Gender: Female Pronunciation: MAY Meaning of Mae: "bitter or pearl" Origin of Mae: Diminutive of Mary or Margaret Mae's Popularity in 2019: #548

Mae Origin and Meaning

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

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.

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 one of the prettiest middle name options (Eric Clapton has an Ella Mae, Greg Kinnear an Audrey Mae, Ian Ziering a Penna Mae). 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 Kathryn Hahn's choice of Mae as her daughter's first name.

Mae, a Top 100 name through 1920, 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 sexy. This image continued with Madonna's character in A League of Their Own, known as 'All the way Mae.'

Mae Jemisen was the first African-American woman to travel in space. Currently, 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.

16 names similar to Mae

These 16 names were selected by our users that were looking for other names like Mae. If you didn't find an alternative name that you like better than Mae, try our name generator. It allows you to go beyond the similarities of a name, which can provide a lot of inspiration!

Find other names based on Mae using our baby name generator.


Rank in US: #548

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Famous People Named Mae

Pop Culture References for the name Mae


LilySue Says:


I know a girl named Margaret Mae! Everyone just calls her Mae though

LadyMacbethWho??? Says:


Its the welsh word for 'the'

macarnahan Says:


We named our first born daughter Mae Margaret and nicknamed her "Maisie", which everyone called her. I thought Maisie sounded too sweet and I couldn't see a grown woman with the name, but thought Mae was beautiful and strong!

clairels Says:


It can be a nickname for either.

RoseFlower Says:


Ashton Mae Wilson is what I want to call my little girl! Ashie for a nickname. So beautiful!

bstevens09 Says:


Great name combination

r13martin Says:


My middle name is also Mae as a tribute to my great grandmother!

Maevix Says:


I think it really depends on what first name you choose to go along with it. Mae is a pretty sounding name on its own, so using another pretty (and short) sounding name just won't work. My name is Gabriella Mae and I simply love how it rolls off your tongue. Idk I've always loved my middle name, and since Gabriella can be a pretty strong sounding name I like that adding the Mae gives a softness to it.

Luísa Says:


The graphic accent wasn't there when I wrote my comment (thank you, Nameberry's administrators for revising it). I don't think it's an unwearable spelling for Portuguese speakers, but maybe because I'm used to the japanese name Mai/ Mae.

esita Says:


I 100% agree. To me May/Mae etc is the equivalent of name your daughter "little girl". So generic and cutesy.

esita Says:


The entry is accurate - (it has the tilde to show the nasal sound). As a Portuguese speaker, I would find "Mae" too close in look to Mãe to feel like it's a good spelling for a girl's name.

Luísa Says:


"Mae" IS NOT the Portuguese word for "mother", "Mãe" is and it has a different spelling and a different pronunciation. Same mistake happens on the Nina entry: Nina and Niña have different spellings, because they ARE different words with different meanings and their sounds are not the same. The ~ is not a decoration, it indicates a new sound and consequently, a new word. “Mae” means nothing in Portuguese and btw, native Portuguese speakers would pronounce it as MAH-eh or MAH-ee (and not as May).

EW314 Says:


Apologies in advance for going all-out against the general consensus here, but this is one of my biggest pet peeve names. It's probably THE biggest, in fact!

I don't mind it as a first name, but it's hardly ever used as a first. Generally, it's stuck in the middle as a generic, single-syllable, sweet-sounding "filler" name and just adds absolutely nothing to a combo IMO. I often hear similar complaints about Rose, Grace and Jane, but Mae/May/Mai is the absolute worst offender in my book because it gives such a cutesy, saccharine feel to the name as a whole: Lucy Mae, Ella Mae, Rosalie Mae... I just can't picture grown women with these names, though Lucy, Ella and Rosalie themselves could all age perfectly fine with a different middle.

Even worse is when it's used as a second middle, eg. Rosalie Alice Mae. What is the point of going to the trouble of using two middles if you're going to make one of them such a redundant, generic choice? I understand that Mae has personal significance for some people, and of course I'm not against using it in a combo as an important honour name, but 9 times out of 10 that's not the case and such combos invariably sound better without it.

And last but by no means least, one of my biggest pet peeves is the double-barrelled names with Mae (or Rose, or Grace, but especially Mae) which are sooooo frequently heard over here in the UK: Isla-Mae, Gracie-Mae, Poppy-Mae... they're just so unbelievably cutesy and babyish, I can't see them ageing well at all. I understand that parents want to make their daughters' names feel prettier and more unique by doing this, but it's such a popular trend that I don't feel it has that effect at all. I worked at a pre-school for a while and honestly all the Georgie-Mays, Indie-Maes and Ella-Mais just kind of blended into one in my mind.

Again, apologies for the rant and I'm not trying to offend anyone here, but this just happens to be one name which I have especially strong feelings about. I do understand that many people will disagree with me, and that's great.

isabella Says:


This is the Portuguese word for "mother" (although it is spelled "mãe")

ZPK Says:


Such a sweet name.

indiefendi2 Says:


I knew a girl named Maeton, she said it's Irish but it sounds made up to me. Still an interesting elongation.

ThistleThorn Says:


The -ae makes it looks like it's misspelled to me.

Jbulk21 Says:


Mae is just one of those names that makes me smile. When spelled with a "y", it just makes me think of the month and flowers. But with the "e" the name looks much more interesting, and radiates antique vibes.

Bobcat108 Says:


It's just not for me...all I can think of is Mae West, or one of my great-grandmothers, who was a real battle-axe according to my dad. It also looks very unfinished. It's a pretty sound, though, so if I were to use it it would be as May.

Bobcat108 Says:


If this is a nn for Margaret, then shouldn't the meaning of the name be "pearl"? If the meaning is really "bitter," then it seems that Mae is a nn for Mary instead of Margaret. One of my great-grandmothers went by Mae, but her real name was Mary.

Kim Wall Says:


May makes me think of the month. I like Mae, especially as a middle name.

EvaThyssen Says:


May looks nicer IMO :)

Noey Says:


I've been in love with the name "Mae" for quite sometime! I definitely prefer it with the 'e' spelling over the 'y' spelling. It feels more antique and charming like that. My grandmother's name is "Margaret" and seeing that it's a diminutive of it I think it would make a great way to honor her.

lfonville Says:


Mae Serena and Mae Susannah are two of my faves!

That Creepy Stalker Named Tess Says:


Mae Sophia, Mae Sally, Mae Suzy, Mae Samantha, Mae Sandy, Mae Sonny....

That Creepy Stalker Named Tess Says:


I prefer the name when it is spelled with a 'y' instead of 'e'.

Zoey_Artemisia Says:


If nothing works you could always use Mae as a middle name. Since it's one syllable it flows with almost anything.

Theodora_Phoenix Says:


I'll try, but I'm using favorites of mine so it might be a bit biased.
Mae Samantha, Mae Susanna, Mae Serena, Mae Sandra...

Guest Says:


I have suggestions but they might not flow well. :(

lfonville Says:


I love Mae as a first name, but I'm having trouble coming up with a middle name that flows with it. Suggestions? Preferably with an "S."

Zoey_Artemisia Says:


My middle name is Mae and I really like it. My great grandmothers middle name was May so it was a tribute to her. People in year 8 and under gave me weird looks when I told them, but I'm glad I didn't get a boring middle name. I've met one other girl with the Middle name Mae.

Willa Says:


My middle name is "Mae"......

Alicia1 Says:


The meaning of this name kind of ruins the sweet look and sound of this adorable mn!

ldougie Says:


It's too bad that this name means bitter. Nonetheless, I think this would be a cute middle name.