Latinate version of May or a respelled form of the name of the Roman goddess Maia, influenced by the common English name May. The goddess Maia was one of the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas and Pleione; she was the mother by Jupiter of Mercury. Her name seems to be derived from the root mai- ‘great’, seen also in Latin maior ‘larger’. In the case of the American writer Maya Angelou (b. 1928 as Marguerite Johnson), Maya is a nickname which she acquired in early childhood as a result of her younger brother's referring to her as ‘mya sista’.