Meaning of name "Mary"


I read one meaning (possibly speculation) of the name “Mary” is “disobedience” coming from the Hebrew “Mara.” Another is “sea of bitterness.”

If names and their meanings were very important back then, why would she be named that?


I’ve read those claims, but it seems that the root is more likely Egyptian with the meaning “beloved” or “love”.


Her name was either Miriam or Mara. Mara means “bitter” and Miriam means “princess,” as I recall. Anyway, the bitter reference is to the substance they used to make incense, myrrh, which in its raw state is bitter, but when burned is sweet. So, it is in reference to the incense that was burned before the altar in the temple–a very apt typology for the Mother of Sorrows, wouldn’t you say? :slight_smile:


This page goes into quite a bit of depth:




Probably because Moses’ sister was named Miriam. :wink: The phenomenon of naming kids after famous people isn’t really new, plus there wasn’t very many ‘proper’ names to choose from. It’s the idea of inventing new names or naming kids after stuff like cities or cars or some noun that’s fairly recent - so there wasn’t really a large pool of names to choose from.

I’d like to use an analogy. Even here in modern Japan, naming customs are still quite traditional - not too many people bother with inventing new names. As a result you’re probably gonna run into more people who have similar first names than you will do in, say, over there in America.


Commentary on Mary’s name from the Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary:

Ver. 27. The word Miriam, or Mary, is expounded by St. Jerome from different etymologies, to signify in Hebrew, star of the sea, and in Chaldaic, lady. Both interpretations admirably well agree with her, who is the glorious Queen of heaven, our patroness and star, to direct us in the stormy ocean of this world. — “O you,” cries out St. Bernard, “who find yourselves tossed to and fro in this tempestuous life, turn not your eyes away from the brightness of this star, if you would not be overwhelmed in these storms. If the winds of temptations arise; if you fall among the rocks of tribulation; look up to the star, call upon Mary. If you are agitated, and hard driven with the surges of pride, ambition, detraction, jealously, or envy; look up to the star, call upon Mary. If anger, covetousness, or lust, beat furiously on the vessel of your soul; look up to the star, call upon Mary. If you are beginning to founder, and are just sinking into the gulf of melancholy and despair; think on Mary. In dangers, in distresses, in perplexities, think on Mary, call on Mary. Let her name be never absent from your mouth; from your mouth let it constantly descend into your heart; and, that you may obtain the suffrage of her prayers; both in life and death, never depart from the example of her pious conversation.” (St. Bernard, hom. ii. super Missus est.)


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