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Mae Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Mae including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Mae Overview

  • Meaning: Mae is an English name that means “the month of May.” The name can thus signify rebirth. In Portugal, the name Mae also means “mother.”
  • Gender: Mae is most commonly given to infant girls, which is the case for 99% of the babies given the name.
  • Origin: The name Mae originated in ancient Rome, and was taken from a fertility goddess named Maia. From there it was adopted by Anglo-Saxon languages and became a common English name.
  • Pronunciation: Mae is most commonly pronounced as “MAY.”
  • Popularity: Mae is fairly popular in the United States. It was the 505th most selected name for newborn girls in 2021.
  • Nicknames: Em, Emm, Macy, Masie, May Day.
  • Variations: Mãe, Maeve, Maia, Mary, May, Maya, Maye, Mei.
  • Namesakes: Mae Jemison (American NASA astronaut), Mae West (American actress and vaudeville entertainer), and Mae Whitman (American actress).

What Does the Name Mae Mean?

Mae is an English name that means “the month of May.” It insinuates a time of rebirth, as flowers and trees are blooming in time for summer. The month of May was created in honor of the Roman goddess Maia.

In Portugal, Mae means “mother.” It may also be a shortened or endeared form of names such as Mary or Margaret (1).

What Is the Origin of the Name Mae?

The name Mae traces its roots to the deity Maia. She had prominent associations with fertility in the Roman pantheon. In Greek mythology, she was the mother of Hermes and one of the seven Pleiades, daughters of Atlas (2).

Mae was later adopted by Anglo-Saxon cultures. In turn, it became an English name.

How Popular Is the Name Mae?

Mae is popular in the United States but the name has been traditionally most associated with the spelling ”May.” The Mae variant only broke into the top 1000 in 2010.

Since then, it has been steadily rising in popularity. It reached the rank of 505th for newborn girls in 2021 (3).

How Do I Pronounce Mae?

Mae is commonly pronounced “MAY,” just like the month. It is rarely mispronounced, such as “my-AH” or “May-A.”

Is Mae a Boy or Girl Name?

Mae is a feminine name and is almost entirely unknown as an option for baby boys.

Variations of Mae

Given its long history, there is no surprise that there are many regional variations on the name. Examples include:

  • Mãe (Portuguese)
  • Maeve (Irish)
  • Maia (Roman)
  • Mary (Hebrew)
  • May (English)
  • Maya (Arabic)
  • Maye (English)
  • Mei (Chinese)

Nicknames for Mae

Mae is a short name. However, that doesn’t mean nicknames are an impossibility. Among the cute nicknames for Mae are:

  • Em
  • Emm
  • Macy
  • Masie
  • May Day

Similar Names to Mae

When considering an alternative name, you could consider options that have a similar meaning, start with the same letter, or go for something entirely different. A few great options include:

Middle Names for Mae

Mae has been in use for many decades and can be complemented by classics and relatively “new” choices:

Sibling Names for Mae

Reflecting its long and extensive use, there are endless names that go well alongside Mae for a sibling of any gender. Some options include:

For a brother:

For a sister:

Famous People Named Mae

Many famous actresses, politicians, musicians, and athletes have been named Mae. The prominent among them are:

  • Mae Brussell: American radio show host.
  • Mae Busch: Australian actress who appeared in numerous silent and talkie films.
  • Mae Jemison: American NASA astronaut and the first African-American to travel to space.
  • Mae Martin: Canadian actor and comedian.
  • Mae Moore: Canadian singer-songwriter best known for her 1992 album titled Bohemia.
  • Mae Muller: English singer-songwriter best known for her debut album, Chapter 1.
  • Mae Questel: American actress who voiced the animated characters Olive Oyl and Betty Boop.
  • Mae West: An American actress from the early 20th Century. She was also a singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol in the Depression-era.
  • Mae Whitman: American actress is known for her roles in “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” “Arrested Development,” and “Good Girls.”

Mae in Popular Culture

The name Mae has yet to see widespread use in popular culture. There are only a few standout instances of the name appearing in mass media, mostly with the spelling “May.” Some examples include:

  • Aunt May: Character from Marvel comics, films, and television. She is Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s aunt.
  • Princess Mae of Athens: Character in the Disney animated series “Sofia the First.”
  • Mae: Elmo’s mother in the children’s television program “Sesame Street.”
  • May: A significant character in Chaucer’s “The Merchant’s Tale.”
  • May: A character from the “Pokémon” franchise of games and cartoon shows.
  • May Kasahara: A character in the novel “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami.

Mae FAQs

If there are any gaps about the name Mae that we haven’t covered yet, they may be answered in this section. Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions asked about the name Mae.

What Is the Biblical Meaning of the Name May?

In the Hebrew Bible, the name May referred to a “wished-for child,” “a rebel,” or something “bitter.”

Is May the Same Name in Chinese (Mei)?

The short answer is no. “Mei” is from a Mandarin background and does not share an origin with the English name. In Chinese, including Mandarin and Cantonese (as well as in Hong Kong dialects), it can mean “gorgeous” or “plum” (4).

What Does May As the Last Name Mean?

As a surname, it is similar in origin and has the same meaning. Despite that, it also has English and Gaelic ties. It can be found in the USA, the UK, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and many other countries.

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