English form of a common biblical name (meaning ‘who is like God?’ in Hebrew) borne by one of the archangels, the protector of the ancient Hebrews, who is also regarded as a saint of the Catholic Church. In the Middle Ages, Michael was regarded as captain of the heavenly host (see Revelation 12:7–9), symbol of the Church Militant, and patron of soldiers. He was often depicted bearing a flaming sword. The name is also borne by a Persian prince and ally of Belshazzar mentioned in the Book of Daniel. Since the early 1900s it has been one of the most enduringly popular boys' names in the English-speaking world. See also Michal.
English and Scottish: occupational name for a tailor, from Old French tailleur (Late Latin taliator, from taliare ‘to cut’). The surname is extremely common in Britain and Ireland, and its numbers have been swelled by its adoption as an Americanized form of the numerous equivalent European names, most of which are also very common among Ashkenazic Jews, for example Schneider, Szabó, and Portnov.