Merry May Names for Girls
The merry month of May has arrived and you just might be shopping for a name for your May baby girl. How about choosing a baby name that incorporates the pretty sound of the month of May itself? One way would be to take the vintage smoosh route, with something like Annamae or Ellamae or Maybeth, but we think–Ismay being one charming exception)– a more straightforward choice would be better. Here, an overview of May baby names for girls.
May and Mae—Yes, they sound identical, and share a sweet faded yet fresh flowery feel, but there are some slight—almost indefinable—differences in tone. May 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 classic American lit 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, Molly Sims and Jodie Sweetin used it in middle place for theirs. May ranked as high on the list as Number 57 in the 1880s; it’s now 228 on Nameberry.
Mae has beaten May back onto the popularity list—it’s now at Number 589—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 its most famous namesake by far is the sultry Mae West—who was born Mary Jane—and who added some definite sass to this version. Mae is making a considerable comeback as a middle, used as such by Greg Kinnear, Samantha Brown and Ian Ziering, though it has also been used as a first by actors Laurie Metcalf and Kathryn Hahn.
Mabel—Mabel 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 at the turn of the last century. But Mabel has definitely been making a comeback, now at #578 and 85 on Nameberry. Modern Mabel dads: Russell Brand, Bruce Willis, Chad Lowe and Dermot Mulroney. Variant spelling Maybelle is strictly country, Maybelline a bit too cosmetic.
Macy—Singer Macy Gray (born Natalie) popularized this upbeat, onetime strictly department store-related surname choice to the point where it now ranks Number 413 on the chart. First noticed on a soap opera, it entered the list in 1990. Actress Edie Falco chose it for her daughter.
Maeve—This lovely name of an ancient Irish queen is gaining more and more U.S. attention among parents both with and without Irish roots. It now ranks at #450, 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 has a daughter named Maeve.
Maida—A relic of the era when young women were still referred to as maids and maidens, Maida was last heard in reference to 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, Maisy— Maisie 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 in a popular 1940’s movie series, and as a picture-book mouse spelled Maisy. Along with other old nickname names, Maisie returned to the pop chart in 2014, is now at #624 nationally, 33 in Scotland, and 54 on Nameberry!
Mamie—A 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 seems ready to take her place among the other revived vintage nns. Meryl Streep’s actress daughter Mamie Gummer was Mary Willa at birth.
Mavis—Mavis, 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.
What’s your favorite May-sounding name?
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on May 1st, 2013 at 12:08 am
Macon is also a character in Beautiful Creatures 🙂
on May 1st, 2013 at 12:12 am
I think Mae is such a sweet name. My worry is that it’s not enough name, if you know what I mean! Also, I really love Mabel, but have been told by my mother that I can’t choose this name because it’s my aunt’s late mother’s name and she was a horrible person! But, really, that’s not going to stop me! I think Mabel is a lovely name. Maple is super cute, too.
on May 1st, 2013 at 2:06 am
I love Mae and Maeve!
on May 1st, 2013 at 4:21 am
Don’t forget Mace Windu, the Jedi Master played by Samuel L. Jackson in the Star Wars series.
I’m a sucker for Annamae, just plain Mae, and Maisie as a nickname for Margaret.
on May 1st, 2013 at 4:24 am
I have a daughter called May who’s nickname is Maisie. We tossed around the two spellings of May but went with the more traditional. I found through looking at name statistics that Mae was more popular in America around the early nineteenth century whereas in Australia and the UK May was always the more popular spelling.
on May 1st, 2013 at 5:39 am
I love Macy! But I prefer the spelling Macey.
on May 1st, 2013 at 6:19 am
My daughter’s name is Maeby 🙂 I love that she probably won’t ever meet someone with the same name as her.
on May 1st, 2013 at 6:31 am
Maybelle is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine! I’m usually not a fan of a smoosh, but Maybelle is so pretty and happy…and, yes, country but i love that!
on May 1st, 2013 at 8:46 am
I had a lot of these on my list: Mae, Maeve, Maisie. My husband wasn’t as keen, but I do still like them. Maple is lovely too.
on May 1st, 2013 at 8:51 am
I love May, Mabel, Maida and Mamie.
on May 1st, 2013 at 9:01 am
I’ve always loved the names May and Mary! Mary-Jane is adorable too! If I could honestly name my first daughter Mina I would. When I was a baby I called my Aunt Michelle, Mina (with a short i sound). I think it is sooo cute!
on May 1st, 2013 at 10:12 am
I adore Mae(and May although I prefer May)as it’s just so sweet and vintage. It’s also a little too short for me, but I adore it nonetheless. I also love Maeve and Maisie!
on May 1st, 2013 at 2:08 pm
I love the name Mabel, just last week I was walking out of a cafe pushing my daughter and literally walked into man and his little girl and he said come along Mabel and I swooned a little at such an adorable name. On a programme quite a few years back (Mad about you?) they named the baby Mabel and they said it stood for mothers always bring extra love x
on May 1st, 2013 at 2:13 pm
I’m glad we’re celebrating the arrival of May, sunshine, heat and ice-cream to follow. Escaping the bitter British winter for a while hooray!!
