Maurice


Gender: Masculine
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “dark; black”
Fr. (moh-REESE) Eng (MOR-ris).

He may seem a bit dated to some, but parents looking to vintage names like Leo and Brice/Bryce might see the appeal in this. Traditionally nicknamed Maury, parents who opt for the French pronunciation have the advantage of using Reese. Look past Maury Povich and the cartoon character in Madgascar, and you will find that the name has a long and rich history.

He is a derivative of the Roman name Mauritius, which is derived from the Latin Maurus meaning, “dark-skinned; dark complexion.”

The name was borne by Emperor Maurice of Byzantium (539-602). Known in Greek as Maurikios and in his native Armenian as Morik, he was one of the most influential and decisive rulers of the Byzantine Empire, so much so that he is a national hero in his native Armenia till this day.

StMaurice2 (1)The name is also borne by a very popular 3rd century saint. St. Maurice was an Egyptian by birth and a Roman citizen. He served in the Roman army and was apart of the Theban legions, which had been stationed in Switzerland at the time of the saint’s martyrdom. According to legend, Emperor Maximian ordered Maurice and his legions to destroy a local Christian community, when Maurice and his followers refused to harass fellow Christians, the emperor ordered them to be executed. The area of martyrdom is now known as Saint Maurice-en-Valais and the Abbey of Saint Maurice-en-Valais supposedly houses the saint’s relics.

800px-St._Moritz_by_nightThe saint also gave his name to another town in Switzerland: St. Moritz, (Top of the World), is a beautiful little resort town that sits in the Valley of Engadine and the canton of Graubünden. Their coat of arms actually features the legendary saint. St. Maurice is also venerated among Coptic Christians. In fact, the names Maurice and Maurikios are fairly common among Egyptian Christians.

The German form of Moritz is found in the popular German children’s series Max and Moritz written by Wilhelm Busch in 1865. The humorous duo is still a common pop icon in German speaking countries. Other notable appearances include a novel by E.M. Forster, (Maurice) written in 1913, a tale of same sex love in early 20th-century England.

The Island of Mauritius or L’île Maurice in French, is a former French colony off the coast of Africa. It was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau, the Stadtholder of the Netherlands.

The designated name-day is September 22

Currently, Maurice is the 150th most popular male name in Germany, (2011), and he still lurks within the U.S top 1000 coming in as the 445th most popular male name, (2010).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Morik Մորիկ (Armenian)
  • Moïc (Breton)
  • Maurici (Catalan)
  • Maurikios (Coptic/Greek)
  • Maric Мариц (Croatian/Serbian)
  • Maurits (Dutch/Scandinavian)
  • Mauri (Finnish)
  • Maur (French)
  • Maurice (French/English)
  • Moriz (German: archaic)
  • Moritz (German/Scandinavian)
  • Móric (Hungarian/Slovakian)
  • Mór (Hungarian)
  • Muiris (Irish)
  • Maurizio (Italian)
  • Mauro (Italian/Portuguese/Romansch)
  • Mauritius (Late Latin)
  • Maurus (Latin/Romansch)
  • Morics (Latvian)
  • Maurycy (Polish)
  • Maurício (Portuguese)
  • Maurin (Romansch)
  • Murezi (Romansch)
  • Murezzan (Romansch)
  • Mauricio (Spanish)
  • Meuric/Meurig (Welsh)

Its feminine counterparts are Maura, Mauricia and Maurizia.

Common English short forms are  Maury, Moe and Morry.

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