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Molly Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Molly Overview

  • Meaning: Molly is a diminutive of Mary, meaning “beloved” and “star of the sea.” It also means “bitter” and “beloved” in Hebrew and “wished-for” in Gaelic. Molly can mean “keyring” in Welsh, “woman of Magdala” in English, and “rebellion” in Hebrew.
  • Gender: Molly is a girl’s name and is not used for boys.
  • Origin: Molly is associated with Mary, but is linked to the medieval Malle and Molle. It dates back to the Hebrew Myriam as it was a nickname for Margaret and Martha in the 18th-century. Molly is often used as a stand-alone name in the modern world.
  • Pronunciation: Molly is pronounced “MAH-Lee” in English.
  • Popularity: Molly has ranked in the top 500 U.S. girls’ names since 1880 and typically appears in the top 100 names. Molly is also a top 100 girls’ name in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, and the U.K.
  • Nicknames: Em, Emmy, Lee, M, May, Mo, Mol, Mols, Momo, Ollie.
  • Variations: Maille, Mali, Mallaidh, Mallie, Mally, Moli, Molie, Moll, Molle, Mollea, Mollee, Mollett, Molley, Molli, Mollie, Mollison.
  • Namesakes: Molly Ringwald, American actress known for “The Breakfast Club” (1985). Molly White, American member of the Texas House of Representatives.

What Does Molly Mean?

Molly is an English and Irish name that functions as a diminutive of Mary, meaning “beloved” and “star of the sea.” Like Mary, it also means “bitter” and “beloved” in Hebrew. In Gaelic, Molly means “of the sea” or “wished-for,” while it means “key ring” in Welsh.

Molly’s other meanings include “woman of Magdala,” which is a short form of Magdalene in English and means “rebellion” in Hebrew.

What Is the Origin of the Name Molly?

While Molly has been linked to Mary as a diminutive used since the Middle Ages, it’s also associated with the medieval Malle and Molle. Other similar names it replaced include Moll, Mollett, and Mollison. Molly dates back to the Hebrew Myriam, the original form of Mary used in the Bible.

In the English-speaking world, Molly became more popular as a stand-alone name, especially in the U.S. In the 18th-century, it was also used as a nickname for Margaret, meaning “pearl,” and Martha, meaning “mistress.” No matter how common Molly is, it will always be most associated with the classic Mary, meaning “beloved.”

How Popular Is the Name Molly?

Since 1880, Molly has ranked in the top 500 U.S. girls’ names. It mainly ranked in the top 100 names for many years between 1987 and 2012. Since the 1990s, Molly has been a top 100 girls’ name in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK.

Molly became a popular American name for girls in the 19th-century due to Irish and Jewish-American immigrants. It was seen as a variation on the Hebrew names Miriam and Malka. In early U.S. history, the American revolutionary Molly Pitcher caused the name to become more sought-after.

In the U.S., Molly fell out of the top 100 in 2013 and currently ranks somewhere between 150th and 170th. It peaked in the U.S. several times in 1991, 2011, and 2018.

How Do I Pronounce Molly?

Molly is pronounced “MAH-Lee” in English.

Is Molly a Boy or Girl Name?

Molly is traditionally a girl’s name and is not typically used for boys.

Variations of Molly

Find some of the cutest variations for Molly used throughout history.

  • Maille (Gaelic)
  • Mali (Welsh)
  • Mallaidh (Gaelic)
  • Mallie (Welsh)
  • Mally (Latin)
  • Moli (French)
  • Molie (Latin)
  • Moll (English)
  • Molle (French)
  • Mollea (Latin)
  • Mollee (English)
  • Mollett (English)
  • Molley (English)
  • Molli (English)
  • Mollie (English)
  • Mollison (English)

Nicknames for Molly

Head even further into shorter forms of Molly, itself a diminutive.

