Miriam (Hebrew: מִרְיָם, Modern Miryam, Tiberian Miryām) is a feminine given name recorded in Biblical Hebrew, recorded in the Book of Exodus as the name of the sister of Moses, the prophetess Miriam.
Spelling variants include French Myriam, German Mirjam, Mirijam; hypocoristic forms include Mira, Miri and Mimi (commonly given in Israel).
The name's etymology is unclear. Since many Levite names are of Egyptian origin, the name could come from the Egyptian mr "love", as in the Egyptian names mry.t-jmn (Merit-Amun) "beloved of Amun" and mry.t-rꜥ (Merytre) "beloved of Ra".
A Judeo-Aramaic variant of this name, Maryām (Μαριάμ) is recorded in the New Testament as the name of several women, including Mary, mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Variants of this name include Greek and Latin Maria, whence French Marie and English Mary.
[Mary], mother of the [Jesus] of the New Testament, bore a Judeo-Aramaic variant of this name, Maryām (מרים). In the New Testament of the Bible, written in Greek, her name is transliterated Mariam (Μαριάμ) or Maria. Several other women in the New Testament, including St. Mary Magdalene, are called by the same name.
In antiquity, it was variously etymologized as "rebellion", "bitter sea", "strong waters", "mistress", "exalted one", "ruling one", "wished for child", or "beautiful".
St. Jerome (writing c. 390), following Eusebius of Caesarea, translates the name as "drop of the sea" (stilla maris in Latin), from Hebrew מר mar "drop" (cf. Isaias 40:15) and ים yam "sea". This translation was subsequently rendered stella maris ("star of the sea") due to scribal error or as a result of 3rd century vowel shifts, whence our Lady's title Star of the Sea.
Alternatively, the name can be interpreted "star of the sea" if taken as a contracted form of the Hebrew מאור ma'or "star" (lit. "luminary") plus ים yam "sea", yet this "strikes as a very free interpretation".
Rashi, an 11th-century Jewish commentator on the Bible, wrote that the name was given to the sister of Moses because of the Egyptians' harsh treatment of Jews in Egypt. Rashi wrote that the Israelites lived in Egypt for two hundred ten years, including eighty-six years of cruel enslavement that began at the time Moses' elder sister was born. Therefore, the girl was called Miriam, because the Egyptians made life bitter (מַר, mar) for her people.
Because of Mary's great religious significance, variants of her name are often given to girl children in both the Western and Arab worlds. In the Quran, Mary's name assumed the Arabic form Maryam (مريم), which has also passed into other languages. The Greek variant Maria passed into Latin and from thence into many modern European languages.
Notable people named Miriam
- Miriam Ben-Porat (1918–2012), Israeli judge and state comptroller
- Miriam Cani (born 1985), Albanian singer
- Miriam Flynn (born 1952), American voice artist and character actress
- Miriam Gallardo (born 1968), Peruvian volleyball player
- Miriam Goldberg (born 1916), American newspaper publisher and editor
- Miriam Gonzalez (born 1977), Playboy playmate
- Miriam Hodgson (1938–2005), British editor of children's books
- Miriam Israeli (born 1966), American-Israeli singer and lyricist
- Miriam Kara (born 1938), Israeli Olympic gymnast
- Miriam Leslie (1828–1914), American author, publisher, woman suffrage advocate, and philanthropist
- Miriam Makeba (born 1932), South African singer and activist
- Miriam Margolyes (born 1941), British actress
- Miriam McDonald (born 1987) Canadian actress, star of Degrassi: The Next Generation
- Miriam O'Callaghan (media personality) (born 1960), Irish television presenter
- Miriam Pirazzini (born 1918), Italian singer
- Miriam Ramón (born 1973), Ecuadorian racewalker
- Miriam Roth (1910–2005), Israeli educationist
- Miriam Defensor Santiago (1945–2016), Senator in the Philippines
- Miriam Shaviv (born 1976), literary editor of the Jerusalem Post
- Miriam Siderenski (born 1941), Israeli Olympic runner
- Miriam Stockley (born 1962), English South African-born singer
- Miriam Stoppard (born 1937), British physician, author, television presenter, and agony aunt
- Miriam Toews (born 1964), Canadian author
- Miriam Weeks (born 1995), pseudonym Belle Knox, American former pornographic actress
- Miriam Yalan-Shteklis (1900–84), Israeli writer and poet
Notable people named Myriam
The letter y in the transliteration Miryam represents the palatal glide /j/. The metathesized spelling Myriam has also gained some currency, especially in France, alongside Miriam and Miryam.
The name of Israeli or Lebanese people called "Miriam" may be transliterated Miryam or Myriam depending on whether the context of the transliteration is French or English.
- Myriam Abel or Myriam Morea (born1981), French singer of Algerian descent
- Myriam Baverel (born 1981), French martial artist
- Myriam Bédard (born 1969), retired Canadian athlete
- Myriam Bru (born 1930), French actress
- Myriam Birger (born 1951), French pianist
- Myriam Boileau (born 1977), Canadian diver
- Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi (born 1961), French canoeist
- Myriam Glez (born 1980), French swimmer
- Myriam Korfanty (born 1978), French handball player
- Myriam Lignot (born 1975), French synchronized swimmer
- Myriam Léonie Mani (born 1977), Cameroonian athlete
- Myriam Merlet (c. 1957–2010), Haitian political activist
- Myriam Muller (born 1971), Luxembourgian actress
- Myriam Sirois (born 1975), Canadian actress
- Myriam Soumaré (born 1986), French athlete
- Myriam Casanova (born 1985), Swiss tennis player
- Myriam Montemayor Cruz (born 1981), Mexican pop star known as "Myriam"
- Myriam Fares (ميريام فارس born 1983), Lebanese singer
- Myriam Flühmann (born 1986), Swiss figure skater
- Myriam Hernández (born 1967), Chilean singer-songwriter and television presenter
- Myriam Leuenberger (born 1987), Swiss figure skater
- Myriam Marbe (1931–1997), Romanian composer and pianist
- Myriam Moscona (born 1955), Mexican journalist
- Myriam Palacios (1936–2013), Chilean actress and comedian
- Myriam Sarachik (born 1933), Belgian physicist
- Myriam Shehab (ميريام شهاب, born 1982), Lebanese singer
- Myriam Vanlerberghe (born 1961), Belgian politician
- Myriam Yardeni (born 1932), Romanian-born Israeli historian
- ^ Dan Isaac Slobin, The Crosslinguistic Study of Language Acquisition, p.342
- ^ a b c "Though the meaning of Mary as derived from the Egyptian Mery, Meryt (cherished, beloved), is most suitable for an only daughter, such a derivation is only possible, or at best barely probable." A. Maas, "The Name of Mary", The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912)
- ^ "Jerome (4th century AD) suggested relations with the word מאור (ma'or), meaning star, from the verb אור ('or), to be light or shine. Combined with the word ימ (yam), sea, the name Miriam would translate to Stella Maris (star of the sea), but that strikes as a very free interpretation.", "Meaning, origin and etymology of the name Miriam", Abarim Publications
- ^ Rashi. "Commentary on Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs)". p. 2:13. "From the time that Miriam was born, the Egyptians intensified the bondage upon Israel; therefore, she was called Miriam, because they made it bitter (מַר) for them."