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Meaning & Origins

Latin form of Mary. It arose as a back-formation from the early Christian female name Mariam, which was taken as a Latin accusative case. In fact, however, it is an indeclinable Aramaic alternative form of the Hebrew name Miriam. In the English-speaking world Maria is a learned revival dating from the 18th century, pronounced both ‘ma-ree-a’ and, more traditionally, ‘ma-rye-a’. This form of the name is also in common use in most European languages, either as the main local form of the name, as in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Polish, and Czech, or as a learned doublet of a vernacular form. In Spain not only is the name María itself enormously common, but a large number of Marian epithets and words associated with the cult of the Virgin are also used as female given names. Maria is also used as a male name in combinations such as Gianmaria (Italian) and José María (Spanish).
15th in the U.S.
Spanish (García) and Portuguese: from a medieval personal name of uncertain origin. It is normally found in medieval records in the Latin form Garsea, and may well be of pre-Roman origin, perhaps akin to Basque (h)artz ‘bear’.
10th in the U.S.

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