MAXIMILIAN m German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish
From the Roman name Maximilianus
, which was derived from MAXIMUS
. It was borne by a 3rd-century saint and martyr. In the 15th century the Holy Roman emperor Frederick III gave this name to his son and eventual heir. In this case it was a blend of the names of the Roman generals Fabius Maximus and Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus (see EMILIANO
), who Frederick admired. It was subsequently borne by a second Holy Roman emperor, two kings of Bavaria, and a short-lived Habsburg emperor of Mexico.
MAXIMÓN m Mythology
The name of a trickster folk deity, also called San Simón, worshipped by the Maya people in parts of Guatemala. He is a syncretic figure thought to have arisen during the Spanish conquest, and is typically represented by a man-sized, cigar-smoking, alcohol-drinking wooden effigy. The meaning of the name is uncertain. It could be a blend of Mam
, a title of some of the Maya gods meaning "grandfather", and SIMÓN
, referring to Saint Peter
. Alternatively it might be related to Mayan max
MAXIMUS m Ancient Roman
Roman family name that was derived from Latin maximus "greatest"
. Saint Maximus was a monk and theologian from Constantinople in the 7th century.
MAXINE f English
Feminine form of MAX
. It has been commonly used only since the beginning of the 20th century.
MAXWELL m English
From a Scottish surname meaning "Mack's stream"
, from the name Mack
, a short form of the Scandinavian name MAGNUS
, combined with Old English wella
"stream". A famous bearer of the surname was James Maxwell (1831-1879), a Scottish physicist who studied gases and electromagnetism.
MAY f English
Derived from the name of the month of May, which derives from Maia
, the name of a Roman goddess. May is also another name of the hawthorn flower. It is also used as a diminutive of MARY
MAYA (1) f Hinduism, Indian, Hindi, Marathi
in Sanskrit. In Buddhist tradition this is the name of the mother of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). This is also another name of the Hindu goddess Durga
MAYA (2) f English
Variant of MAIA (1)
. This name can also be given in reference to the Maya peoples, a Native American culture who built a great civilization in southern Mexico and Latin America.
MAYLIS f French
From the name of a town in southern France, possibly derived from Occitan mair
"mother" and French lys
"lily". It is also sometimes considered a combination of MARIE
MAYRBEK m Chechen
Derived from Nakh майра (mayra)
meaning "husband, brave man" combined with the Turkish military title beg
meaning "chieftain, master".
MAYU f Japanese
From Japanese 真 (ma)
meaning "real, genuine" or 満 (ma)
meaning "full" combined with 優 (yu)
meaning "excellence, superiority, gentleness" or 夕 (yu)
meaning "evening". This name can also be constructed from other kanji combinations.
MAYUMI (1) f Japanese
From Japanese 真 (ma)
meaning "real, genuine" combined with 弓 (yumi)
meaning "archery bow" or 由 (yu)
meaning "reason" and 美 (mi)
meaning "beautiful". This name can also be constructed from other kanji combinations.
MCKINLEY f & m English
From a surname, the Gaelic form of which is Mac Fhionnlaigh
meaning "son of FIONNLAGH"
. A famous bearer was the assassinated American president William McKinley (1843-1901).
MEADE m & f English (Rare)
From an English surname that indicated one who lived on a meadow (from Middle English mede
) or one who sold or made mead (an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey; from Old English meodu
MEDAD m Biblical
in Hebrew. In the Old Testament Medad is one of the elders who prophesizes in the camp of the Israelites after the flight from Egypt.
MEDEA f Greek Mythology (Latinized), Georgian
From Greek Μήδεια (Medeia)
, possibly derived from μήδομαι (medomai)
meaning "to think, to plan"
. In Greek mythology Medea was a sorceress from Colchis (modern Georgia) who helped Jason
gain the Golden Fleece. They were married, but eventually Jason left her for another woman. For revenge Medea slew Jason's new lover and also had her own children by Jason killed.
MEDORA f Literature
Created by Lord Byron for a character in his poem The Corsair
(1814). It is not known what inspired Byron to use this name. The year the poem was published, it was used as the middle name of Elizabeth Medora Leigh (1814-1849), a niece and rumoured daughter of Byron.
MEDUSA f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek Μέδουσα (Medousa)
, which was derived from μέδω (medo)
meaning "to protect, to rule over"
. In Greek myth this was the name of one of the three Gorgons, ugly women who had snakes for hair. She was so hideous that anyone who gazed upon her was turned to stone, so the hero Perseus
had to look using the reflection in his shield in order to slay her.
