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Origin of the name MAB.
Etymology of the name MAB.
Meaning of the baby name MAB.


MAB.  An English form of Irish Meadhbh (q.v.), or Meubhdh (q.v.), meaning "merry."

    Meadhbh was a heroine of Irish romance, who gradually developed into the Queen of the Fairies in popular lore, under the name of Mab, and it was in that character that she was transplanted from Irish on to English soil, by the Elizabethan poets.

Romeo:  I dreamt a dream to-night...
Mercutio:  O! then, I see, Queen Mab hath been
    with you.
                                                    she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Over men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her waggon-spokes made of long spinners' legs;
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars, of the moonshine's watery beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film;
Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid.
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut,
Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub,
Time out of mind the faires' coachmakersó
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love:
O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on court'sies straight.
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees:
O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream;
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometimes she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit:
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig's tail,
Tickling a parson's nose as 'a lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice.
Sometimes she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes;
And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,
And sleeps again.  This is that very Mab,
That plats the manes of horses in the night;
And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes.
                   Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare.)

    From the scene given above from Romeo and Juliet the reader will see that Mab was, in the popular fancy, employed to inspire men's brains with dreams, and Sir Walter Scott in The Antiquary assumes the same thing:
    "I have a friend who is peculiarly favoured with visits from Queen Mab", he says, meaning that his friend was a great dreamer.
    Titania, as we all know, was really the Queen of the Fairies, and the word "Queen", when used in connection with Mab, is not really queen at all, but quén or cwén, a saxon word for woman or nurse, and the Danish word ellequinde means female elf, not queen of elves.  "Mab" in Welsh means baby.  According to Prof. Morley, Mabinogion is the plural of the Welsh word Mabinogi, which means entertainment or instruction for the young, the word being derived from Mab, a Child, or Maban, a young child.  The Mabinogion, the celebrated collection of Welsh romances, now preserved at Jesus College, Oxford, contains versions of three French Arthurian romances, two British tales, a history of Taliesin, and other matter. (Girls' Christian Names, Swan, 1905).


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