Although this was in use as a personal name both before and after the Norman Conquest, modern use in most cases almost certainly represents a transferred use of the surname. This originated as a byname for someone from Scotland or, within Scotland itself, for a member of the Gaelic-speaking people who originally came from Ireland. The given name is now often chosen by parents conscious of their Scottish ancestry and heritage, but it is also used more widely.
German and Dutch: from Middle High German meier, a status name for a steward, bailiff, or overseer, which later came to be used also to denote a tenant farmer, which is normally the sense in the many compound surnames formed with this term as a second element. Originally it denoted a village headman (ultimately from Latin māior ‘greater’, ‘superior’).