Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Melissa

The name Melissa comes from the Greek word (melissa) which means ‘honey bee’ and was borne by a nymph in Greek mythology. There are several stories surrounding Melissa in Ancient Greece. Most notably, she was a mountain nymph who hid the baby Zeus from his father, Cronus, who had designs on killing his infant son. Melissa fed the baby honey, but upon being discovered by Cronus, she was transformed into an earthworm. Zeus took pity on his baby-nurse and changed her into a beautiful bee. Melissa was also the name used for a good fairy and woman warrior in “Orlando Furioso”, a widely read Italian epic poem written by Ludovico Ariosto (1532). In the poem, Melissa utters these self-possessed words: “Nor theirs am I, nor other's, but my own, / Who wins me, wins me from myself alone.” In England, the name has been in use since the 17th century, probably influenced by the popularity of this poem.

All About the Baby Name – Melissa

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME MELISSA

Romance is the hallmark of the Six personality. They exude nurturing, loving, and caring energy. Sixes are in love with the idea of love in its idealized form - and with their magnetic personalities, they easily draw people toward them. Like the number Two personality, they seek balance and harmony in their life and the world at large. They are conscientious and service-oriented, and a champion for the underdog. These personalities naturally attract money and are usually surrounded by lovely material objects - but their human relationships are always primary. They thrive in giving back to others rather than being motivated by their own desires. This is when they achieve great things. Sixes are natural teachers, ministers and counselors.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME MELISSA

When we think of the name Melissa, we identify it immediately with the 1970s, a decade when the name dominated in popularity. However, the name has enjoyed a much longer history on the American naming charts. At the turn of the 20th century (over 100 years ago), Melissa was in use, albeit at very moderate to low levels of popularity. The name basically disappears from the American consciousness in the 1920s but only for a brief while. By the mid-1930s, Melissa reappears on the charts. And this time, she means business. In 1961, the name finally lands a spot on the Top 100 list of most commonly used girls’ names and by the end of that decade, she charges into the Top 10. The zenith of Melissa’s popularity came between 1977 and 1979 during which years Melissa was the #2 most popular girl’s name in America (Jennifer held the #1 spot at that time). This is massive achievement very few names can claim. However, Melissa’s fashionable days were coming to an end by the mid-1980s when she slowly descends back down the charts. In 2005, Melissa falls off the Top 100 list for the first time in over 40 years of success. The name continues to show backwards movement as we progress into this century. She is gracefully stepping aside for the newer trends of the day; we will miss her. As the Allman Brothers Band’s 1972 classic song “Melissa” suggests, “the gypsy flies with sweet Melissa.” We wouldn’t mind if this “honey bee” flies back again soon.

Quick Facts

ON MELISSA

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

3

RANKING POPULARITY:

202

PRONUNCIATION:

mә-LIS-ah

SIMPLE MEANING:

Honey bee

Characteristics

OF MELISSA

Humanitarian

Community-minded

Family-oriented

Loving

Affectionate

Compassionate

Sensitive

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Melissa

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME MELISSA

Melissa lives in Merlin’s cave in Ludovico Ariosto’s Italian Renaissance poem Orlando Furioso. Based on the Arthurian legends and set against a backdrop of Christian/Muslim wars, it is an epic and complex piece involving hundres of characters and scores of subplots. The lovely enchantress, Melissa, is responsible for giving the magic ring to Ruggiero, the ring which enables its wearer to distinguish between magic spells and reality.

Lily Owens is the narrator of Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Secret Life of Bees” (2002). Lily is a fourteen-year-old white girl in 1964, searching for her identity through her deceased mother's past. Lily is constantly tormented by her abusive father whom she refers to as T. Ray. They have a black maid, Rosaleen, who acts as a surrogate mother to Lily. Despite her troubles, Lily is very creative and daydreams of ways to escape her station in life, whether it’s getting to be a popular girl by going to "Manners School" or becoming a famous writer.

Popular Songs

ON MELISSA

Is That You, Melissa
a song by Mercyful Fate

Melissa
a song by Mercyful Fate

Melissa Louise
a song by Chixdiggit

Famous People

NAMED MELISSA

Melissa Joan Hart (actress)
Melissa Etheridge (musician)
Melissa Gilbert (actress)
Melissa Sue Anderson (actress)
Melissa Archer (actress)
Melissa Del Valle (pioneer in female boxing)
Melissa George (model/actress)
Melissa Keller (model)
Melissa Leo (actress)
Melissa Manchester (singer/songwriter)
Melissa Rivers (TV personality)
Melissa Joan Hart (actress)
Melissa Etheridge (musician)
Melissa Gilbert (actress)
Melissa Sue Anderson (actress)
Melissa Archer (actress)
Melissa Del Valle (pioneer in female boxing)
Melissa George (model/actress)
Melissa Keller (model)
Melissa Leo (actress)
Melissa Manchester (singer/songwriter)
Melissa Rivers (TV personality)
Melissa Joan Hart (actress)
Melissa Etheridge (musician)
Melissa Gilbert (actress)
Melissa Sue Anderson (actress)
Melissa Archer (actress)
Melissa Del Valle (pioneer in female boxing)
Melissa George (model/actress)
Melissa Keller (model)
Melissa Leo (actress)
Melissa Manchester (singer/songwriter)
Melissa Rivers (TV personality)

Children of Famous People

NAMED MELISSA

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME MELISSA

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