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.
I named my middle daughter Marina Sophia. We get so many compliments on her name. In the beginning we had some people who couldn’t figure out how to say the name just by reading it. She’s 3 now and absolutely Loves the water. We bounce between Mina and Rina for her nicknames.
I wonder if you have done Marinette yet? I stumbled across the name while browsing Pinterest. That was how I found a tv show called Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug &a Cat Noir. It is a French show, but the main character is Marinette. When I tried to look it up, there wasn’t much info about the name.
My favourite name of all, It reminds me of a Greek boat heading into the azure Mediterranean and a mysterious goddess of the water on bard, draped in white robes and a gold belt around her waist. Seriously, I have a friend called Marina Laurie- what a beautiful name is that! I remember the title song in Stingray sung by Barry Gray (Marina) and it so fits the name. Entrancing and mysterious,
Hey…. what about Mariah? I can’t find any of those on your site! I have always been cursed with that — there’s never a keychain or pencil with MY name on it!
No mention of Marina Sirtis, the actress who played Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation? She was born in the UK to Greek parents, and is my first and only association with the name Marina.
ACK! Holey, thank you for adding Marina Sirtis to the list – she deserves to be there.
Laney McDonald says
I love Marina. It’s pretty and I like that it isn’t popular. Love the sea association that goes along with it. It makes me feel peaceful when I think of it. I’d definitely use it on one of my children. Great name! It’s always been a favorite of mine and I love the idea of using the nicknames Mari and Rina. Great way to honor my maternal grandmother Mary.
Adore Mario and Marius on little boys too. One of my internet buddies has an almost 4 year old son named Marius.
I know I haven’t posted in what seems like forever. Lol! Crazy life gets in the way and I’ve been feeling worse than crappy lately so been taking a break. Just taking a few seconds to pop in and add my input.
I love Marina. I don’t have time to same more, but it’s in my top 10.
I second JNE. I like Marina for all of the same above reasons. She use to be on my list. I still like her, but I know she is just not for any of my future children. I also really like the French form Marine.
I’ve always liked Marina. It’s pretty and flows nicely, plus its association with the sea is a nice bonus. Overall, I’m kind of surprised it is not more perennially popular and wouldn’t mind hearing it more.