I’m loving; May, Mabel, Maeve, Maida, Maisie, and Mason I also like Mace but I also feel like others above Mace isn’t ‘enough’ but he’s a cool nickname for Mason.
on May 1st, 2013 at 3:38 pm
Maple is lovely, fitting into that Mabel sound category but with a more modern flair, and without sounding as unusual as other nature names like, say, Apple.
Maeve is beautiful, but the Irish accent on it is still so strong for me that I’d probably only consider it if I married someone of Irish descent.
Margaret is on my list of potential baby names, and Maisie/Maisy is possible my favorite of its many nicknames. Mamie’s cute as well.
It’s hard for me to get past the department store connotation for Macy, but it’s nice I suppose; however the Maci spelling seems to have overtaken it (apparently that’s the spelling for one of the mothers on Teen Mom, so I don’t know if that’s what has helped it out), which I don’t like as much.
on May 1st, 2013 at 6:09 pm
My first thought on seeing the name Maida was Maida Vale, which is an area of London. I somehow can’t picture that name on a child.
on May 2nd, 2013 at 1:43 am
I really like the name Maisie, and my husband LOVES it but I feel like its more of a nickname. And I’m not a fan of using Margaret.
I also love Mabel!!
on May 2nd, 2013 at 12:13 pm
My favorite may name is Ismay. I also like Mae/May and it’s kind of impossible not to like Maisie.
on May 3rd, 2013 at 12:07 am
Yay for Mae!
My name is Maeghan and I regularly get called Mae. My name is pronounced ‘Mae’ as in the month of May, not the American slightly ‘drawl-ier’ way, nor is it Megan (aussie Mee-gan).
I love a lot of ‘Mae’ names, but I am never sure if I can use them because they would be so close to my name?!
on May 5th, 2013 at 5:39 pm
What about Esme and Salome?
on July 20th, 2013 at 11:29 am
I love the name Maisie for Margaret and is probably the only real reason I’d consider using it, as it turns out my latest connection to Margaret isn’t one I’d want to celebrate. But the possible Maisie nickname for it just make me forget all about that!
I don’t think I could ever use Maize, unless it was a nickname for the already-used-as-a-nickname Maisie. Corn in Spanish is spelled too similarly to it.
When the Buchmann’s first used Mabel on Mad About You, they got funny looks from everyone. Now, it’s a name that is quickly gaining popularity. I admit when I first heard their name choice, as a very young child, I thought it was weird too, but it’s grown on me.
I adore the name Mae, more so than the more traditional month spelling May, which will always be calendar related to me, whereas the spelling Mae is an actual name. Mae is actually the newest -ay sounding name to my list… It joined Janae, Bay, Faye, Kay and Rey.
on May 1st, 2017 at 11:27 pm
I like Maisie and May. And I know a two-year-old named Maci May (first + middle).
on May 2nd, 2017 at 3:09 am
I love Maple and Mabel, though they sound pretty much the same in my accent. I also love Maisie, Mavis and Maeve.
on May 2nd, 2017 at 4:04 am
Maeve and Mae are my favourites. I have a soft spot for Anna May after the Downton character, but the first thing I thought was it sounds like anime haha.
on May 2nd, 2017 at 4:30 am
May, Mavis and Mabel are my favourites. I do prefer Amabel to Mabel, though.
on May 2nd, 2017 at 9:12 am
Maisie and Maeve are my faves…love them both. Also really like Mae and Mabel.
on May 2nd, 2017 at 10:00 am
I like May (May was my Nonni’s middle name), Maisie, Ismay, and Maeve.
on May 2nd, 2017 at 12:11 pm
I read a bunch of the Little Maida books as a child, so I do like that name (although I prefer the names of some of the other characters). Other than that I’m not fond of any of these names…Maia or Maya (pronounced like the month + uh) would be the only ones I’d consider using.
on May 2nd, 2017 at 4:16 pm
I also think Mabry is cute. It’s a surname-name pronounced May-Bree.
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