Louis-Marie Flambeau wrote:
'Maccabee' was a title, not a formal name, after the first generation passed, the second and later generations of Maccabees were not actually blood relations of Judah and his four brothers....
what did the title signify?
It was originally a nickname of Judas Maccabee, there are several competing theories as to what the nickname meant....
One explanation is that it originated from the Aramaic word for 'hammer', so it would literally be 'Judas the Hammer' and was an honorific based on his ferocity in battle.
Another theory is that it is derived from the battle cry used by Judas and his brothers '"Mi chamocha ba'elim YHWH",' or roughly Who is like You among the mighty, O Lord!"
Another theory is that it is a corruption of "Machbanai" who was a commando in the army of King David.
It became a kind of title (like 'Caesar' among the Romans) to represent the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled the kingdom of Judah from 140 BC to the establishment of the Herodian dynasty in 37 BC.