MEGA f & m Indonesian
in Indonesian, ultimately from Sanskrit मेघ (megha)
MEGAERA f Greek Mythology (Latinized)
Latinized form of Greek Μέγαιρα (Megaira)
, which was derived from μεγαίρω (megairo)
meaning "to grudge"
. This was the name of one of the Furies or Ἐρινύες (Erinyes)
in Greek mythology. The name is used as a word in several European languages to denote a shrewish, ill-tempered woman (for example, French mégère
and Italian megera
MEGAN f Welsh, English
Welsh diminutive of MARGARET
. In the English-speaking world outside of Wales it has only been regularly used since the middle of the 20th century.
MEGUMI f Japanese
From Japanese 恵 (megumi)
meaning "favour, benefit" or 愛 (megumi)
meaning "love, affection", as well as other kanji or kanji combinations that have the same reading. It is often written using the hiragana writing system.
MEHETABEL f Biblical
From the Hebrew name מְהֵיטַבְאֵל (Meheitav'el)
meaning "God makes happy"
. This name is mentioned briefly in the Old Testament.
MEHMED m Ottoman Turkish, Bosnian
Older form of MEHMET
, as well as the Bosnian form. This was the name of six sultans of the Ottoman Empire, including Mehmed II the conqueror of Constantinople.
MEHR m & f Persian, Persian Mythology
Modern Persian form of MITHRA
. As a Persian vocabulary word it means "friendship"
. It is also the name of the seventh month of the Persian calendar. All these derive from the same source: the Indo-Iranian root *mitra
meaning "oath, covenant, agreement".
MEHRAB m Persian, Literature
From مهر (Mehr)
, the Persian word for MITHRA
, combined with Persian آب (ab)
meaning "water". This is the name of the king of Kabul in the 10th-century Persian epic the Shahnameh
MEHRNAZ f Persian
From Persian مهر (mehr)
meaning "friendship" or "sun" and ناز (naz)
meaning "delight, comfort". This is the name of a character in the 10th-century Persian epic the Shahnameh
MEI (1) f Chinese
From Chinese 美 (měi)
meaning "beautiful" or 梅 (méi)
meaning "Chinese plum" (species Prunus mume), as well as other characters that are pronounced similarly.
MEI (2) f Japanese
From Japanese 芽 (me)
meaning "bud, sprout" combined with 依 (i)
meaning "rely on", 生 (i)
meaning "life" or 衣 (i)
meaning "clothing, garment". Other kanji combinations are possible.
MEINRAD m German, Ancient Germanic
Derived from the Germanic elements magan
"mighty, strong" and rad
"counsel". Saint Meinrad was a 9th-century hermit who founded the Benedictine abbey at Einsiedeln in Switzerland.
MEINWEN f Welsh
Means "slender and white"
from Welsh main
"slender" and gwen
"white, fair, blessed".
MEJA f Swedish (Modern)
Possibly from a Low German diminutive of names beginning with the Germanic element magan
. It was popularized by the Swedish singer Meja (1969-), born Anna Pernilla Torndahl.
MELANIE f English, German, Dutch
, the French form of the Latin name Melania
, derived from Greek μέλαινα (melaina)
meaning "black, dark"
. This was the name of a Roman saint who gave all her wealth to charity in the 5th century. Her grandmother was also a saint with the same name.... [more]
MELBA f English
From the surname of the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (1861-1931). This was a stage name that she got from the name of the city Melbourne, where she was born.
MELCHIOR m Dutch, Judeo-Christian Legend
Possibly from the Hebrew roots מֶלֶכְ (melekh)
meaning "king" and אוֹר ('or)
meaning "light". This was a name traditionally assigned to one of the wise men (also known as the Magi, or three kings) who were said to have visited the newborn Jesus
. According to medieval tradition he was a king of Persia.
MELE f Hawaiian
in Hawaiian. This name is also used as a Hawaiian and Samoan form of MARY
MELETE f Greek Mythology
Means "practice, exercise"
in Greek. In Greek mythology she was one of the original three muses, the muse of meditation.
MELIA f Greek Mythology
Means "ash tree"
in Greek, a derivative of μέλι (meli)
meaning "honey". This was the name of a nymph in Greek myth, the daughter of the Greek god Okeanos.
MELINA f English, Greek
Elaboration of Mel
, either from names such as MELISSA
or from Greek μέλι (meli)
meaning "honey". A famous bearer was Greek-American actress Melina Mercouri (1920-1994), who was born Maria Amalia Mercouris.
MELINDA f English, Hungarian
Combination of Mel
(from names such as MELANIE
) with the popular name suffix inda
. It was created in the 18th century, and may have been inspired by the similar name Belinda
. In Hungary, the name was popularized by the 1819 play Bánk Bán
by József Katona.
MÉLISANDE f French
French form of MILLICENT
used by Maurice Maeterlinck in his play Pelléas et Mélisande
(1893). The play was later adapted by Claude Debussy into an opera (1902).
