She’s international, oceanic and saintly, too.
Thanks to Corinne for suggesting Marina as Name of the Day.
Look up Marina in baby name books, and you might find her listed as the feminine form of the Roman Marinus. Fair enough – both Marius and Mario share those roots. But it is irresistible to link the whole cluster to the Latin marinus – of the sea. We’ve all been doing it for generations.
Marina didn’t become a noun until the 20th century. In American English, she may be a place to dock your boats, but she was in use as a given name long before. Back in the eighth century, one bearer of the name became a saint. Her relics have been housed in Venice since the 1200s. That’s why she’s big in Italy. There have been more Saints Marina since, explaining some of her international appeal.
In the early seventeenth century, Shakespeare used the name for the daughter of Pericles in Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
You’ll find Marina on the map from California to Croatia. A few notable bearers of the name include:
- Marina Khan was a Pakistani actress in the 1980s and 90s;
- Marina Watanabe is a Japanese actress. It’s said her father chose her name because he loved boating;
- In the 1500s, a Mexican woman served as an interpreter for Hernán Cortés as he conquered her country;
- In the 1960s, Marina was a marionette cursed into muteness on ITV’s Stingray;
- Also on television, Marina was a rags-to-riches drama on Telemundo;
- Princess Marina of Greece grew up in exile, eventually marrying into the British Royal Family and becoming the Duchess of Kent;
- Marina Berti was an Italian actress from the 1940s through the 70s – and mother to Marina Giordana;
- Russian poet and playwright Marina Tsvetaeva suffered under the Soviet regime and is better known posthumously.
It’s an eclectic bunch.
Marina has always been in sparing use in the US. She got a boost in the 1930s, when Princess Marina’s marriage into the British Royal family made the news.
But her highest ranking wasn’t until the 1990s, when she peaked at #219 in 1994. Marina references have been steady through the years, so it doesn’t seem as if any one famous or literary Marina encouraged her use. Instead, it may’ve been Marina’s similarity to Top 100 choices like Marissa and Mariah. And Jessica, another Bard-inspired baby name, held the #1 spot.
Today, Marina ranks just #538. But because she was never as popular as Jennifer or Michelle, Stephanie or Tiffany, she doesn’t quite sound dated. Friends alum Matt LeBlanc gave the name to his daughter.
Overall, she’s pretty and feminine. While Marina might not be especially fashion-forward, that could make her the perfect compromise – somewhere between a Top Ten staple like Olivia and the unusual choices that you’ll find yourself repeating and spelling endlessly.