Rare May names range from the vintage to the modern, smooshes to inventions. But they all contain the bright, vibrant, and spring-like sound of May.
We love Mae, of course, so spare and lovely. The ‘e’ spelling appears in the current US Top 1000, while the ‘y’ does not. But the sound is everywhere? Nameberry compiled a list of names that start with the sound a few years ago. And British Baby Names rounded up all of the saints and symbols associated with the month.
If you love Macy or Mabel, but want something that includes the sound, but feels far less expected, these rare May names are for you.
Rare May Names: The Smooshes
Annamae – It could be the name of Dorothy Gale’s BFF out in Kansas, a name both vintage and adventurous. Just 33 girls were given the name in 2016.
Bellamae – If you like the surname-style Bellamy, but prefer something more clearly in given name territory, Bellamae might appeal.
Ellamae – This feels like an inevitable mash-up of two popular short names, but just 53 girls were named Ellamae in 2016.
Lilymae – If April showers bring May flowers, then maybe Lilymae is a logical blend.
Lulamae – In Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, we eventually learned that the glamorous Holly Golightly was born the rather ordinary Lula Mae Barnes. I keep waiting for Lula to catch on, so why not Lulamae?
Maybelle – This looks like an elaboration of Mabel, but seems designed for a different sound: may belle rather than MAY bul. Maebelle is another possibility.
Rosamae – There’s Rosalie and Rosalind, Rosemary and Roseanna. Why not Rosamae? Rose names are plentiful, and this one feels both vintage and vibrant.
Saramae – There’s something lovely about this sound, combining the sweet simplicity of Sarah and Mae.
Rare May Names: Modern Maes
Esmae – Esme continues to climb the charts. Phonetic spelling Esmae is climbing, too, with 81 girls receiving the name in 2016, plus 29 Ezmaes.
Mabry – Mabry, Maebry, and Maybree seem like the most logical spellings, a mix of traditional Mae and breezy Bree. Surname Mabry may have come from the place name Maybury, or perhaps it’s from the French Montbrai – muddy hill. Regardless of origins, the sound of this name seems likely to appeal.
Maeby – This name wouldn’t make the list at all, except a few dozen girls were named after the Arrested Development character – and it certainly fits with rare May names. Series creator Mitchell Hurwitz arrived at the rebellious teenage character’s name by blending his daughters’ names: Maisy and Phoebe. While she was nearly always called Maeby, her given name was just Mae.
Maelynn – You’ll meet Gracelynns and Avalynns, so why not Maelynn? The challenge, of course, is spelling – Maylynn, Maelyn, and more possibilities abound.
Maisie – Maisie evolved a Scottish short form of Margaret, but it carries the Mae sound. You might respell it Maysie or Mayzie, but I like it best this way. It’s a fast-rising favorite of recent years.
Maybelline – A handful of girls have been named Maybelline dating back to the 1920s, including 21 in 2016. That’s almost certainly thanks to the cosmetics company, founded in 1915, and named for the founder’s sister, Mabel, inspired the company. Chuck Berry recorded “Maybellene” in 1955; some releases of the single misspelled it with an -ine. Berry’s song was based on an older one called “Ida Red.” It evolved into “Ida May” and then the current form, but exactly why is unclear.
Maylee – We love Kaylee and Hailee and all of these names made from stylish sounds. Maylee seems to have a longer history of use than some rare May names, and debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2016.
Maysilee – The Hunger Games gave us dozens of spectacular names, including Katniss and Primrose and Finnick and Rue … and Maysilee. She’s a minor character, but a critical one. Maysilee’s niece, Madge, gives Katniss her famous mockingjay pin. It’s basically unused as a given name in the US, but fits with so many other choices on this list.
Rare May Names: Imports
Maëlle – It’s a name familiar to French speakers, but seldom heard in the US. Maelle comes from the masculine Mael, the name of a fifth century saint. The name itself comes from a Celtic word meaning prince. The pronunciation – Mae-elle – could work nicely in English, though the French is a little different, more like a drawn-out my-elle. The spelling, though, might prove vexing.
Maëlys – Cousin to Maelle, or possibly to another name on this list, Maylis.
Maeva – It sounds like an elaboration of the Irish Maeve, and maybe that’s sometimes true. But Maeva is also a Tahitian name meaning welcome, popular in French and accessible in English.
Mai – It means plum in Vietnamese and dance in Japanese, but perhaps it most feels like a culture-spanning choice that works across several languages, including English.
Maialen – I found this one on a list of Basque names; there’s a well-known Basque poet by the name. It comes from the classic Magdalene and Madeline.
Maylis – The name of a French village, Maylis might also come from the name Marie and lys, the French word for lily.
What do you think of rare May names? Would you consider any of these names? What have I missed?
Originally published on May 4, 2012, this post was revised substantially and re-published on May 1, 2018.