Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Melanie

The name Melanie was brought to England by way of the Norman-French after the Conquest of 1066. Mélanie is essentially the French version of the Latin Melania, both of which are derived from the Greek “melaina” (μελαινα), a descriptive adjective meaning “black, dark.” The Medieval French adopted the name in honor of a 5th century Roman saint, St. Melania the Younger. Melania was born into one of the wealthiest families in the Roman Empire circa 383 A.D.; she would later convert to Christianity upon the early deaths of two of her children. After inheriting her father’s vast wealth, Melania used all the money to endow and aid Christian churches across Europe and the Middle East. She also freed her slaves, sold her property and gave her money to the poor. She became symbolic of the ephemeral value of material wealth, and her legend and cult grew in the Middle Ages. The French readily bestowed the name Mélanie as they did with so many other venerated early saints. The name was picked up by the English by way of the French although it had become rare by the later Middle Ages. Melanie came out of hibernation in the late 1930s thanks to Margaret Mitchell’s character Melanie Wilkes in her novel “Gone with the Wind” (1936) and the blockbuster movie adaptation that followed (1939).

All About the Baby Name – Melanie

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME MELANIE

The number Five personality loves the excitement of life and can easily adapt to all situations. As natural adventurers, these personalities thrive on the new and unexpected and prefer to be in constant motion. It makes them feel alive. They'll stir up some action if there's not enough around, and as inherent risk-takers they enjoy pushing the envelope. Naturally rebellious, the Five personality has no fear and never resists change.  Traveling and new experiences feed their souls. Fives are very social and attract friends with ease. People love to be around the Five fun-loving and exciting energy.  This is also a lucky number in numerology (like the Threes), so fortune seems to shine on them, helped along by their own optimism and good-nature. Fives have a quick wit, a cerebral mind, and are generally very persuasive. 

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME MELANIE

Melanie hit the American female naming charts in 1938 – saw enormous gains after the release of “Gone with the Wind” (1939) – and then landed a position on the U.S. Top 100 in 1968. The height of the name’s popularity came in the early 1970s when Melanie achieved position #42 on America’s Top 100 list (1972). Since then, she has been bouncing up and down the charts and averaging around #90 in terms of ranking. Melanie feels like a “good girl” name given its association with such a pious saint, as well as the gentle and kind character we know as Melanie Hamilton from “Gone with the Wind.” A modern classic with medieval French flavor, the name has both sophistication and cuteness going for it. The name’s etymological meaning (black, dark) makes it a good choice for baby girls with dark complexions and/or black hair.

Quick Facts

ON MELANIE

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

3

RANKING POPULARITY:

84

PRONUNCIATION:

MEHL-ә-nee

SIMPLE MEANING:

Black, dark

Characteristics

OF MELANIE

Freedom-loving

Adventurous

Adaptable

Intellectual

Easygoing

Progressive

Sensual

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Melanie

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME MELANIE

Melanie is the lovely counterpart to Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel, Gone With The Wind, and her image is inextricably intertwined with Olivia de Haviland, who played her in the 1939 movie. Surely Melanie is one of the most loved modern American fictional characters. She is not “too good to be true”, she is good and true, an unfaltering, loyal and loving pillar of support to all the other pivotal characters in the story. Born of an aristocratic, inbred Southern family, both she and her cousin/husband, Ashley Wilkes, have been raised in the genteel, mythic atmosphere of the Old South in all its glory. While this results in a kind of namby-pamby indecisiveness in Ashley, in Melanie it seems to have provided a backbone of steel under all the naivete and crinolines. She is kind and gentle, but not above shooting a Yankee soldier when he threatens those she loves. She stands up for Scarlett’s reputation and provides a bridge back to sanity for Rhett Butler when his daughter dies, all the while performing her duties as the perfect wife and mother that she is. In the crucial scene where Melanie meets her death, it is perhaps Scarlett who mourns her most, realizing finally how much she has relied upon this good woman, how much she has needed her, and how loathe she is to let her go.

Popular Songs

ON MELANIE

Bachelor Boy/When Gary Married Melanie
Toy Dolls

Melanie Banks Where Can You Be?
a song by Diesel Boy

Melanie
a song by Weird Al Yankovic

Famous People

NAMED MELANIE

Melanie Griffith (actress)
Melanie Brown (singer/Spice Girl)
Melanie Chisholm (singer/Spice Girl)
Melanie Blatt (singer)
Melanie Fiona (singer)
Melanie Thornton (singer)
Melanie Oudin (tennis player)

Children of Famous People

NAMED MELANIE

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Melanie

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME MELANIE

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Melanie