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.
Of course, names inspired by the month of May don’t have to include the sound. British Baby Names rounded up all of the saints and symbols associated with the fifth month of the year, including May, but also plenty of more subtle choices.
So if you’re mostly interested in nodding to the month? Names associated with the star signs of May – Taurus and Gemini; the birthstone of May – emerald; or May’s birth flowers – lily of the valley – could be every bit as appealing.
But if it’s the sound that appeals? These May names are for you.
POPULAR MAY BABY NAMES
AMAIA and AMAYA
It’s not exactly a May name. The letters are there, but it’s pronounced with a long I sound, just like Maya. Originally a Basque name, Amaia means “the end.”
Often chosen as a middle name, Mae wears well as a first, too.
An Irish heritage choice, Maeve makes the list on sound alone; it actually means “intoxicating.” But this rising favorite could be a subtle nod to the season.
MAIA and MAYA
Not only is Maya a Roman goddess of spring, but “may” is right there in the name. It’s long been among the top names in the US; the “y” spelling has appeared in the US Top 100 since 2002.
Maisie evolved a Scottish short form of Margaret, but it carries the Mae sound. Maisy is also seen, along with more inventive spellings.
It sounds like a name for Dorothy Gale’s BFF out in Kansas, a name both vintage and adventurous.
If you like the surname-style Bellamy, but prefer something more clearly in given name territory, Bellamae might appeal.
This feels like an inevitable mash-up of two popular short names, and 80 girls received the name in 2021 alone. But that’s still quite rare.
If April showers bring May flowers, then maybe Lilymae is a logical blend.
In Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, we eventually learned that the glamorous Holly Golightly was born the downhome Lula Mae Barnes. I keep waiting for Lula to catch on, so why not Lulamae?
This looks like an elaboration of Mabel, but seems designed for a different sound: may belle rather than may BUL. Maebelle works, too.
There’s Rosalie and Rosalind, Rosemary and Roseanna. Why not Rosamae? Rose names are plentiful, and this one feels both vintage and vibrant.
There’s something lovely about this sound, combining the sweet simplicity of Sarah and Mae.
If you love rare May names, Esme might appeal – but spelling it phonetically clears up any pronunciation confusion.
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, these rare May names have lots of appeal.
A surname name with multiple possible origins, most Americans probably hear Macy and think of the department store chain. But it’s also a bright, energetic surname name with the sound May front and center.
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, the character’s given name was just Mae.
You’ll meet Gracelynns and Avalynns, so why not Maelynn? Plenty of spellings are seen.
A bold word name growing in use for girls, Maven comes from a Hebrew word, meaning “one who understands.”
A handful of girls have been named Maybelline dating back to the 1920s. 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.
Maylee followed Hailee and Kaylee into wider use, a creation from stylish sounds. It debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2016, but has since left again.
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.
Familiar to French speakers, but seldom heard in the US, Maëlle comes from the name of a fifth century saint. It’s derived 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.
A cousin to Maelle, Maëlys might also relate to Maylis.
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.
Possibly a masculine name, and sometimes said to be the birth name of towering St. Patrick, Maewyn sounds breezy and unexpected.
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.
A Basque name, related to the classic Magdalene and Madeline, it’s also the name of a well-known poet.
It’s the ship that brought the Pilgrims to the New World, but it’s also another name for the shrubs and trees we also know as hawthorn. Hawthorn, too, could be a perfect May name, but it’s Mayflower that carries the sound.
The name of a French village, Maylis might also come from the name Marie and lys, the French word for lily.
Do you have any favorite May names?
Originally published on May 4, 2012, this post was revised substantially and re-published on May 1, 2018; May 1, 2020; April 8, 2021; and April 19, 2023.