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Maria Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Maria including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Maria Overview

  • Meaning: Maria has connotations with the sea and is said to mean “star of the sea,” “bitter sea,” or “wished for child.” Others associate Maria with older origins, which say the name means “beloved.”
  • Gender: Traditionally, Maria is a feminine name but has often been used as a masculine middle name.
  • Origin: Maria is of Latin origin and traces its roots to the Latin word “mare”. It also has links to the Hebrew name Miriam.
  • Pronunciation: Maria is commonly pronounced “MUH-REE-UH.”
  • Popularity: Maria is a popular name in many places around the world. In the United States, the name held the 109th spot in 2020.
  • Nicknames: Aria, Mar, Mia, Ria.
  • Variations: Mariah, Mariam, Marie, Marija, Mariya, Muire.
  • Namesakes: Maria I of Portugal (Queen of Portugal), Maria Shriver (American journalist), Maria von Trapp (Austrian-born American singer).

What Does Maria Mean?

The name Maria has different meanings depending on the origin. Most commonly, the name is associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ in Christian theology.

Maria is said to mean “star of the sea,” “rebellion,” “bitter sea,” and “drop of the sea.” Maria is also associated with the meaning “beloved” and “wished for child”.

What Is the Origin of the Name Maria?

The name Maria has multiple origins.

Maria has Latin roots and is considered the feminine form of the name Marius. Maria, in this context, is derived from the Latin word mare, which means sea. This origin might also have ties to the Roman god of war, Mars (1).

Maria also has shared origins with the Hebrew girl name Miriam. The Hebrew etymology of Miriam has ties with “bitter sea,” “strong waters,” “star of the sea,” “exalted one,” “wished for child,” and “beautiful.” These are all derived from the various interpretations of the Hebrew word.

As a form of Miriam, Maria may have even older Egyptian origins. Following the Egyptian etymology, this name’s origins mean “beloved” (2).

The Latin variant, Maria, became widely used with the spread of Christianity.

How Popular Is the Name Maria?

The name Maria has been very popular worldwide for a very long time. The origins of the name are ancient, but Maria was popularized during the spread of Christianity.

Maria is still a popular name today. In the United States, the name ranked 109th for newborn girls. It had been in the top 50 until 2007 (3).

How Do I Pronounce Maria?

Maria is typically pronounced “MUH-REE-UH.”

Is Maria a Boy or a Girl Name?

Maria, and its variants, have been used as a feminine name for centuries. However, Maria is also used as a masculine name as a boy’s middle name in many cases. This practice is prevalent in Roman Catholic tradition, especially among Hispanic people (4).

Variations of Maria

Maria has inspired many names because of its widespread popularity. Here are a few of the most frequently seen variations of Maria:

  • Mariah (English)
  • Mariam (Georgian)
  • Marie (Czech, French)
  • Marija (Cyrillic)
  • Mariya (Slavic)
  • Muire (Irish)

Nicknames for Maria

There are many nicknames for girls named Maria. Among the most common are:

  • Aria
  • Mar
  • Mia
  • Mimi
  • Ria

Similar Names to Maria

Since Maria has been such a popular name, many people compounded Maria with other names to differentiate between people named Maria. Some of the most similar include:

  • Annamaria
  • Guadalupe
  • Mabel
  • Madonna
  • Margarita
  • Margot
  • Marianne
  • Maria Theresa
  • Marina
  • Mary
  • Miriam

Middle Names for Maria

Maria lends itself quite well to many styles of middle names. Some of the most prominent favorites include:

Sibling Names for Maria

If your child is already named Maria, there are many great options for siblings’ names. Here are some that would be perfect to consider for a sibling:

For a brother:

For a sister:

Famous People Named Maria

Numerous famous people have been named Maria during its centuries of use. Among the most notable have been:

  • Maria I of Portugal: Queen of Portugal, also known as Maria the Pious.
  • Maria Bamford: American comedian and actress.
  • Maria Elena Bello: American actress, producer, and writer.
  • Maria Menounos: American journalist and television personality.
  • Maria Naganawa: Japanese voice actress.
  • Maria Sharapova: Russian tennis player.
  • Maria Shriver: American journalist.
  • Maria Theresa of Austria: Queen of Saxony.

Maria in Popular Culture

The name Maria has been widespread in popular culture. Here are some of the most significant pop culture icons with the name Maria:

  • Maria: One of the young lovers from the musical “Westside Story.”
  • Maria Kendall: Character in the British television show “Holby City.”
  • Maria Renard: Character from the “Castlevania” video game series.
  • Maria Robotnik: Character from “Sonic the Hedgehog” video game series.
  • Maria Von Trapp: Protagonist from the musical “The Sound of Music.” The character was based on the life of the real Maria Von Trapp.

Maria FAQs

Here are some additional questions we asked about Maria’s name and our answers.

What Does the Name Maria Mean in Islam?

An Arabic variation of the name Miriam, the origin of Maria, appears in the Quran. The name appears as Maryam and usually takes on the Egyptian origin to mean “beloved,” but shares the same meaning as other versions of the name.

Maria al-Qibtiyya appears in the Quran as the mother of the son of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (5).

Is the Name Maria Biblical?

The name Maria is derived from Miriam, a name used prevalently throughout the Bible. Maria is a name associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. In many translations of the Bible over the centuries, Mary and Maria have been used.

Does Maria Have a Spiritual Meaning?

For Christians, especially Catholics, the name is associated with the Virgin Mary. The association makes Maria an extremely spiritual name for many.

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