Key (and Variations)

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I thought you might be interested in finding out your predicted subclade - which would help you to identify your clan more narrowly in time and place. To do this, just use the easy, free Cullen predictor at Sometimes it can predict your subclade more specifically than the currently available deep clade SNP test. If you want, you can confirm your prediction later with a deep clade test. This is now particularly useful with certain haplogroups such as I and R and will be expanded soon to include more detail on other subclades.

Once you know your subclade from the predictor, you can research what it means from time to time as new data is developed to define it more specifically. You can google your subclade and look it up on Eupedia at

You can also find out more by joining your subclade or haplogroup project (free), such as R1b, I1, I2a, or G2a group or the closest they have to your most specific haplogroup or subclade. Use the "Join Projects" button on your testkit page. Remember that we all benefit by having our Key markers out in front when the researchers are trying to figure out which subclades come from where and when.

Special Pricing for New Members
If you have had your DNA tested by another lab, you can get a great deal on testing at Family Tree… Y-DNA12 ($59) Y-DNA25 ($89) Y-DNA37 ($119) Y -DNA67 ($208). Contact the Administrator for more information.

Derivation of Key Surname

The variations of the Key (and variants) surname likely evolved in different ways and at different times and places for different and sometimes completely unrelated Key family lines during the era when surnames generally were coming into use. Key is frequently considered an occupational surname, derived from the person's occupation as a locksmith. The Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press offers these possible suggestions:

1.English and German: variant of Kay.
2.Irish: reduced form of McKay.

1.English: nickname from Middle English ca ‘jackdaw’, from an unattested Old Norse ká. See also Daw.
2.English: nickname from Middle English cai, kay, kei ‘left-handed’, ‘clumsy’.
3.English: metonymic occupational name for a locksmith, from Middle English keye, kaye ‘key’. Compare Care, Kear.
4.English: topographic name for someone living on or near a quay, Middle English kay(e), Old French cay.
5.English: from a Middle English personal name which figures in Arthurian legend. It is found in Old Welsh as Cai, Middle Welsh Kei, and is ultimately from the Latin personal name Gaius.
6.Scottish and Irish: reduced form of McKay.
7.French: variant of Quay, cognate with 2.
8.Much shortened form of any of various names, mostly Eastern European, beginning with the letter K-.
9.Variant of Danish and Frisian Kai.

Scottish and northern Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Aodha ‘son of Aodh’, an ancient personal name meaning ‘fire’. Etymologically, this is the same name as McCoy.

Scottish and Irish: variant of Key.

1.Irish: reduced form of McKee.
2.Korean: variant of Ki.

Northern Irish and Scottish: variant of McKay