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Gender: female
Pronunciation: KAY
Meaning: rejoicing, elder sister
Related Names: Caye, Kai, Kate, Katherine, Kayana, Kayann, Kaye, Kayla, Kaylee, Kaylin, Keh

Length: 3 Gender: {{#if female



Rank in 2000s: 0 0

Name: kay Origin: Welsh,,, Hopi,, Meaning (no case): rejoicing, elder sister



The name Kay may be short and sweet, but its origin and history are complicated.

As a boy’s name, Kay is probably the Welsh interpretation of the name Gaius, a Roman name meaning “happy, rejoicing.” It would have first been Caius and then Cai before transforming into Kay.[1] However, Kay may also be an English name meaning “son of Ector” (from Arthurian Legend), or a Scottish name meaning “fire.”[1]

As a girl’s name, Kay is a shortened form of the name Katherine, which is of Greek origin and means “pure.”[1] It may also be a shortened form of any female name that begins with a “K.” While the girl’s name Kay originated as a nickname, it has evolved into a given name in its own right.[1] Kay was also a name used among the Native American Hopi tribe: in that tradition it means “elder sister.”[1]

As a surname, Kay might have come from the Middle English word “kaye,” which meant “wharf.” It was likely an occupational surname for someone who worked on the wharf, or possibly a location surname for someone who lived near a wharf.[1] Alternatively, the surname could have come from a nickname in Middle English which meant “clumsy” or “left-handed.”[1]


Though Kay may be given to both boys and girls, it has become a predominately female name. As a girl’s name, Kay was among the top 1000 most popular names in the United States for most of the twentieth century. It was most popular in the 1930s and 40s, when it climbed to the rank of 70 in 1941. However, Kay quickly lost popularity. It was last seen on the chart in 1984, after hovering in the 900s since 1978.[1] Kay has retained a bit more popularity in Australia, where it ranked at number 683 in 2002.[1]

As a boy’s name, Kay was less popular, but it appeared consistently on the top 1000 chart between 1920 and 1945. The peak appeared at number 449 in 1934, and Kay last appeared on the boy’s chart in 1947, ranking at number 898.[1]

As a surname, Kay ranks at number 1,195 on the list of most common surnames in the United States. The highest concentration of people with the last name Kay is in California, followed by Florida, Texas and New York.[1] In England and Wales, Kay ranked as the 364th most common name.[1]


  • In Arthurian Legend, Sir Kay was Arthur’s foster brother and his seneschal.[1] In early versions of the stories Kay was depicted as a great warrior, but in later versions he was often depicted as gruff and foolish. In the version of the story that most people will recognize, Kay was competing in a tournament and forgot his sword; Arthur, his brother and page, was sent to fetch a sword, and this is when he drew Excalibur from the stone.[1]





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Author: Sarena Emily Levinson

Facts about KayRDF feed
Gender female  +
Length 3  +
Meaning rejoicing, elder sister  +
Meaningnc rejoicing, elder sister  +
Name kay  +
Origin Welsh  +, and Hopi  +
Popularity 0  +
Pronunciation KAY  +
Rank in 2000s 0  +
Related Caye  +, Kai  +, Kate  +, Katherine  +, Kayana  +, Kayann  +, Kaye  +, Kayla  +, Kaylee  +, Kaylin  +, and Keh  +
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