May Names: Mabel, Mavis & Mae

April 30, 2012 Linda Rosenkrantz

Today being the first day of the merry month of May, why not consider a name that starts with that upbeat, springlike syllable for your baby born this month?  Here are the most likely May baby names suspects.

MABEL –When Bruce Willis, who, with then-wife Demi Moore, was one of the original creative baby namers with older daughters Rumer, Scout and Tallulah, recently named his baby girl Mabel Ray, he brought this vintage Victorian charmer further into the modern world orbit.  It had already been used by Chad Lowe, Nenah Cherry and Dermot Mulroney, as well as for the sitcom baby on Mad About You. Mabel—originally a short form of Amabel—could well join other ascending sassy showgirl names like Ruby and Sadie. Maybelle is rarely heard outside Nashville.

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; Carmela Soprano/Nurse Jackie Edie Falco named her daughter Macy.

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 and Madeline Stowe have daughters named May, while Kathryn Hahn has a little Mae, and several others have used them as middles.

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 536th place.  Two celebs who have chose Maeve are Chris O’Donnell 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 dessert chef Maida Heatter, and Brits would know the London district 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.

MAISONThis is an unusual amalgam coined by musician Rob Thomas for his son in 1998.  Is it a French word name for house or a fancification of Mason? Your call.

MAIZEYou wouldn’t want to call you baby Corn, but you just might consider this other name for the veg. With a sunny yellow image, it also sounds like a short form of Maizie.

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

MAMIEThis name has finally pushed back its 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 lady in Henry James’s The Ambassadors.

MAPLE—This unisex tree name hopscotched over to the female side when the Jason Batemans christened their baby girl Maple Sylvie a couple of months ago. As we’ve pointed out, its similarity to Mable makes it feel more girl, less tree.

MASONMason is a huge hit—now ranked at an amazing Number 12—and who knows? –in a couple of weeks it might be even higher.  Part of this may be due to parents keeping up with the Kardashians’ toddler Mason Disick or  being inspired by the cute vampire Masons on Vampire Diaries and/or The Wizard of Waverly Place. It’s still a solid occupational choice, following in the footsteps of predecessor Jason.

MAVISMavis has something of a British World War II feel, 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 could start to be reevaluated.  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 LenoMavis is also bird-related, as another word for the song thrush.

What’s your favorite Maytime name?

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