MELISSA f English, Dutch, Ancient Greek, Greek Mythology
in Greek. In Greek mythology this was the name of a daughter of Procles, as well as an epithet of various Greek nymphs and priestesses. According to the early Christian writer Lactantius this was the name of the sister of the nymph Amalthea
, with whom she cared for the young Zeus
. Later it appears in Ludovico Ariosto's 1516 poem Orlando Furioso
belonging to the fairy who helps Ruggiero
escape from the witch Alcina. As an English given name, Melissa
has been used since the 18th century.
MELITA f Various
In the case of Queen Victoria's granddaughter Princess Victoria Melita (1876-1936) it was derived from Melita
, the Latin name of the island country of Malta, where she was born.
MELLE m Dutch
Originally a short form of Germanic names beginning with the element mathal
MELODY f English
From the English word melody
, which is derived (via Old French and Late Latin) from Greek μέλος (melos)
meaning "song" combined with ἀείδω (aeido)
meaning "to sing".
MELPOMENE f Greek Mythology
Derived from Greek μέλπω (melpo)
meaning "to sing, to celebrate with song"
. This was the name of one of the nine Muses in Greek mythology, the muse of tragedy.
MELQART m Semitic Mythology
Means "king of the city"
, from Phoenician mlk
"king" and qrt
"city". This was the name of a Phoenician god worshipped especially in the city of Tyre.
MELUSINE f Mythology
Meaning unknown. In European folklore Melusine was a water fairy who turned into a serpent from the waist down every Saturday. She made her husband, Raymond of Poitou, promise that he would never see her on that day, and when he broke his word she left him forever.
MELVILLE m English
From a Scottish surname that was originally from a Norman French place name meaning "bad town"
. A famous bearer of the surname was the American author Herman Melville (1819-1891), who wrote several novels including Moby-Dick
MEMPHIS m English (Modern)
From the name of an important city of ancient Egypt, or the city in Tennessee that was named after it. It is derived from a Greek form of Egyptian Mn-nfr
meaning "enduring beauty".
MENAHEM m Biblical, Hebrew
From the Hebrew name מְנַחֵם (Menachem)
. This was the name of a king of Israel, appearing in the Old Testament. His reign was noted for its brutality.
MENELAUS m Greek Mythology (Latinized)
From the Greek name Μενέλαος (Menelaos)
, derived either from μένω (meno)
meaning "to stay, to wait" or μένος (menos)
meaning "mind, strength, force" combined with λαός (laos)
meaning "the people". In Greek legend he was a king of Sparta and the husband of Helen
. When his wife was taken by Paris
, the Greeks besieged the city of Troy in an effort to get her back. After the war Menelaus and Helen settled down to a happy life.
MENES m Ancient Egyptian
Meaning unknown. Menes was an Egyptian king who united Upper and Lower Egypt around 3000 BC. He is also known as Narmer; Menes was probably his funeral name.
MENODORA f Ancient Greek
Means "gift of the moon"
, derived from Greek μήνη (mene)
meaning "moon" and δῶρον (doron)
meaning "gift". This was the name of a 4th-century saint who was martyred with her sisters Metrodora and Nymphodora.
MENTOR m Greek Mythology
Possibly related to Greek μένος (menos)
meaning "mind, strength, force"
. In Greek legend Mentor was the son of Alkimos. When Odysseus
left to fight in the Trojan War he entrusted Mentor with the care of his palace and the guardianship of his son Telemachos. When the goddess Athena
visited Telemachos she took the guise of Mentor.
MERAB (1) f Biblical
in Hebrew. This is the name of a daughter of Saul in the Old Testament.
MERARI m Biblical
in Hebrew. This is the name of the youngest son of Levi
in the Old Testament.
MERAUD f Cornish
Meaning unknown, perhaps based on Cornish mor "sea"
MERCEDES f Spanish
(that is, the plural of mercy), from the Spanish title of the Virgin Mary
, María de las Mercedes
, meaning "Mary of Mercies". It is ultimately from the Latin word merces
meaning "wages, reward", which in Vulgar Latin acquired the meaning "favour, pity".
MERCIA f English (Rare)
Latinate form of MERCY
. This was also the name of an old Anglo-Saxon kingdom, though it has a different origin.
MERCURY m Roman Mythology (Anglicized)
From the Latin Mercurius
, probably derived from Latin mercari "to trade"
or merces "wages"
. This was the name of the Roman god of trade, merchants, and travellers, later equated with the Greek god Hermes
. This is also the name of the first planet in the solar system and a metallic chemical element, both named for the god.
MERCY f English
From the English word mercy
, ultimately from Latin merces
"wages, reward", a derivative of merx
"goods, wares". This was one of the virtue names adopted by the Puritans in the 17th century.
