Miriam: Meaning, Popularity, Origin of Baby Name Miriam

Miriam

Pronunciation: MEE-ree-əm (key)

Origin of the name Miriam:

Hebrew name of debated meaning. Many believe it to mean "sea of bitterness" or "sea of sorrow." However, some sources cite the alternative definitions of "rebellion," "wished-for child," and "mistress or lady of the sea." The name is borne in the Bible by the sister of Moses and Aaron. After the Exodus, she came to be known as a prophetess to the people.

From A World of Baby Names by Teresa Norman.

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US Popularity of Miriam Over Time

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Comments and insights on the name Miriam: | Edit

This is my 2 year old niece's name. We call her Miri.

Miriam is my given name...as a young child I didn't have any Miriam-related nicknames, just the cutsie names your family calls you that don't count....but once I was in middle school my friends turned it into Miriyum, yum, yum yum, yummy and I had a friend that called me Mimi for a semester. None of those stuck - thankfully. Now at 32 - just Miriam. I wish I had known about Miri though. I like it :) is it too late for a nickname to catch on? ;)

Personal experiences with the name Miriam: | Edit

The only Miriam I know is extremely beautiful!

Nicknames for Miriam: | Edit

Mira, Mimi, Miri, Mim, Mitzie
Mim, Miz, Mij, Mimi, Pip

Meanings and history of the name Miriam: | Edit

Very interesting that some of the Miriam meanings have actually referred to other Hebrew females in a similar way...Mara means "bitter", although that was Naomi's sarcastic joke when referring to the enormous loss of her husband and three sons as well as the possibility of starving to death. "Sea of Sorrow" is similar to Rachel's original choice of the name Ben-oni (son of my sorrow), who Jacob renamed Benjamin (right hand man)after she passed away, doing away with the negative energy altogether and keeping it close enough to make it a joint decision. Hebrew names always interested me as I have two (Deborah Elizabeth) myself.

"What's in a name?" - Shakespeare's young Romeo may have waxed philosophical on how little her name mattered to him because he loved her, but I feel that even though we did not choose them ourselves they usually say a whole LOT about the person who wears them. And to think I might have been Sarah had my Aunt not named my cousin a few months before I was born.

My name is Miriam and I have always heard "sea of bitterness"....ugh! I hated that." But then I heard "songbird" because apparently, before Miriam let Moses float away in the Nile, she sang to her little baby brother to comfort him. I like that way better!

Miriam sounds rare, sweet and exotic! However, according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the original Hebrew literally means "bitter" or "rebellious." But that doesn't seem to affect it's popularity in the Middle East. Bear in mind that Miriam's parents were slaves, and the name they chose for their baby was probably less an oman of her personal character and more a reflection of their own attitude at that time. Miriam (despite her bout with leprosy) was a devoted sister, a worship leader and a prophetess. Most people are ignorant of the fact that Mary is merely the Greek version of Miriam and shares the same meaning. In light of which, it really is a distinguished name for a woman! (That goes for all you Mollies, too.)

Famous real-life people named Miriam: | Edit

Miriam Hopkins, American actress
Miriam Margolyes, English actress
Miriam Leslie, American author
Miriam Makeba "Mama Africa", South African singer and civil rights activist.

Miriam in song, story & screen: | Edit

Miriam ben Mordecai in The Roman Mysteries
Miriam Blaylock in 1983 movie The Hunger
Miriam Leveirs in D.H. Lawrence's novel Sons and Lovers
Miriam, the kleptomaniac mother in Bee Season
Miriam "Miri" Linky, one of the title characters of Kevin Smith's film "Zack & Miri Make a Porno"
"Miriam", a song by Norah Jones

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