Attested: Ptolemy 2,2,11 Μαλεος (or Μαλαιος), one of 5 Εβουδαι listed with Ireland
Adomnan Malea (3 times in Life of St Columba, see pp 128,129,167 here)
Where: Almost certainly the Isle of Mull, around NM5732.
Name origin: Probably named after Μαλεα, Cape Maleas, the southern tip of the Peloponnese in Greece. The similarity in shape is strong, but it is really striking how both have islands with religious/mythological reputations off their tips: Iona and Kithira. Greek μαλεω is equated with αυξανω ‘to increase’, and presumably it descends from PIE *mel4- ‘strong, great’. Alternatively, a cape that was liable to storms and difficult to sail around in a small boat might be μαλερος ‘raging, violent’.
Notes: RC's Maiona is within manuscript-miscopying range of Latin maiora and may also refer to Mull, so maybe the same meaning of ‘greater’ (or possibly ‘add-on’) was transmitted in two classical languages. See here for a general discussion of M-vowel-L in ancient names and here for some general comments on Scottish island names and here for a list of up to 13 names close to Malea across ancient Europe .
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Last Edited: 4 June 2018