Mary Name Meaning & Origin


Pronunciation: MAY-ree, MA-ree (key)

Origin of the name Mary:

Anglicized form of Maria, which is derived from the Hebrew Miryām (sea of bitterness, sea of sorrow). There is much debate over the meaning of the name, however. While "sea of bitterness or sorrow" seems to be the most probable, some sources give the alternative definitions of "rebellion," "wished-for child," and "mistress or lady of the sea." The name, borne in the Bible by the virgin mother of Jesus, has become one of the most enduringly popular names in the Christian world.

From A World of Baby Names by Teresa Norman.

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US Popularity of Mary Over Time

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Comments and insights on the name Mary

I am 32 & my given name is Mary (actually, Mary Kathryn) but I've been called Katie since birth. I have always detested the name Mary & perceived it as overly religious-sounding, traditional, & dull. I remember my friends gently teasing & calling me "Sister Mary Kathryn". I realize now that part of my intense dislike for Mary has to do with being referred to by a name that didn't feel like my own on first days of school, on paperwork, in legal situations, etc. Maybe it's not as bad as I think, but my negative perception of the name remains. I'll gladly stick with Katie (which I think sounds cute, friendly, sweet, & relatable.)

Mary is a classic, long-time used, biblical, gorgeous name for a baby girl. Pronounced Mare-e.

I am 31, and my name is Mary. I love it. It is not as common as it once was, and that makes it fresh and special. It is classic and beautiful and friendly, and I am thrilled my parents chose to name me after my grandmother.

Mary is a cute name for a girl in all stages of life. I prefer it alone than if paired with a middle name because it's become increasingly uncommon, and so it's a pleasant surprise.

Mary is a name that sounds classic and cute.

Mary and Myra are anagrams of each other; they contain the same letters.

Some think of Mary as an old-fashioned name, but it's actually quite cute. Can imagine any female of any age with this name. It also has the nickname Polly, which is pretty.

Personal experiences with the name Mary

Mary is the name of one of my great friends. She is very young, and no one, not her, not her sisters, not her brother, not her friends -- have EVER thought that her name sounds too "old". Just because this is a well-used (and well-loved) name that has been around for centuries does not mean that it is "old". That to me is a ridiculous statement. I think that this name is beautiful.

Mary is my mother's name. I love her greatly. In fact, her name (middle paired with it) is actually Mary Jane. I love the name, it's beautiful. It is also my grandmother's name, who of course, I love very greatly too. It is just a brilliant name.

I'm 27, and my name is Mary. I've always loved my name, and throughout my life, I've had frequent compliments. It's a name that has been around since Biblical times, and so there's no fear of it becoming outdated or out of style. No complaints here!

I'm a 28 year-old Mary, and I too have always loved my name. It's a very comfortable and agreeable name, looks pretty written, and is easy to pronounce and spell. I've never wished it to be different. Most people just call me 'Mary', but sometimes my family or other familiar people call me 'Mare', which I think is cute.

We had a good family friend named Mary, until she died of cancer. She was very kind and is missed greatly.

Another 27 year old Mary here. While I appreciate being named after a family member, as a child I was irritated by the name. Imagine YEARS of: "Where's your lamb, Mary?!" "How's your garden, Mary?!" "Mary, Mary, quite contrary!" I always wished my mother had gone with her second choice of Elizabeth. I'm considering naming my future daughter Elisabeth.

Then there was "Mary had a little lamb, the doctor fainted!"

Then there was "They said it couldn't be done - they said nobody could do it - BUT - Mary had a little lamb..."

My grandmother's name was Mary-Anne. She was a beautiful, kind-hearted, free-spirited woman all the way to her death in 2008, when she was 79. I have many great memories of her from when I was a little girl. I loved her very much, and I gave my second daughter, who was born a year following her death, the middle name of Marianne in her honor.

Nicknames for Mary

May, Molly, Polly, Mare, Mare Mare, Mare Bear, Mary Fairy, Hairy Mary

Meanings and history of the name Mary

Mary is a feminine given name, the English form of the name Maria, which was in turn a Latin form of the Greek names Mariam, and/or Maria, found in the New Testament. Both New Testament names were forms of the Hebrew name Miryam.

The usual meaning given by various sources for the name is the Hebrew "bitterness." Other meanings suggested include "sea of bitterness," "rebelliousness," or "wished for child" or "Our Lady" or "beloved lady," referring to the Christian reverence for the Virgin Mary. The Web site Behind the Name notes that the name could also be a name of Egyptian origin, perhaps from the word elements mry, meaning "beloved" or mr, meaning "love."

The name was also considered in the Middle Ages to be connected to the sea and the word mare, as in the term Stella Maris, or "star of the sea," an epithet for the Virgin Mary.The name has been widely used due to its associations with the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, and with Saint Mary Magdalene, who was called an apostle to the Apostles. It was viewed as too holy a name for use in Celtic communities until toward the end of the 1400s, though other forms of the name were used.The name María, in combination with other names or with titles of the Virgin Mary, has been the most popular in Spanish-speaking countries, much as Marie was popular in combination with other names in French-speaking countries and Mary was popular in combination with other names in English-speaking countries. Though Mary and Marie were the most common forms of the name in English-speaking countries, the name Maria was also in use in England, where it was often given the aristocratic pronunciation of mah righ' ah prior to the 20th century and inspired the alternate spelling Mariah.Mariam or Maryam, an Arabic form, has been a popular name in predominantly Muslim countries due to the respect given to Mary, mother of Jesus, in Islam. Muslim parents want their daughters to be like Mary in her "chastity and demureness," according to a 2006 article.Miriam, a Hebrew form of the name, has remained well-used among Jews because of the Biblical prophetess Miriam, sister of Moses. Miriam is also in use worldwide among Christians.

