Archaic Dutch surname that is now no longer in use (not in this exact spelling, that is): the spelling reflects the surname's origin from older times (as -eyt
is an exclusively archaic spelling that has not survived into modern times like its counterparts -eit
did). It was probably derived from malefeit
, the archaic Dutch name for the bird called Leach's Storm Petrel
. The Dutch had adopted the name from Portuguese seafarers, who called the bird malfeitor
"malefactor, wrongdoer", ultimately derived from Portuguese malfeito
"badly made, badly done". The Portuguese seafarers so called the bird because (partially due to its predominantly black colour) it was seen as an ambassador of evil who came to announce the arrival of storms on the sea. Lastly, also compare Malfeyt
, a surname that has different origins but is very similar etymologically.