Gender: Female Meaning of Miriam: "drop of the sea, bitter, or beloved" Origin of Miriam: Hebrew or Egyptian Miriam's Popularity in 2019: #287

Miriam Origin and Meaning

The name Miriam is a girl's name of Hebrew origin meaning "drop of the sea, bitter, or beloved".

The oldest-known form of Mary, serious and solemn Miriam has been a particular favorite of observant Jewish parents. But we can see it extending beyond that sphere into the next wave of Old Testament names post-Rachel, Rebecca, Sarah, Hannah, and Leah. Miriam is currently the Number 1 girls' name in Israel.

Miriam is the Old Testament form of the Hebrew Maryam. The original meaning of Maryam is uncertain, but theories include "drop of the sea" (from Hebrew roots mar "drop" and yam "sea"); "bitter" (from Hebrew marah "bitterness"); and "beloved" (from the Egyptian root mr).

In the Old Testament, Miriam appears in Exodus as the older sister of Moses and Aaron, a prophetess who led the triumphal song and dance after the crossing of the Red Sea and deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians.

Miriam is an artistic character in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun and in Henry James's The Tragic Muse, Miriam Rooth is a talented young half-Jewish actress, Miriam Leviers is a farm girl in D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, and Miriam is the eponymous central character of a haunting Truman Capote short story.

One notable namesake is South African singer Miriam Makeba. More relaxed nicknames: Miri, Mira, and Mimi.

16 names similar to Miriam

These 16 names were selected by our users that were looking for other names like Miriam. If you didn't find an alternative name that you like better than Miriam, try our name generator. It allows you to go beyond the similarities of a name, which can provide a lot of inspiration!

Find other names based on Miriam using our baby name generator.


Rank in US: #287

- this week

Famous People Named Miriam

Pop Culture References for the name Miriam

Miriam's International Variations

Mariam, Miri, Mirit (Hebrew/Israeli) Mirjam (Finnish) Mimi (French) Maryam (Arabic)


Isabella_188 Says:


This name sounds like it's made-up, but I know it's not...

fromtheocean12 Says:


I don't see Miriam as a "serious" or "solemn" name, it actually seems very sweet and bubbly to me! I like the nickname options of Miri and Mia.

Rosie2525 Says:


The name Miriam is in my top 5 list of baby girl names for our (hopefully) future daughter, one day. I've heard the discussions about the name meaning. I guess there could be different ones. But I'm personally going with "wished for child" because we want a child so much. That meaning makes me like Miriam more. I actually started liking this name after hearing the Norah Jones song called "Miriam". NOT a song you would want to associate with your child Miriam, but it is a good song! ;) I love the nickname Miri!

Miriam2468 Says:


That's kinda funny, because my name is Miriam and I'm Jewish, but all the other Miriams I've met(I've met three), have not been Jewish lol

Miriam2468 Says:


Mine too!

Miriam2468 Says:


It's my name as well!

Ruanne Says:


Why not use it? It's rather captivating I think.

FantasyandPrayer Says:


Currently crushing on Miriam Pearl (nn Minnie). Would probably not use it myself but still I'm kinda hooked on the combination

nml28 Says:


I didn't even know people considered Miriam an old-ladyish name until I went on this website. I think it's more popular in the Jewish community because basically every one of my family friends has a relative named Miriam lol! I do really like the name.

paulapuddephatt Says:



MonikerWanderer Says:


So cute. It's one of the few girls' names I adore.

Miri Says:


Miriam is my name, and I love it! I'm called Miri, and I think it's a lovely name.

Fluffykitten101 Says:


I don't like Miriam in full as I think it sounds too clunky and old but I love the selection of nicknames: Mimi, Miri, Mira, Ria, Mamie.

littlepenelope Says:


I'm surprised this is so high on the SSA list. I love it. And for me, feels a little spunkier than Mariam.

Haids1987 Says:


Interesting. What a cool example of the lovely diversity in humans. :-)

Essa Says:


We're completely on the same wave length. I'm pretty sure it was on Nameberry where I saw that meaning too, they must've changed it recently. I do remember reading somewhere that it wasn't completely certain that it derived from Mary so this could be where the different meanings come from.

alexandramae Says:


Miriam can have a few different meanings, based on where you believe the name originated. Mary can come from Miriam/Maryam, some translations of Bibles have "Mary" as different forms, such as Maryam, Maria, Miriam, etc.

Haids1987 Says:


Well, I know that Mary, Maria, etc. are supposed to mean "bitter," and I thought that Miriam fell under the "Mary" family. Plus I thought I remembered reading before that it shared that meaning? Hmmm. I think Nameberry might be wrong here.

Essa Says:


Exactly what I thought!! It's my grandma's name so I've always wanted to like it but the meaning always put me off, no way I'm naming my daughter 'bitter'!!

Haids1987 Says:


I thought that Miriam meant "bitter?"

Essa Says:


That's funny because I would say Mira sounds more dated than Mirium. Then again, I quite like Mildred, I wouldn't go as far as saying I liked Bertha though...

cabosanmucus Says:


To me this is up there with Mildred and Bertha. Just too "old". The nickname Mira on its own is so much cuter.

EW314 Says:


This is a stunning name which feels light and feminine, but also grounded. I can see it working on a variety of ages and personalities, and it has a ton of lovely nickname options. My personal favourite is short, sweet Mim.

ambercat Says:


That's interesting because it was my grandmother's name (paternal grandmother) and my husband's grandmother's name (maternal grandmother). We are from completely different backgrounds, so I guess Miriam has a universal appeal despite being somewhat uncommon.

Pucko Says:


My actual name is Miriam, I have only met three people with the same name as me! My friends could never find a nickname that stuck, so if yo pick this name you got to make it clear that the nickname is officially what you are calling her. But otherwise I like my name.

headintheclouds Says:


Lovely name, with a lovely meaning. I've heard comments about Miriam sounding rather dowdy, but I think it would be refreshing to meet a Miriam. I think it sounds elegant and refined, with Miri as a particular nickname option that I really love.

MommaMcguire Says:


This is my mother's name. Have always liked it, and now my husband and I are considering it for a daughter.

Saffron_Rice Says:


Exquisitely beautiful, both in sight and sound, and with a lovely role model in the Biblical Miriam. I love the nn Miri, and Mimi is cute too.

tori101 Says:


I love Miriam. My mother is Jewish and she has Miriam in her family tree. It's a great choice, light, pretty, and with a lovely delicate sound. I also love the nicknames surrounding this as well such as Miri, Mimi, Minnie etc. A lovely choice.

hellogoodbye111 Says:


This name is growing on me.

unicornluvgirl Says:


I love the name and nickname Miri

Sunshine Kid Says:


Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Plus Miri, Mim, Mira etc are really cute!