Maren: Baby Name of the DayThis post was originally published on July 14, 2009. It was substantially revised and re-posted on December 21, 2015.

It’s a tailored choice that brings to mind the sea.

Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Maren as our Baby Name of the Day.

Maren: Spare and Lovely

For every Arabella, there’s a Gertrude.

Maren occupies the middle ground – feminine, but frills-free. It’s not quite as gender neutral as Sutton, but it’s also not as obviously meant for a girl as Lucinda.

This makes it a great compromise name for parents torn between Alena and Sloane.

Maren: Meanings Galore

There are plenty of possible sources for the name:

  • It could come from the Latin marinus – of the sea, via the Roman family name Marinus and the feminine Marina.
  • It could also be short for Emerentia, from the Latin emeritus, a title originally bestowed on retired soldiers but now found mainly in academia.
  • It’s tempting to connect Maren to Mary, and it appears that it is occasionally used a nickname for Maria in German.

Maren: Or Marin?

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA.

Spell this name with an ‘i’ and the list of origins and meanings grows even longer:

  • Saint Marinus founded a monastery in 301. The settlement grew into the tiny microstate of San Marino, between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic coast. Marin is a common form of the name. There were two popes named Marinus, in the 800s and 900s. (They’re also recorded as Martin.)
  • The French word for sailor is marin, from the Latin.
  • Marin County, California sits across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. The county might be named after Chief Marin of the Miwok Tribe, or perhaps it’s taken from a name once used for a local bay, Bahía de Nuestra Señora del Rosario la Marinera. This makes it a Marian name, but just as much connected to the sea.
  • In France, it’s the name of the southeasterly winds off the Gulf of Lion.

All of this makes the name gender neutral, and also suggests multiple pronunciations. I tend to rhyme Maren with Karen, but Marin County sounds more like Corinne.

Maren: By the Numbers

Maren: Baby Name of the DayThe ‘e’ spelling is slightly more common in the US.

The original Battlestar Galactica cast included an actress named Maren Jensen, and the name briefly charted in the US Top 1000 between 1979 and 1982.

Then it disappeared, only to rise again in the last decade. The name was given to 214 girls in 2014, down from 278 in 2008. That means Maren is currently outside of the US Top 1000.

Marin was given to just 162 girls last year, but it was actually even more popular than the ‘e’ spelling. One possible reason? 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give, featuring Amanda Peet as Marin. The name charted in the US Top 1000 from 2004 through 2008, peaking with 324 newborn Marins in 2007.

All of this makes Maren a choice that’s both under-the-radar and on trend. If Karen can become a Top Ten favorite in the 1950s and 60s, there’s no reason Maren couldn’t follow the same path.

If your favorites range from Harper to Lily to Claire, this unexpected possibility bridges them all. It could work beautifully in the first or the middle spot.

What do you think of Maren? Do you prefer the ‘e’ or the ‘i’ spelling?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. My daughter is Maryn Lenore. My husband INSISTED that we use the “y”, since it was more feminine that way ‍♀️. I loved the name so much I agree, though I do prefer it with an “e”

  2. As a Maren, named for my grandmother Maren, it is difinitely pronounced to ryhme with car, or mar – my Danish grandfather used to say it rhymed with barn. It is Scandinavian, and pronounced MAH-ren. The a vowel as in “Air” is not a sound used in Norse languages. It’s commonly mispronounced in the states – it doesn’t rhyme with Karen the way it is said here, but in Scandinavian sounds Karen would have the round AH vowel, too. KAH-ri, KAH-ren.

    My husband says it is also the French pronunciation of the phrase “My Queen” – Ma Riene – so he calls me Maj for majesty. 🙂

    1. My 7 year old daughter is named Maren (pronounced MAHR-en, like the beginning sound of Margaret). We wanted a solid, timeless name, while still being feminine and also giving a nod to our Scandinavian heritage. It suits her well and people compliment her on her name all the time. With multiple accepted pronunciations, I knew going into it that it would likely be mispronounced a lot, but we have found that people will guess/say MAH-ren 90% of the time. We have a heavy presence of Swedish and Norwegian heritage in our state, so perhaps that is why, but it has been a welcome surprise. Not that correcting people has ever bothered her.

  3. I live in California and we poronounce Marin, Muh-Rin. I would pronounce Maren, Mair-en (like Karen) mostly because the Marens that I’ve met pronounced it that way… though I do like the – mar like car – pronunciation too.
    Pretty name. 🙂

  4. Our daughter is Maren Emily, rhyming with “car.” Never thought about it sounding like Karen even though my mom is Karen until a friend had a daughter Maren that was pronounced that way. Love the softer sound; guess it was my foreign language studies that made me hear it differently.