Maria (given name)

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Other names
Variant form(s)Mariah, Marie, Marija, Mariya
Related namesMary, Maryam, Miriam

Maria is a feminine given name. It is given in many languages influenced by Latin Christianity.

It has its origin as the feminine form of the Roman name Marius (see Maria gens),[1] and, after Christianity has spread across the Roman empire, it became the Latinised form of the name of Miriam: Mary, mother of Jesus.

Maria (Greek: Μαρία) is a form of the name used in the New Testament, standing alongside Mariam (Μαριάμ). It reflects the Syro-Aramaic name Maryam, which is in turn derived from the Biblical Hebrew name Miriam. As a result of their similarity and syncretism, the Latin original name Maria and the Hebrew-derived Maria combined to form a single name.

The name is also sometimes used as a male (middle) name. This was historically the case in many Central Europe countries and still is the case in countries with strong Catholic traditions, where it signified patronage of the Virgin Mary (French-speakers often did the same with Marie).

Variants and usage[edit]

Maria was a frequently given name in southern Europe even in the medieval period. In addition to the simple name, there arose a tradition of naming girls after specific titles of Mary, feast days associated with Mary and specific Marian apparitions (such as Maria de los Dolores, Maria del Pilar, Maria del Carmen etc., whence the derived given names of Dolores, Pilar, Carmen etc.). By contrast, in northern Europe the name only rose to popularity after the Reformation.[2]

Because the name is so frequent in Christian tradition, a tradition of giving compound names has developed, with a number of such compounds themselves becoming very popular. Examples, among numerous others, include:

As a feminine given name, Maria ranked 109th in the United States as of 2015, down from rank 31 held during 1973–1975.[3]

Spelling variants of Maria include: Mária (Hungarian, Slovakian), María (Greek, Icelandic, Spanish), Máire and Muire (Irish), Marya and Marija (transliterated from Cyrillic), Maria (Polish). Due to a very strong devotion of Irish and Polish Catholics to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a special exception is made for two other forms of her name – Muire and Maryja: no one else may take that name, similar to the way the name Jesus is not used in most languages. The English form Mary is derived via French Marie.

A great number of hypocoristic forms are in use in numerous languages. Cyrillic Maryam and Miriam have numerous variants, such as

  • Mariami (Georgian)
  • Mariamma, biblical Mariamme, Mariamne
  • Məryəm (Azerbaijani)
  • Meryem (Kurdish, Turkish)
  • Myriam (French)

The spelling in Semitic abjads is mrym: Aramaic ܡܪܝܡ, Hebrew מרים, Arabic مريم.

Cyrillic has Марыя (Marýja) (Belarusian), Марија (Marija) (Serbian), and Мария (Maríja) (Russian, Bulgarian).

Georgian uses მარიამ (Mariam) and მარია (Maria); Armenian has Մարիամ (Mariam).

Chinese has adopted the spelling 瑪麗 (simplified 玛丽, pinyin Mǎlì).

The variant Mariah (usually pronounced /məˈrə/) was rarely given in the United States prior to the 1990s, when it bounced in popularity, from rank 562 in 1989 to rank 62 in 1998, in imitation of the name of singer Mariah Carey (whose Vision of Love topped the charts in 1990).

Masculine name[edit]

Maria is used as a part of masculine given names in Hispanic and Roman Catholic tradition.



Fictional characters[edit]

  • Maria, a fictional character played by Laura Nicole in the British web series Corner Shop Show
  • Maria, the youngest princess of Macedon in the Fire Emblem video game series.
  • Maria (West Side Story), the main female protagonist from the musical West Side Story
  • Maria Jackson, a character from The Sarah Jane Adventures
  • Maria Renard, a character in the Castlevania video game series
  • Maria Robotnik, a character in the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series
  • Maria von Trapp, the main female protagonist from the musical The Sound of Music
  • Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower, a boss character from The Old Hunters DLC for the video game Bloodborne
  • Maria Calavera, a supporting character in the animated web series RWBY
  • Maria Fritz, the daughter of Ymir Fritz, namesake of Wall Maria and a minor character in the anime and manga Attack on Titan
  • Maria Wong, a character from the Canadian animated television series Braceface

Male (as part of a compound name or as a middle name)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ p. 206.
  3. ^; the English form Mary was at rank 214 as of 2015, after a much steeper decline down from being raked first consistently during 1880–1968. [1]
  4. ^ Lavagetto Ceschi, Paola (1973). Callani, Gaetano from Biographical Dictionary of Italians - Volume 16. Treccani.