MEREDITH m & f Welsh, English
From the Welsh name Maredudd
, possibly meaning "great lord"
or "sea lord"
. Since the mid-1920s it has been used more often for girls than for boys in English-speaking countries, though it is still a masculine name in Wales. A famous bearer of this name as surname was the English novelist and poet George Meredith (1828-1909).
MERIDA f Popular Culture
The name of the main character in the Disney/Pixar movie Brave
(2012) about a medieval Scottish princess. The meaning of her name is unexplained, though it could be based on the Spanish city of Mérida, derived from Latin Emerita Augusta
meaning "veterans of AUGUSTUS
", so named because it was founded by the emperor Augustus as a colony for his veterans.
MERITXELL f Catalan
From the name of a village in Andorra where there is a sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary
. The name of the village may derive from Latin meridies
MERIWETHER m English (Rare)
From a surname meaning "happy weather"
in Middle English, originally belonging to a cheery person. A notable bearer of the name was Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809), who, with William Clark, explored the west of North America.
MERJA f Finnish
Possibly from the name of an ancient Finnish tribe.
MERLE f & m English
Variant of MERRILL
. The spelling has been influenced by the word merle
meaning "blackbird" (via French, from Latin merula
MERLIN m Arthurian Romance, English
Form of the Welsh name Myrddin
(meaning "sea fortress"
) used by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 12th-century Arthurian tales. Writing in Latin, he likely chose the form Merlinus
in order to prevent associations with French merde
MERLYN m & f English
Variant of MERLIN
, sometimes used as a feminine form. It has perhaps been influenced by the Welsh word merlyn
MEROPE f Greek Mythology
From Greek μέρος (meros)
meaning "share, part" and ὄψ (ops)
meaning "face, eye". This was the name of several characters in Greek mythology, including the seventh of the Pleiades and the foster mother of Oedipus
MERRILL m English
From an English surname that was derived either from the given name MURIEL
or from place names meaning "pleasant hill".
MERRITT m English
From an English surname, originally from a place name, which meant "boundary gate"
in Old English.
MERRY (1) f English
From the English word merry
, ultimately from Old English myrige
. This name appears in Charles Dickens' novel Martin Chuzzlewit
(1844), where it is a diminutive of MERCY
MERRY (2) m Literature
The name of a hobbit in J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings
(1954). His full given name was Meriadoc
, a semi-translation into English of his true hobbit name Kalimac
meaning "jolly, merry"
MERRYN f Cornish
Meaning unknown. This was the name of an early Cornish (male) saint.
MERT m Turkish
Means "manly, brave"
in Turkish, from Persian مرد (mard)
MERTON m English
From a surname that was derived from a place name meaning "town on a lake"
in Old English.
MERVI f Finnish
From the name of a Finnish village (now a part of the municipality of Hattula).
MERVYN m Welsh, English
From the Welsh name Merfyn
, which possibly meant "marrow famous"
. This was the name of a 9th-century Welsh king, Merfyn Frych.
MERYL f English
Variant of MURIEL
, influenced by the spelling of the name CHERYL
. A famous bearer is American actress Meryl Streep (1949-), whose real name is Mary Louise Streep.
MESHACH m Biblical
Possibly means "who is what Aku is?"
in Akkadian, Aku
being the name of the Babylonian god of the moon. In the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament this is the Babylonian name of Mishael, one of the three men cast into a blazing furnace but saved from harm by God.
MESSIAH m Theology, English (Modern)
From the English word meaning "saviour"
, ultimately from Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (mashiyach)
meaning "anointed". The word appears in the Old Testament referring to a future king of the Jewish people. In the New Testament it is translated as Christ
and is used as a title of Jesus
METEHAN m Turkish
Combination of METE
and Turkish han
meaning "khan, ruler, leader", referring to the 3rd-century BC Xiongnu ruler Modu Chanyu.
METHODIUS m Late Greek (Latinized)
Latinized form of the Greek name Μεθόδιος (Methodios)
, derived from Greek μέθοδος (methodos)
, ultimately from μετά (meta)
meaning "with" and ὁδός (hodos)
meaning "road". Saint Methodius was a Greek missionary to the Slavs who developed the Cyrillic alphabet (with his brother Cyril) in order to translate the Bible into Slavic.
METHUSELAH m Biblical
Means "man of the dart"
in Hebrew. In the Old Testament he is the father of Lamech
and the grandfather of Noah
. He lived to age 969, making him the longest-lived person in the Bible.
METIS f Greek Mythology
Means "wisdom, skill, cunning"
in Greek. In Greek mythology she was a Titan. Because it was prophesized that her children would be wiser than Zeus
, he swallowed her after he had impregnated her. However, their daughter Athena
eventually burst from his head fully grown.