Mermaid Names: Beyond Madison and Ariel

Mermaid names have made it big in recent years.  There’s Madison, Darryl Hannah’s character from Splash.  Disney christened The Little Mermaid Ariel in 1989, and she and her princess friends are now found on little girls’ gear everywhere you look.

Beyond Madison and Ariel: Other Famous Mermaids 

CoraliaAn underwater realm in Flash Gordon, but also a name for a mermaid in a nineteeth-century ballet

Deema – From the new Nickelodeon series Bubble Guppies, about a group of preschoolers and their adventures with teacher Mr. Grouper

DianaFrom 2003 movie Mermaids, about a trio of fish-tailed sisters who set off to avenge the death of their merman father

JuneFrom 2003 movie Mermaids

LoreleiFrom German folktales, now better known as the given name of both Gilmore Girls – though mother and daughter spelled it Lorelai

MelodyAriel’s daughter in the extended Little Mermaid universe

MirandaIn a 1948 British comedy, a lonely fisherman catches the mermaid Miranda and the duo set off on a madcap tour of London

MollyAnother of the Bubble Guppies

Muirgen – An Irish story says that she was brought from the sea and baptized, and in some tellings, became a saint

NixieYet another name for a water-dwelling spirit

OndineA German water sprite who marries a mortal, but never gets her happily ever after.  In 2009, Colin Farrell played a fisherman who makes a surprising catch in the movie Ondine; Audrey Hepburn rose to fame playing Ondine on Broadway in 1954.

Oona – Another of the Bubble Guppies

SabrinaThe name of a water nymph in John Milton’s Comus, and an ancient Celtic river goddess, too

Thessalonike – Sister of Alexander the Great, said to have turned into a mermaid

UndineA variant of Ondine, but perhaps not as wearable

VenusFrom 2003 movie Mermaids, and known for posing on a shell in the Botticelli painting

Names That Would Fit a Mermaid

AvalonA medieval tale tells of three sisters growing up on the lost Isle of Avalon.  The eldest, Melusine, was cursed to spend one day a week as a mermaid.

Cleodora – The daughter of a river god and lover of Poseidon

DorisAn ocean nymph from Greek myth

IantheAnother ocean nymph

MarinaFrom the Latin marinus – of the sea

Melusina – A slightly more name-like version of melusine, and the name of an illegitimate daughter of England’s King George I

NerissaUltimately derived from the Greek word for water, and also used by Shakespeare for a minor character in The Merchant of Venice.

OceanePronounced oh SEE ahn, she’s big in the French-speaking world

PearlThe jewel of the ocean

Sedna – An Inuit goddess of the sea

Tethys – An ancient Greek sea goddess, and mother of thousands of water nymphs

WaverlyNot related to the word wave, but the connection is irresistible

Ariel’s big sisters in The Little Mermaid

Adella

Alana

Andrina

Aquata – Probably the least wearable of the group

Arista

Attina

From the mermaid statues of Norfolk, Virginia

Azalea

Beatrice

Dominique

Jewel

Lola

Meimadeline

Memory

Ocarina

Shellina

Sybil

Mishell

And if you’re expecting a little merman, there’s always Triton.

Guest post by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain.

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21 Responses to “Mermaid Names: Beyond Madison and Ariel”

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Penni Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 12:12 am

I have an Una (pron Oona) Pearl, perhaps she will take to the sea one day.

There is a lovely series of Australian kids books about a mermaid called Thora, pretty name.

linelei Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 2:01 am

I shouldn’t be surprised that I love so many of these names, seeing as I’ve always loved mermaids.

Faves: Lorelei (the best name ever, in my book), Coralia, Nixie, Miranda, Avalon, Melusina, and Ocarina. That last one is one of my secret favorites! Where did it come from? I play the ocarina, and I’ve always thought it would make a beautiful name.

Charlotte Vera Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 2:32 am

Oooh, this was a fun list! I don’t think that many of these would ever actually show up on a birth certificate around our house, but that doesn’t take away from the thrill that I still feel when reading about mermaids even this many years after I first watched The Little Mermaid as a young girl and fell in love with the tale.

Actually, a part of me would love to put Una/Oona on our baby name list, but she just doesn’t fit into enough of our required categories. Perhaps in the middle for a fifth daughter. . .

Abby Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 9:20 am

Penni, Una Pearl is gorgeous! And I love Thora.

Linelei, I just looked up ocarina, and it means “little goose” – oca is goose in Italian. I guess they thought an ocarina resembled a little goose? What a cool instrument to play! No idea how she got her name, though, and the location of the statue (http://mermaidwatch.blogspot.com/2009/05/ocarina.html) gives no clues!

