Cunniff Family Genealogy Forum
The name comes from the Irish Mac Conduibh. Mac mean "son of" and demands that words following it appear in the possessive (genitive) case. Conduibh derives from con, which is the possessive form of cu (accent written over the u) meaning "hound;" duibh is the possessive form of dubh meaning "black." Thus the name means "black hound."
In some Irish dialects when two words come together as they do in conduibh, the second word may have the sound of its initial letters altered. One such alteration is called aspiration and denotes when an /h/sound is added to the beginning of a word and the loss of some other initial sound. In our surname, letter d of duibh sometimes in not sounded. This is why some of the anglicized versions are Cuniff and Kenniff. In many of the Connacht area dialects, the aspiration does not occur, the sound of letter d comes through, as in Mac Adoo and Mac Endoo.
The ending of duibh, bh is sometimes pronounced like /v/, which can be altered to /f/, sometimes like /w/, or sometimes dropped as in MacAdoo.
Name variation:Conniff, Cunniff, Cunniffe, Conniffe, Coniff, MacNiff, MacAddo, McAdoo, MacCunniffe, MacCuniff, MacEndo, MacEndoo, McNiff, McIndoo, MacIndoo and McNeff