  • Em
  • Emmy
  • Lee
  • M
  • May
  • Mo
  • Mol
  • Mols
  • Momo
  • Ollie

Similar Names to Molly

These names feel and sound similar to Molly if you need other options.

Middle Names for Molly

Molly requires a unique middle name, which you’ll find plenty of here.

Sibling Names for Molly

Your Molly will love having a brother or sister with these beautiful names.

Famous People Named Molly

There have been some impressive famous people named Molly throughout history.

  • Molly Bang: American Illustrator.
  • Molly Brant: Mohawk figure during the American Revolution.
  • Margaret “The Unsinkable Molly” Brown: Titanic survivor.
  • Molly Burch: American musician.
  • Molly Carlson: Canadian high diver.
  • Molly Caudery: English pole vaulter.
  • Molly Dunsworth: Canadian actress.
  • Molly Engstrom: American ice hockey player.
  • Mollie Hardwick: English author.
  • Mollie Hunter: Scottish writer.
  • Molly Johnson: Canadian singer and songwriter.
  • Molly McGlynn: Canadian film director.
  • Molly McKenna: English trampoline gymnast.
  • Molly Nyman: British composer
  • Molly Parkin: Welsh painter.
  • Molly Sandén: Swedish singer.
  • Molly Shannon: American comic actress.
  • Molly Tuttle: American singer.
  • Molly White: American Wikipedia editor.
  • Molly Wood: American executive editor.

Molly in Popular Culture

There are interesting occurrences of Molly in songs, stories, and entertainment.

  • Molly: Another name for Lady Emily Lenox in Charles Finch’s mysteries.
  • Molly: Character from the 1982 film “Annie.”
  • Molly: Character from the series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
  • Molly Bloom: Wife of Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s “Ulysses” novel.
  • Molly Davis: Character in the animated series “Toy Story.”
  • Molly Fitzgerald: Alter ego of the Marvel Comics superhero Shamrock.
  • Molly Flynn-Biggs: Character from the sitcom “Mike & Molly.”
  • Molly Gibson: Character in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel “Wives and Daughters.”
  • Molly Goldberg: Character from “The Goldbergs” series.
  • Molly McIntire: Character in the “American Girl” series.
  • Molly Millions: Character appearing in various William Gibson novels.
  • Molly Solverson: Lead character from the “Fargo” TV series.
  • Molly the Goldfish Fairy: Character in the “Rainbow Magic” children’s book franchise.
  • Molly Weasley: Character appearing in the “Harry Potter” franchise.
  • Molly Williams: Character in the children’s series “My Little Pony.”

Molly FAQs

You can unearth more aspects of the girl’s name, Molly, here.

Is Molly a Biblical Name?

Molly is thought of as an English variation of the Latin Maria, which derives from the Hebrew Mariam or Miriam. Miriam appears in Greek in the Bible, where it means “rebellious.” Molly also occurred in ancient Egypt, where it was made up of “commr,” meaning “love” or “mry,” meaning “beloved.”

What Is Molly in Scottish?

While Molly is regarded more as an Irish-Gaelic variation of Mary, it also has origins in Scottish Gaelic. The most traditional Scottish form of Molly was Moireach, a form of Martha. Another version of Mary was Muire, while Muireall was the equivalent of Marion. The Anglo Muriel is also linked to Molly and Muireal. The lesser-known Màili is also a Scottish-Gaelic form of Mary.

Why Is Molly Such a Popular Dog Name?

While Molly is considered a somewhat popular girl’s name, Molly happens to be one of the most popular female dog names. Only Charlie has proved more popular in the history of naming adorable puppies. It’s fitting as a pet name since it traces back to the Latin “mollis,” meaning “soft.”

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About the Author

Maryana Vestic

Maryana Vestic is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and food photographer with a background in entertainment Business Affairs. She studied film at NYU, Irish Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School. She loves cooking, baking, hiking, and horror films, as well as running a local baking business in Brooklyn with her boyfriend.