Charlotte, I think I still know all the words to “Under the Sea!”

Leigh Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 9:21 am

Aww, I love this list! Don’t forget Atargatis/Derketo, Aycayia, Lí Ban, and the Nereids (although they weren’t mermaids initially).

I used to want so badly to be a mermaid. Kinda still do. 🙂

Lola Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 11:32 am

Oh, I like a lot more of these than I thought I would!

Ondine, Oona!, Sabrina from the first group. I adore Oona and have her in the middle: Penelope Oona Violet. I love Oona there!

Cleodora’s gorgeous, Ianthe, Nerissa & Pearl are lovely; as are Beatrice, Lola! & Sybil. I think the mermaid link is an added bonus on those last three in particular. I never knew my nickname was a mermaid name! 😀

Trustedwriter Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

So many of these are beautiful! I love Una. I confess I also love Undine, although I wouldn’t use that for a child; I have used it for a character in one of my books, though.

I agree with Abby – Una Pearl is a beautiful name, Penni!

Filipa Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

These are so lovely! I really like Coralia, Ondina, Medusa and Onda (means wave in portuguese)

Kitty Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Awesome list, I love mermaids!! You forgot Aquamarine, but maybe that was a bit too obvious :-).

FYI, Sedna is also the name of the sea witch in the non-Disney musical of The Little Mermaid, and therefore an equivalent of Ursula… why must villains have such awesome names?

crazynamegirl Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Undine? Really? Sounds ssssooooooo much like undies as in underwear. Not ok! I hear the teasing already…. My name is the name of a nereid in Greek mythology. Kind of strange because I don’t really like the ocean…but I guess I don’t really like my name much, either.

Sarah Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I love Melusine, also the name of a great fairy tale. I was hoping that no one else would discover this treasure 🙂

Abby Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Sorry ’bout that, Sarah. 😉

And crazynamegirl, I agree – Undine is not the most wearable of names. Ondine seems quite stylish, though.

Kitty, I’m disappointed to learn Sedna is attached to a villain. She was a last-minute addition to the list – I really like her!

Lola, I know! I’m not sure how all of the Norfolk mermaids got their names, but I *loved* reading the list. Penelope Oona Violet has great initials – P.o.V. – point of view!

Filipa, Onda is great.

babynamesrule Says:

March 14th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I LOVE this list! It totally had me singing the song in the Little Mermaid where all the sisters are introduced. They all fit! lol.

Cassandra Says:

March 15th, 2011 at 12:52 am

When I was a little girl, and we would play mermaids in the pool, I would often (though not always) choose Shelley as my mermaid name. Now I am a grown up girl, and married to a man who’s last name is Shelley. I get to be a mermaid forever now.

Joyel Says:

April 26th, 2011 at 12:49 am

My daughter’s name is Lorelei June, born before either the Gilmore Girls or Mermaids. How curious! We sort of liked the maritime associations of Lorelei, but June is a family name.

Demi Says:

May 23rd, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I just saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Just as good as the first one) any way, the Mermaid’s name is Syrena. So pretty!!!!!!!!!

Catherine Says:

June 12th, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I loove mermaids. I think a mermaid’s name should be with three spellings; that makes the whole creature more beautiful, if you see what I mean.

Cornelia, Miranda, Adeleide, Angelica, Melody, Sabrina, Venus, Afrodite, Madeleine, Michelle, Cleodora and Syrena are beautiful names. I also love Tallullah, it’s so exotic and wonderful:)

Katie Ann Says:

June 27th, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Whenever I played mermaids, I was Ripple. Now I think it sounds more like a dog’s name 🙂

Carol Says:

July 19th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I’m Currently co writing Peter Pan for our local drama group (TOADS)pantomime this year. Found this list very helpful for the Mermaids Lagoon scene! 🙂

thelifespark Says:

October 29th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

I love mermaids and as a little girl I wanted was to be a mermaid. I played mermaids all the time and liked to be “Ariel” more than myself.

Penni, Una Pearl is a gorgeous name!

MissusAytch Says:

January 18th, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Miranda is on our short list for a girl. Always thought it sounded mermaidish and it had the Shakespearean tempest/shipwreck connection.

I was 10 when The Little Mermaid came out so I grew up loving the name Ariel and pretty much wanting to her. (I dye my hair red to this day.)

One that’s missing from this list is Senara, the Breton saint whose legend had a mermaid twist.

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