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The forename Maurice is, properly, the descendant of a late Latin name mauritius, derived from the adjective mauricius, a diminutive of maurus 'moorish', 'north African', 'dark-skinned (or dusky)'. The name was used by an early Byzantine (East Roman) emperor who ruled from about 539 to 602. It is sometimes confused with the rather different name Morris, to which it is etymologically related, and of which, in traditional British RP, it is a homophone ('MORR-iss' IPA: /'mɒ rɪs/). In American English, it is often pronounced in an approximation of the French name, the homograph Maurice, with the accent on the second syllable, which has a long '-i-': 'morr-EECE', /mɒ 'riːs/. In other languages it is represented, inter alia, by Moritz (German), Maurizio (Italian) and Maurits (Dutch).

The name is that of a formerly popular Saint, Saint Maurice. He gave his name to the Swiss winter sports resort San Moritz and to the Italian town of Porto Maurizio.