Gay Name Meaning

English and French: nickname for a lighthearted or cheerful person, from Middle English, Old French gai. In Middle English the term could also mean ‘wanton’, ‘lascivious’ and this sense may lie behind the surname in some instances. English (of Norman origin): habitational name from places in Normandy called Gaye, from an early proprietor bearing a Germanic personal name cognate with Wade. probably from the Catalan personal name Gai (Latin Gaius), or in some cases a nickname from Catalan gay ‘cheerful’. Variant of German Gau. North German: from a Frisian personal name Gay.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press

Similar surnames: May, Hay, Kay, Ray, Say, Pay, Bay, Fay, Gal, Goy

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Gay Ethnicity Estimate

What are the common regions with the Gay name?

These results combine data from everyone in the AncestryDNA® database with the last name Gay. The Ancestry® ethnicity regions shown are top five most common on average for these people.

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  • England & Wales


  • Ireland & Scotland


  • Germanic Europe


  • Cameroon, Congo, & Southern Bantu Peoples


  • France


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Gay Family Origin

Where is the Gay family from?

Gay Family Occupations

What did your Gay ancestors do for a living?

In 1881, a less common occupation for the Gay family was Servant. Farmer, Carpenter and Farmer Son were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Gay. The most common Gay occupation in Canada was Farmer. 38% of Gay's were Farmers.

View Census data for Gay | Data not to scale

  • Farmer

  • Carpenter

  • Farmer Son

  • Servant


Census records can tell you a lot of little known facts about your Gay ancestors, such as occupation. Occupation can tell you about your ancestor's social and economic status.

Gay Historical Records

What Gay family records will you find?

Census Record

There are 246,000 census records available for the last name Gay. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Gay census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search 1881 Canadian census records for Gay

Passenger List

There are 25,000 immigration records available for the last name Gay. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in Canada, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

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Draft Card

There are 39,000 military records available for the last name Gay. For the veterans among your Gay ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

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You've only scratched the surface of Gay family history.

Gay Life Expectancy

What is the average Gay lifespan?

Between 1943 and 2004, in the United States, Gay life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1950, and highest in 2003. The average life expectancy for Gay in 1943 was 36, and 73 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Gay

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Gay ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.

Famous Gay Family Ancestors

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