Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Molly

Molly (like Mollie) is a pet form of the English female name Mary – although it has become a popular female given name in its own right. Mary is the anglicized version of the French Marie (from the Latin Maria), both of which are derived from the Hebrew Miriam, who appears in the Book of Exodus as the sister of Moses and Aaron. So the evolution of Molly went something like this: מִרְיָם (Hebrew: Miryam) --> Μαριαμ (Greek: Mariam) --> Maria (Latin) --> Marie (French) --> Mary (English) --> Molly (English pet form). Finding the ultimate etymological source for the Hebrew Miryam was not so easy. There are varying theories and schools of thought out there as to the true linguistic root of this ancient Hebrew name. After much study, we have come to believe that the original Hebrew Miryam came from the ancient Egyptian “mry” meaning “beloved” (which in hieroglyphics would have appeared as a picture of a finger above a human mouth sitting to the left of two reeds) – from the element “mr” meaning “love”. The reason why this etymology makes the most sense to us is simple: In the Bible, although Hebrew, Miriam and her family were born into Egyptian captivity (hence the Exodus back to the Promised Land). It is believed that Moses and Aaron’s names are also derived from ancient Egyptian words. Aside from Miriam’s Egyptian source, the name has also been tied to the Hebrew “mara” (“rebellious”) in reference to Miriam’s minor rebellion against her brother Moses or the Hebrew root “marar” (“to be bitter”) in reference to Miriam’s bitter opposition against Moses’s marriage to a Kushite woman (Kushites were dark-skinned Northern African nomadic/tribal people). In medieval England, nicknames such as Moll, Molle and Malle developed from Mary and eventually morphed into the modern-day Molly and Mollie which became independently given names by the 18th century. Molly is also occasionally considered a pet form of Margaret (meaning “pearl”), but it is definitely more strongly associated with the “beloved” Mary. Molly is currently a Top 10 favorite in Sweden of all places. It also ranks impressively high in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Australia. It’s also on the Top 100 list in the United States.

All About the Baby Name – Molly



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The name Molly didn’t perform so well in the first half of the 20th century. In fact, it spent 50 years climbing a mere 100 positions up the charts. It really wasn’t until the 1980s when the name finally took off in popularity (she landed a position on America’s Top 100 list for the first time ever in 1987). Although not as popular as Molly today, Mollie with an “-ie” was the preferred spelling more than 100 years ago at the turn of the 20th century. In any case, the name Molly seems to have reached a plateau at the upper end of the Top 100 list (ranked #90 in 2012). Molly is an adorable name for a girl that hasn’t become so trendy that it feels overused. There’s a certain feistiness to Molly that makes her more than just another cute name.

Quick Facts























Cultural References to the Baby Name – Molly

Literary Characters


Molly Bloom Is the wife of Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s modernistic masterpiece, Ulysses, published in 1922. The action takes place during a single day in 1904, following the everyday activities of Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, and assumes a parallel with the Homeric legend. Initially banned in both the United Kingdom and the United States on charges of obscenity, it was a highly controversial book for its explicit depictions of sexuality. It has also been heralded as the first example of “stream of consciousness”. Molly Bloom is a sensuous, voluptuous, forthright, unfaithful and highly physical woman, whose soliloquy in the final chapter of the book, eight long unpunctuated run-on sentences, stands as a monument to the resoundingly female ability to accept and embrace life fully, with an echoing “yes I will Yes.”

Molly is one of the characters in the popular American Girl series, one of the first three released in 1986, and representing the World War II era. She is a cheerful, bespectacled Midwestern girl for whom the war means only that she misses her father, who is serving in it. She is made aware of the first-hand realities of war, however, when she meets the English girl, Emily Bennett, who has been transplanted to America for her safety. Molly begins to learn about the larger impact of world events upon people, and it has a sobering effect. Luckily for all her fans, though, Molly is still lively and loveable, and she still hates turnips and math.

Popular Songs


Molly & Maryjane
a song by L Maze [explicit]

Lee and Molly
a song by Ziggy Marley

Lazy Elsie Molly
a song by Chubby Checker

Anna Molly
a song by Incubus

Good Golly Miss Molly
a song by Creedence Clearwater

Song for Molly
a song by Lucy Kaplansky

Run Molly, Run
a song by Kingston Trio

Molly's Lips
a song by Nirvana

Molly's Chamber
a song by Kings of Leon

Molly Dee
a song by Kingston Trio

Molly Coddled
a song by Tilt

a song by Mindless Self Indulgence

Molly Darling
a song by Eddy Arnold

Miss Molly
a song by the Old 97's

Handsome Molly
a song by Bill Morrissey

Every Man Has a Molly
a song by Say Anything

Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly
a song by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

Dark Eyed Molly
a song by Eva Cassidy

Famous People


Molly Ringwald (actress)
Molly Shannon (actress)
Molly Sims (actress/model)
Molly Parker (actress)
Molly Picon (actress)
Molly Brown (Titanic survivor)

Children of Famous People


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

Historic Figures


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