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13 Adorable Girl Names for May

Mabel, Maple and Maisie

By Linda Rosenkrantz

It has become a Nameberry tradition to start the merry month of May off with a blog featuring names that start with that upbeat, spring-like syllable. So here is the 2018 edition, with the most current, promising examples of these lovely girl names, all excellent May baby names.

MABEL –Like her cousin Sadie, this sassy vintage charmer is a major celeb fave, used by Chad Lowe, Tracey Ullman, Bruce Willis, Russell Brand, Topher Grace and Dermot Mulroney. Mabel—originally a short form of Amabel and meaning lovable—currently ranks at #513 and 102 on Nameberry, after being a Top 20 name in the 1920s. Cousin Maybelle is rarely heard outside Nashville, Maybelline can be be located in drugstore cosmetic sections.

MACYMacy entered the popularity list in 1990—almost a decade after it had been noticed on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful—and has been well used ever since, a much more modern sounding replacement for the dated Tracy and Stacy, and more solid than the lacy Lacey. Apart from the department store chain, the most noted bearer of the name, singer Macy Gray, was born Natalie McIntyre; actress Edie Falco named her daughter Macy, which now ranks at #490.

MAE & MAYThough they sound like identical twin names, Mae and May—both of which are coming back strong as middle names—give off somewhat different vibes. Mae is a bit sassy, à la Mae West, while May is sweeter and more sentimental and springlike. A few celebs have begun putting these names back in first place—Emily Morton, Molly Sims and Madeline Stowe have daughters named May, while Kathryn Hahn and Laurie Metcalf have Maes, and several others have used them as middles.

MAEBYThe name of an appealing teen character on the cult favorite TV show Arrested Development. The show’s creator Michael Hurwitz has stated that he formed the name by combining those of his daughters Maisy and Phoebe. Another explanation for it is that she maybe George Michael’s cousin. In any case, a few parents have picked up on it.

MAELIENew to the list this year is this charming Breton name pronounced somewhere between Maylee and Miley, and which is related to the male saint name Mael.

MAEVEThis lovely Irish name of a legendary ancient queen packs a lot of power and resonance into its single syllable, which is why more and more American parents with and without Irish roots are starting to embrace it. Maeve entered the US list in 1997, and has now climbed up to 406th place—and may be even higher on the new SSA list. Three celebs who have chose Maeve are Chris O’Donnell, Lili Taylor and Kathryn Erbe.

MAIDAMaida is a name that has been lost to time, possibly because of the ‘maid’ association, but in the World War I era, it had a brief moment of glory and could be found as the heroine in several books for young maidens of the day. The one bearer modern parents might be familiar with is renowned dessert chef Maida Heatter, and there’s also the elegant London neighborhood of Maida Vale.

MAISIEMaisie hasn’t hit the Top 1000, but we see it as a surefire follow-up to its cousin Daisy—less floral, and with more moxie. Maisie started as a short form of Margaret, but has long stood on its own, in life and in literature—as in Henry James’s What Maisie Knew, Kipling’s The Light That Failed, and as a half-blood character in Harry Potter. A children’s book series spells it Maisy, and it’s also seen as Maizie.

MAMEAuntie Mame, the book, play, movie and countless Broadway musical revivals, have given this short form of Mamie a dotty, eccentric feel, but it could make a high-spirited retro middle name choice.

MAMIEThis adorable nickname name has finally pushed back its dated Mamie Eisenhower bangs and is ready to join Maisie as a friendly May update. Meryl Streep’s actress daughter Mamie Gummer was Mary Willa at birth. Other bearers include blues singer Mamie Smith and sexy actress Mamie Van Doren (born Joan). And on the other side of the coin, Mamie Pocock was a most respectable, independent-minded young woman in Henry James’s The Ambassadors. Mamie was a Top 100 name through 1912, staying on the full list until 1966. There was a modern Mamie on Third Rock from the Sun.

MAPLE—This unisex tree name hopscotched over to the female side when the Jason Batemans christened their baby girl the sweet-sounding Maple Sylvie in 2012. And its similarity to Mable makes it feel more girl, less tree. It’s in the 800s on Nameberry.

MAVISMavis has something of a British World War II feel a la Beryl and Doris, but was actually a Top 300 name in the US in the Roaring 20s, and with the renewed interest in names ending in ‘s,’ it has started to be reevaluated, reentering the US Top 1000 in 2016 after a fifty-year absence. Mavis was the name of Charlize Theron’s not very likable character in Young Adult, and it’s associated with singer Mavis Staples, writer Mavis Gallant and feminist Mavis Leno. For avian name lovers: Mavis is also bird-related, as another word for the song thrush.

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12 Responses to “13 Adorable Girl Names for May”

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elifsu Says:

April 30th, 2018 at 11:16 pm

Love Mavis, another “maid” name is Maide – a name from Qur’an and it means dinner table, it is related to Jesus

mill1020 Says:

April 30th, 2018 at 11:39 pm

I’ve always liked Maisie, but lately I’m starting to like Mamie, too. Especially as a nickname for a Mary.

lesliemarion Says:

May 1st, 2018 at 12:43 am

I love most of these names, m names being strongly appealing to me for females. Something soft and strong about many of them.

Mabel, Maeve, Mavis, May, Mamie, Maple, all delicious.

I’m also thrilled to see Maida on the list. I’d love a girl named Madelief and called Maida for short.

Kew Says:

May 1st, 2018 at 7:45 am

Just for the record, Maelie (usually spelt Maëlie in France) is pronounced “mah-elle-ee”, with three syllables. Along with Maëlle and Maëlys, it is exhaustingly popular all over France.

Pam Says:

May 1st, 2018 at 9:42 am

@kew Is the emphasis on the second syllable? Here’s the pronunciation on forvo: https://forvo.com/word/ma%C3%ABlie/#fr

Bobcat108 Says:

May 1st, 2018 at 10:49 am

Maida always makes me think of the Little Maida series of books that I loved as a kid. I also had a great-aunt May, which was a nickname for Margaret, although she had started life as Marguerite (all the female siblings had French names that were Americanized somewhere along the way: Marguerite, Catherine, Genevieve, & Madeleine).

fromtheocean12 Says:

May 1st, 2018 at 2:30 pm

I love May, Maeve and Maisie, and I’ve never heard of Maida and Maeli but I quite like them as well!

LuMary Says:

May 1st, 2018 at 6:50 pm

I like May as a nickname for Margaret. Can also call her Maisie or Maidie and shorten it to May.

I love Louisa May Alcott’s name.

Mayella is a To Kill A Mockingbird character.

alpharelic Says:

May 2nd, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Do Matilda and Maya count?? Both amazing names!

linda Says:

May 2nd, 2018 at 5:47 pm

@alpharelic They are amazing, but I was limiting this to names with the first syllable pronounced may.

LuMary Says:

May 3rd, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Mayson – for a girl, not a boy, in my opinion. The ‘y’ feminizes it in this case.

Maybella sounds less regional than Maybelle.

zoemaks Says:

May 3rd, 2018 at 7:03 pm

My dog’s name is Mabry!!! Her nicknames are May or Mabs 🙂

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