Mary was the most popular name for girls in the United States until the 1960s and is still ranked in the top 100 names for girls, though it ranks behind other forms of the name. Maria was the 54th most popular name for girls born in the United States in 2007; Mariah was the 92nd most popular name for girls born there in 2007 and Mary was the 93rd most popular name for American girls in 2007. Short form Molly was the 97th most popular name for American girls.The name Mary remains more popular in the Southern United States than elsewhere in the country. Mary was the 15th most popular name for girls born in Alabama in 2007; the 22nd most popular name for girls born in Mississippi in 2007; the 44th most popular name for girls in North Carolina; the 33rd most popular name for girls in South Carolina; the 26th most popular name for girls in Tennessee. Mary was the most common name for women and girls in the United States in the 1990 census.It is also still among the top 100 names for baby girls born in Ireland.Mary was the 179th most popular name for girls born in England and Wales in 2007, ranking behind other versions of the name. Molly, a short form, was ranked as the 29th most popular name there and spelling variant Mollie at No. 107; Maria was ranked at No. 93; Maryam was ranked at No. 116.

I like Mariah and Molly the best of the Mary derivitives. Maria is also very beautiful, but it sounds too Spanish, which I am not. Molly is too common nowadays, and often used for dogs. So I would definitely use Mariah.

"myrrh", "drop of the sea", "mistress of the sea", "well-nourished"

Famous real-life people named Mary

Typhoid Mary, the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever. She was presumed to have infected some 53 people, three of whom died, over the course of her career as a cook.

Mary McCartney, daughter of Paul McCartney of the Beatles and Linda McCartney
Mary Lou Retton, US Gymnast- Olympic all-around Champion (Gold Medallist)
Mary J. Blige, singer
Mary Cassatt, painter
Mary Tyler Moore, actress
Mary Shelley, "Frankenstein" author
Mary Travers of singing group Peter, Paul and Mary
Mary I Tudor, Queen of England ("Bloody Mary")
Mary II, Queen of England ("William and Mary")
Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Bryant, Australian penal colony escapee
Mary Cassatt, American painter
Mary Louise Hancock, American politician and activist
Mary Hopkin, Welsh singer-songwriter
Mary Quant, English fashion designer
Mary Whitehouse, English morality campaigner
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, American actress
Mary Spender, English singer/songwriter
Mary Harney, Irish politician
Mary Black, folk singer
Mary Coughlan, Irish jazz singer
Mary Lavin, writer
Mary Robinson, seventh president of the Irish Republic
Mary Mac.Aleese, eigth president of the Irish Republic
Mary Pickford, actress
Mary Martin, actress
Mary Elizabeth, Crown Princess of Denmark
Mary of Teck, the Queen Consort of George V of the United Kingdom
Mary Louise Parker, actress
Mary Wollstonecraft, author of "A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Mary Abigail Wambach. US Women's National Soccer Player
Mary Kay Bergman, an american voice actress

Mary in song, story & screen

New Testament figure, virgin mother of Jesus Christ
Mary Ann from TV series "Gilligan's Island"
"Proud Mary", song by Credence Clearwater Revival, covered by Ike & Tina Turner
Title character in film "There's Something about Mary"
"Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How does your garden grow?", nursery rhyme.
Dr. Mary Albright a character from the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Bloody Mary (South Pacific), character from the musical and film South Pacific
Bloody Mary (comics), New God of Apokolips in the DC Comics universe
Bloody Mary (folklore), a ghost
Mary Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood, character in Shirley Jackson's novel "We Have Always Lived in the Castle"
Lady Mary Crawley, character in TV series "Downton Abbey"
Mary Poppins, a character in the Mary Poppins books, film, and musical
Mary Katherine Gallagher, a Saturday Night Live character created by Molly Shannon
Mary Kenwood (Merrie Kenwood) a.k.a. Wedy of Death Note
Mary Alice Cullen, character in the "Twilight" series
Mary Bennett, middle Bennett sister in the Jane Austen book "Pride and Prejuidice"
Mary Jane Watson, Marvel comic character from Spider-Man
Mary Batson, Captain Marvel's sister, who transforms into Mary Marvel, world's mightiest girl, with the magic word, Shazam.
Mary from the Nativity Story
Mary Lisbon (The Virgin Suicides)
"Mother Mary", song by Foxboro Hot Tub
Mother Mary mentioned in the Beatles song, "Let It Be"
Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White), character in "Once Upon A Time"
Mary Winchester (nee Campbell), from CW's 'Supernatural', played by Samantha Smith (older) and Amy Gumenick (younger)
Mary Alice Crosswire, monkey girl from Arthur; she goes by Muffy.
Mary(nee Morstan) Watson, wife of Dr.John Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories
Mary Anne Spier, character in The Baby-Sitters Club
Mary Edwards, the name of Samantha's grandmother in the American Girl Samantha books
Mary "Polly" Pepper, eldest daughter in Five Little Peppers by Margaret Sidney
Mary Zero from Marvel comics
Mary Flore (The Wedding Planner) portrayed by Jennifer Lopez
Mary Santiago, from the movie "Another Cinderella Story"

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