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AZ_Dawn
03-11-2008, 02:27 AM
What's the difference between Mac and Mc in Irish and Scottish surnames? I've heard that Mac is Scottish and Mc is Irish; I've also heard that it's the other way around. And then, from looking at old records I get the feeling that Mac and Mc are interchangeable for both nationalities!

Thanks in advance.

dpaterso
03-11-2008, 02:51 AM
Mac (son of) is the traditional spelling, which has been shortened to Mc over the ages. Both are widespread in Scotland and Ireland. I've known McDonalds (which may be a Lowland variant), MacDonalds and Macdonalds (possibly Highlands and Western Isles variants). Accidental misspelling of said surnames may provoke an angry reaction! No kidding, I've seen it. "SMALL 'D'! SMALL 'D' DAMN YOU!" :)

-Derek

AZ_Dawn
03-11-2008, 03:11 AM
Thanks, dpaterso; that helps a lot!

Hmmm. Since Mac is traditional, maybe I should use that version in my pirate stories.

Medievalist
03-11-2008, 09:10 AM
Mc is typically a sign of Anglicization, though it often happened without the person whose name it was consenting to the variant spelling. There are instances in large clans where two brothers have variant spellings.

HeronW
03-11-2008, 03:04 PM
Early 1900's America when so many Irish were coming over to escape the famine and poverty, the Mc was pronounced Mic and used as a derogatory term for the Irish.

katiemac
03-11-2008, 05:13 PM
No kidding, I've seen it. "SMALL 'D'! SMALL 'D' DAMN YOU!" :)

Yeah, I have to do this a LOT ... except in my case it's the capital. And not the letter D. ;) Even if my name is on a submitted form there's a 50-50 chance it comes out wrong anyway. I had to get my high school to redistribute my diploma.

JamieFord
03-11-2008, 06:49 PM
Here's everything you need to know about patronyms. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronymic)

AZ_Dawn
03-12-2008, 03:52 AM
Thanks, guys! Guess Mac and Mc are pretty much interchangeable, and I should just pick one for consistency.

Jenan Mac
03-12-2008, 04:48 AM
In the US they're pretty random, depending upon how literate the immigration and census people were. We have Macs and Mcs, sometimes all in the same immediate family. And you don't even want to know what horrors of misspelling can be performed upon the name of MacLean. It isn't pretty, I'll tell you that.

#1Pencil
03-16-2008, 10:18 AM
Mac is generally Scottish and Mc is Irish, but there are of course exceptions. Both are found widely in Scotland and Ireland.

It means "son of" So McKay is "son of Kay" way back when.

Huge influx of Irish at end of 19th century into US where, like any large immigrant group, they were immediately shunned and it was considered low class to have an Irish name, hence some changed to "Mac" for more "class" at that time.

mommyjo2
03-16-2008, 07:20 PM
I *hope* they are interchangeable, as we named one of our children "Macmillan" after grandma's maiden name of McMillan and I'm not changing the birth certificate! LOL

We went with Mac instead of Mc because Mc is a terrible nickname.

Kathie Freeman
03-16-2008, 08:27 PM
And you don't even want to know what horrors of misspelling can be performed upon the name of MacLean. It isn't pretty, I'll tell you that.

You think you got problems? Try a last name like Mc Pugh! (Think Hugh, not Pug). And no fair holding your nose.

spike
03-16-2008, 10:49 PM
My last name is Mac Adam. Capital M and Capital A with a space.

That is the correct way to spell it. j/k

StephanieFox
03-17-2008, 04:01 AM
You think you got problems? Try a last name like Mc Pugh! (Think Hugh, not Pug). And no fair holding your nose.


Perhaps you could drop this final 'h' and actually become McPug. That sounds kinda cute and people would have less problem spelling it. You could even put a pug in your family crest.