Despite appearances, Rosemary is not a “smoosh” name, not even a traditional one. The name derives from two Latin terms “Ros” meaning ‘dew’ and “Marinus” “meaning “of the sea”. The plant was termed ‘dew of the sea’ due to its salty texture and its ability to thrive in coastal climes. Only after the Middle Ages did the English names of Rose and Mary become interchanged with the name Rosmarinus and give us the modern name we use today.
In ancient legend, Rosemary was draped around Aphrodite when she rose from the sea. It was regarded then as beneficial in strengthening the memory and became a symbol for faithful lovers. In Hamlet, Ophelia says "There's Rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember."
The name was long associated with George Clooney's aunt, the great pop singer Rosemary; less pleasant associations are with the 1967 movie Rosemary's Baby.
A common variation is Rosemarie; many parents are now looking to the stand-alone nickname Romy.