Editor’s note: This post was originally published on March 15, 2010. It was revised and re-posted on May 6, 2013.
She’s small but mighty, packing serious style into a mere three letters.
Thanks to RockingFetal for suggesting Mae as Name of the Day.
Mae isn’t just a name, she’s a time of the year. If you’re hearing lyrics about “strolling through the park in the merry, merry month of” surely you’re not alone. May and Mae were nearly tied for popularity in the late nineteenth century, but today, May feels slightly more like a month and Mae just a smidge more like a given name.
Of course, April, June and even January are bestowed as given names. In the US, May marks the start of Summer – also a popular choice for girls.
Many a famous Mae started out as Mary.
Mae West, she of the “come up and see me sometime” come-on, was born Mary Jane. She didn’t become a movie star until she was in her late 30s. In 1933, she and Cary Grant co-starred in She Done Him Wrong, an Oscar-nominated flick that put the ailing Paramount Pictures back in the black. West became a megastar.
Mae is sweet, but the daring Ms. West keeps her from being too precious.
The most recent Queen Mary of England – grandmother to the current queen, Elizabeth II, was born Princes Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes of Teck. Her family called her May, a nod to both her second name and the month of her birth. May married the soon-to-be King George V of England in 1893.
And if the Hollywood star and English queen weren’t enough, there’s a goddess, too.
The month of May honors Roman earth goddess Maia or Maja, currently a Top 100 pick in the US as Maya and not too far from fellow mini name Mia. The English word May evolved via the French mai, from the Latin maius.
In Greek myth, Maia was the eldest of seven sisters, known as the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Today they’re a constellation.
There’s also a link to the Virgin Mary in Catholicism – the month of May is dedicated to Mary.
But there’s also Madonna’s Mae, a tough-as-nails New Yorker in 1992’s A League of Their Own. and Anjelica Huston’s Oscar-winning turn as Maerose Prizzi in 1985’s Prizzi’s Honor.
Other uses of Mae include:
- A botancial link, from a type of hawthorn called May;
- A place name, as in Victorian seaside resort Cape May, New Jersey;
- A middle name, as in the musical Maggie May and an alternative to Rae and Marie;
- A surname, as in Louisa May Alcott’s mom Abby May, lending her a hint of literary vibe.
Overall, Mae makes for quite the stylish – and restrained – choice. Mae ranked just #803 in 2011, while May remains unranked. She’s an under-the-radar mini-name that would wear well in 2013.