Geneanet > Resources > Family Names > KAY

Origin and popularity of the name KAY


Kay : 1: English: nickname from northern Middle English ka kae kay ‘jackdaw’ from Old Norse ká or Old English cā. See also Daw.2: English: nickname from Middle English cai kay kei ‘left-handed clumsy’.3: English: occasionally perhaps an occupational name from Middle English kai(e) kei(e) ‘key’ applied to a maker of keys (compare Kear) or alluding to the office of keeper or bearer of keys but clear evidence for this is wanting.4: English: topographic name for someone living or working on or near a quay Middle English kay(e) key(e) keay Old French kay cay.5: English: from a Middle English personal name which figures in Arthurian legend. It is found in Old Welsh as Cai Middle Welsh Kei and is ultimately from the Latin personal name Gaius.6: Scottish Irish and Manx: shortened Anglicized form of Gaelic McKay.9: Shortened form of any of various names beginning with the letter K-.7: German Danish and Dutch: from the personal name Kay which is of uncertain origin most likely as a variant of Key a pet form of personal names like Gerard Gerhardt and Gerrit (see Gerrits). This surname is also found in France (Alsace and Lorraine). Compare Kai.8: Dutch and North German: topographic name for someone living by a quayside from Dutch kaai ‘quay’ German Kai (which was borrowed from the Dutch).10: Chinese: variant Romanization of the surnames 紀 (see Ji 1) and 祁 (see Qi 2).11: Chinese: possibly from Cantonese form of some Chinese names 奇 (meaning ‘special’) 琦 (meaning ‘outstanding’) or 基 (meaning ‘base’) which were monosyllabic personal names or part of disyllabic personal names of some early Chinese immigrants in the US.


Source : DAFN2 : Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, ©2022 by Patrick Hanks and Oxford University Press
FANBI : The Oxford Dictionary if Family Names in Britain and Ireland, ©2016, University of the West of England
FANBI : The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain, ©2021, University of the West of England

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Last name frequency

Geographic distribution of the 41,156 individuals with the name KAY on Geneanet.


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