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Maeve Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Maeve Overview

  • Meaning: Maeve means “she who intoxicates” or “she who rules” in Old Irish.
  • Gender: Maeve is a traditionally feminine name that is also accepted as unisex.
  • Origin: Maeve originates from Medb, a mythological Irish queen/goddess. The name is also rooted from the Proto Celtic root “medu-,” meaning “mead.” In Medieval Irish inaugurations, the “mead woman” was revered for bringing joy and intoxication.
  • Pronunciation: Maeve is pronounced, “MAYV.”
  • Popularity: The name Maeve is very popular in the UK, especially Ireland. Maeve only recently became popular in the United States.
  • Nicknames: Mae, May, Maevey, Vi, Eve, Mayo, Maeby, Mae-Mae
  • Variations: Maev, Maiv, Mave, Meabh, Mavie, Maiev, Mayve, Maeva, Maiev, Mava.
  • Namesakes: Maeve Kennedy McKean, Maeve Binchy, Maeve Wiley, Maeve Sherlock, Maeve Tomalty, Maeve Hillery.

Maeve is a traditionally feminine name with Irish origins that has become increasingly popular for newborns in recent years. With a rich history and some prominent namesakes, Maeve is a great choice for expecting parents.

What Does Maeve Mean?

The name Maeve has Irish roots and most prominently means “she who intoxicates” and “mead-woman.” The name is also interpreted to mean “she who rules” and “the cause of great joy.”

What is the Origin of the Name Maeve?

Maeve derives from the Old Irish name Medb, the mythological Queen of Connacht believed to be a sovereignty goddess. In Middle Irish, the name Medb evolved into Meḋḃ or Meaḋḃ. By the 15th century, it was transmuted into the name Méabh / Meadhbh (1).

The name Maeve may also have Proto-Celtic origins from the word-root “medu-,” which translates to “mead”. In medieval Ireland, drinking mead was an important aspect of inauguration ceremonies. Because of this, a name translating to “mead-woman” was highly revered.

How Popular is the Name Maeve?

In the United States, the name Maeve has become increasingly popular in recent years. In 2020, Maeve finally found its way on the Social Security Administration’s Top 200 baby names, ranking 173 (2).

According to data from Google Trends, roughly 30 newborns are named Maeve every month in the United States, with some notable exceptions. Over the past five years, there have been four prominent boosts in the name’s popularity.

Maeve saw three small popularity spikes in January 2019, January 2020, and September 2021. This may be credited to the hit Netflix series Sex Education, which featured a main character named Maeve Wiley and released its first three seasons during those exact dates.

Maeve’s largest spike came in April 2020, following the death of Maeve Kennedy McKean, a human rights attorney, public health official, and great-niece of President John F. Kennedy. Over 200 American newborns were named Maeve within three weeks.

Though it’s rising in popularity in the US, Maeve has been a very popular baby name for a long time in the UK. Maeve has regularly ranked in Ireland’s Top 100 girls’ names for the past 50+ years. In 2021, Maeve was the 94th most popular girl’s name in England and Wales (3).

How Do I Pronounce Maeve?

Maeve is pronounced, “MAYV,” rhyming with brave.

Is Maeve a Boy or Girl Name?

The name Maeve is traditionally feminine, though it is technically unisex. Maeve is a very rare boy’s name, so rare that no data is available regarding its popularity over the years. Despite its extreme rarity, Maeve is still a perfectly acceptable boy or non-binary name.

Variations of Maeve

“Maeve” is not the only way this old Irish girl’s name is spelled today. Variations of Maeve include:

  • Maev (Irish)
  • Maeva (Polynesian, Hawaiian)
  • Maiev (Irish)
  • Maiv (English)
  • Maive (Irish)
  • Maivee (English)
  • Maiven (English)
  • Maivy (Vietnamese)
  • Majvie (Swedish)
  • Mava (Hebrew)
  • Mave (Irish)
  • Mavi (Turkish)
  • Mavie (Celtic)
  • Mayve (English)
  • Mayvie (English)
  • Meabh (Irish)

Nicknames for Maeve

Nicknames are great ways to communicate and show your newborn love. Fortunately, Maeve comes with a variety of fun nicknames:

  • Eve
  • Evie
  • Mae
  • Mae-Mae
  • Maevey
  • May
  • Mayo
  • Maeby
  • Vi
  • Vivi

Similar Names to Maeve

Maeve is an incredibly unique name, but it also shares similarities to other names in its origin, meaning, and pronunciation:

Middle Names for Maeve

Though you may already have a sentimental middle name in mind, there’s nothing wrong with trying out middle names that sound good with the first name. Here are middle names that may work great for newborns named Maeve:

Sibling Names for Maeve

Parents with more than one kid often give their children similar names, or at least names that go well together. Here are several baby names that Maeve is sure to get along with:

Famous People Named Maeve

Seeing as it’s an increasingly popular name, a variety of Maeve’s have risen to fame across the years. Below are some of the most famous Maeve’s from the last 50 years:

  • Maeve Binchy: Irish novelist, playwright, and columnist, best known for her book Circle of Friends.
  • Maeve Hillery: Irish doctor, widow of late Irish President Patrick Hillery.
  • Maeve Higgins: Irish actress, writer, and comedian.
  • Maeve Kennedy McKean: American attorney, public health official, great-niece of John F. Kennedy.
  • Maeve Quinlan: American tennis player and actress.
  • Maeve Sherlock: English Baroness and member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom.
  • Maeve Tomalty: Canadian-American actress best known for the Nickelodeon series Henry Danger.

Maeve in Popular Culture

Maeve has also been a notable name in popular culture. Some fictional uses of the name Maeve have even inspired parents to give the name to their own kids.

  • Maeve: Fae Queen in young adult book series Throne of Glass.
  • Maeve Donovan: Recurring character in CBS TV series Criminal Minds.
  • Maeve Millay: Town host from HBO TV series Westworld.
  • Maeve Wiley: High-school character from Netflix TV series Sex Education.
  • Queen Maeve: Wonder Woman-inspired superhero in TV and graphic novel series The Boys.

Maeve FAQs

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the name Maeve.

Is Maeve a Royal Name?

Maeve is a royal name, originally deriving from the mythological Irish queen/goddess Medb. The name Maeve is often translated as “she who rules” and was held with significance during the inaugurations of kings.

Is Maeve a Girl’s Name?

Maeve is a traditionally feminine name, primarily only given to girls. However, the name is unisex and is acceptable for all genders.

Is Maeve Becoming a Popular Name?

Yes, Maeve is becoming more and more popular. In the 1990s, Maeve barely made it into the US’s Top 1000 baby names. By 2020, Maeve had risen to the Top 200.

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