Sherman in the Main Street books by Anne M Martin
  • Mae (Margaret) Borowskimain character in the video game "Night In The Woods"
  • Mae Nassera character in the Ziva Payvan series written by EJ Fisch
  • MaeAmerican rock band

Mae in Nameberry Blog Posts