The name was borne by six characters in the New Testament of the Bible, most notably Mary the mother of Jesus; to the Catholics she is known as the Virgin Mary. Other central figures in the Bible include Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha, who sat and listened to Jesus at her house, and Mary Magdalene, a devoted disciple of Jesus. Due to its biblical associations with the mother of Jesus, the name was borne by various early saints, although for the same reason the name was for a few centuries considered too holy to be used for secular naming purposes in some cultures.
It was later adopted across Europe from the medieval period; in the 16th century the popularity of the name dipped somewhat due to the Puritans' association of the name with Roman Catholicism, as well as the notoriety of Mary I of England (1516-1558), known also as Mary Tudor or Bloody Mary, who persecuted hundreds of religious dissenters. The name later saw a revival in the 17th century. The name was also borne by other members of royalty, inluding Mary II of England (1662-1694) and Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587). For Gaelic forms, the Irish Muire and the Scottish Moire are reserved only for the Virgin Mary, while other forms are available for naming purposes.
Mary is a widely used name; it has 254 variant transcriptions that are used in English and foreign languages. English variant transcriptions of the name include Lamara, Maaria, Maarja, Maeri, Maeron, Maeryn, Mahala, Mai (also used in Scandinavian), Maiju, Maili, Mair (also used in Gaelic and Welsh), Mairia, Mairona, Mal, Malia (also used in African, Hawaiian, Swahili, and Zuni), Mallaidh, Mame, Mara (also used in Hungarian and Slavic), Marabel, Marea, Mareah, Maree, Marella, Marelle, Maren (also used in Aramaic), Maretta, Marette, Maria (also used in Armenian, Basque, Catalan, Corsican, Czech, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Scandinavian, Slavic, and Spanish), Mariah, and Mariam (also used in Arabic). Other English forms include the familiar forms Mallie, Mamie, Mariel (also used in Dutch, German, and Scandinavian), Mariella (also used in Italian), Marietta (also used in Italian and French), Marika (also used in Czech, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, Scandinavian, and Slavic), Marilyn, Marinda, Marita (also used in Dutch, German, Spanish and Italian), May, Mia (also used in Dutch, German, and Scandinavian), Minnie (also used in Scottish), Mitzi (also used in German and), Mollie, Molly (also used in Irish), and Polly, and the spelling variants Marey, Mari (also used in Scandinavian, Breton, Finnish, Hungarian, Spanish, and Welsh), Merri, Merrie, and Merry.
Variation transcriptions used in foreign languages include Maaike (Dutch), Maarchje (Dutch), Maartje (Dutch), Macia (Polish), Maia (Basque), Maija (Finnish), Maijii (Finnish), Maika (German), Maiken (Frisian and German), Maikki (Finnish), Maira (Irish), Maire (Irish), Mairi (Irish and Scottish), Mairwen (Welsh), Mally (Irish), Manette (French), Manja (Russian), Manka (Polish and Russian), Manon (French), Maraike (German), Marca (Czech), Marcsa (Hungarian), Mare (Irish and Latvian), Mareeka (German), Marei (German), Mareike (German), Marenka (Czech), Mariamne (Hebrew), Maribella (Spanish), and Marica (Hungarian). Specific foreign variants include the familiar forms Maike (Frisian and German), Maj (Scandinavian), Maja (German, Polish, Scandinavian, and Slavic), Mania (Polish), Manya (Russian), Marieke (Dutch and German), Marijke (Dutch), Marike (Dutch), Mariquita (Spanish), Marisha (Russian), Maruja (Spanish), Marusia (Polish), Marzena (Polish), Masha (Russian and Ukrainian), Màireag (Scottish), Máirín (Irish), Micke (Dutch), Miep (Dutch), and My (Scandinavian).
Mary is an English variant transcription of Maria.
Mary is also an English variant transcription of Marie (Czech, English, French, and German). See also the related forms, Marieve, Marigold, Markeisha, Mary Kate, Mary Katherine, Mary Louise, Mary Margaret, Mary Sue, Maryellen, Maryjane, Maryvonne, Mór, Rosemary, Yamary, Mariano, and Miriam.
Mary is a classic favorite. Currently it is still popular as a baby girl name, but not as much as it was in the past. Its usage peaked in 1922 with 5.785% of baby girls being given the name Mary. It was #1 in rank then. The baby name has substantially fallen in popularity since then, and is now used on a modest scale. In 2012, its usage was only 0.132% and its ranking #123. Among the family of girl names directly linked to Mary, Mia was the most frequently used. In 2012, it was 5 times more frequently used than Mary.
† Pronunciation for Mary: M as in "me (M.IY)" ; AE as in "at (AE.T)" ; R as in "race (R.EY.S)" ; EH as in "ebb (EH.B)" ; IY as in "eat (IY.T)"
Details of famous persons named Mary:
Actress Mary Crosby, born 14 September 1959, Los Angeles, California.
Actress Bo Derek, born Mary Cathleen Collins 20 November 1956, Long Beach, California.
Actress Farrah Fawcett, born Mary Farrah Leni Fawcett 2 February 1947 - 25 June 2009, Corpus Christi, Texas.
Actress Mary Martin, born 1 December 1913 - 3 November 1990, Weatherford, Texas.
Actress Mary Tyler Moore, born 29 December 1936, Brooklyn, New York.
Actress Sissy Spacek, born Mary Elizabeth Spacek 25 December 1949, Quitman, Texas.
Actress Meryl Streep, born Mary Louise Streep 22 June 1949, Summit, New Jersey.
Actress Mary Pickford, born April 8, 1892 - May 29, 1979, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Actress Anissa Jones, born Mary Anissa Jones 11 March 1958 - 28 August 1976, West Lafayette, Indiana.
Actress Debbie Reynolds, born Mary Frances Reynolds April 1, 1932, El Paso, Texas.