fem. proper name, shortening of Amabell, Amabillia (c. 1200), fem. formations from Latin amabilis "loving; lovable; pleasant, attractive," from amare "to love" (see Amy). In the U.S. it enjoyed its greatest popularity as a given name for girl babies from c. 1884 to 1895.
casual, generic term of address for a man, 1928, from Irish and Gaelic mac, a common element in Scottish and Irish names (literally "son of;" see Mac-); hence used generally from 1650s for "a Celtic Irishman."
common conjoined prefix in Scottish and Irish names, from Old Celtic *makko-s "son." Cognate *makwos "son" produced Old Welsh map, Welsh mab, ap "son;" also probably cognate with Old English mago "son, attendant, servant," Old Norse mögr "son," Gothic magus "boy, servant," Old English mægð "maid" (see maiden).
Formerly often abbreviated to M' and followed by a capital letter, or spelled out Mac and then rarely used with a capital; as, M'Donald, Macdonald, McDonald.
name of a genus of Old World monkeys, Modern Latin, from Portuguese macaca, fem. of macaco, a name from an African language of the Congo (compare macaque).
name of a district on the island of Celebes (modern Sulawesi), 1660s, from native Mangkasara. Especially in Macassar oil (1809), trade name of a hair tonic "grandiloquently advertised in the early part of the 19th century" [OED] and said to be made from materials obtained from Macassar.
masc. proper name, Gaelic, literally "son of life." The first reference to bad luck associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and to avoidance of naming it, is from 1896, alludes to an incident of 1885, and says the tradition goes back "so far as modern memory can recall." The original superstition seems to have pertained particularly to the witches' scenes, which were played up dramatically in 19c. productions, and especially to Matthew Locke's 17c. music to accompany the witches' song, which was regularly played through the 19th century.
It is strange how the effect of this music has exerted such a long surviving influence on members of the dramatic profession. It is still considered most unlucky to sing, hum, or whistle the witch airs in the theatre except in the ways of business. [Young-Stewart, "The Three Witches," in The Shakespearean, Sept. 15, 1896]
If you number an actor or actress among your friends, and desire to retain his or her friendship, there are three things you positively must not do, especially if the actor is of the old school. Do not whistle in the theatre, do not look over his shoulder into the glass while he is making up, and do not hum the witch's song from "Macbeth." ... [O]lder actors would almost prefer to lose their salary than go on in "Macbeth" on account of this song. They believe that it casts spells upon the members of the company. ["Some Odd Superstitions of the Stage," Theatre magazine, July 1909]
line of Jewish princes who ruled in Judea, late 14c., from Late Latin Maccabæus, surname given to Judas, third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean, leader of the religious revolt against Antiochus IV, 175-166 B.C.E. Usually connected with Hebrew maqqabh "hammer," but Klein thinks it an inexact transliteration of Hebrew matzbi "general, commander of an army." Related: Maccabean.
chemical spray originally used in riot control, 1966, technically Chemical Mace, a proprietary name (General Ordnance Equipment Corp, Pittsburgh, Pa.), probably so called for its use as a weapon, in reference to mace (n.1). The verb, "to spray with Mace," is attested by 1968. Related: Maced; macing.