Biblical name (meaning ‘watchful’ in Hebrew), borne by a character mentioned very briefly in the Bible, one of the chief officers of King David (2 Samuel 20:26). It was taken up by the Puritans in the 17th century, and is still occasionally used, mainly in the United States. It was famously borne by the lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896–1983).
Jewish (from Belarus, Lithuania, and northeastern Poland): from the female personal name Margolis, meaning ‘pearls’ in Hebrew. The Hebrew word is ultimately of Greek origin, as in Greek margaron, margaritēs ‘pearl’ (see Margetts).