Mara is a female given name with multiple origins and meanings:

  • Mara is a Hebrew female name meaning “bitter”, taken on by Naomi from the Old Testament after she had lost her husband and sons, as well as also being a Croatian and Serbian variant of Marija, which comes from the Hebrew female name Miriam, a name of unknown meaning though possible meanings ascribed to it are “sea of bitterness”, “rebelliousness” or “obstinacy”, and “wished for child”. It’s also possible that it might be derived from an Egyptian source either meaning “beloved” from myr, or from mr “love”. Maria is also the feminine form of Marius, a Roman family name which could be derived from Latin mas meaning “male” or Latin mare meaning “sea”. It could also be derived from Mars, the Roman god of war (the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Ares), a name of uncertain etymology though it’s possible that Mars was derived from an older source, perhaps from from Etruscan Maris (the god of fertility and agriculture) of unknown meaning. Mars could also be the contracted form of an older name, Mavors (or Mavort) which could come from Latin verb mah or margh (to cut) and vor (to turn), essentially meaning “turner of the battle”. Mars could also be derived from the same  Proto-Indian-European root as Sanskrit marici meaning “ray of light”, or Proto-Indian-European mer meaning “to die”. It could also be associated with Latin marceo meaning “to (cause to) wither” and “to (make) shrivel” and Latin marcus meaning “hammer”;
  • In German and Slavic folklore, a mara is a female spirit or goblin that sleeps on peoples’ chests while they are sleeping and give them bad nightmares. It is a cognate of Old English maere, mare which comes from Proto-Germanic *marǭ meaning “nightmare; evil spirit, succubus” from the Proto-Indo-European root word *mer-, *mor- (to die; to rub away, harm);
  • Mara (also spelled Māra) is the name of a Latvian goddess of agriculture and death as well as women and the market. Her name may be derived from Proto-Indo-European *mer- meaning “to die; to rub away, harm”. She’s been equated as the Latvian cognate of Marzanna, a Slavic goddess of winter and death which may also be linked to Proto-Indo-European *mer- (to die) though she has also been associated with the mara in Gemanic and Slavic folklore. Mara has also been used as a word meaning “phantom”, “vision”, “dream”in Belarussian, Ukrainian, and Polish;
  • Mara is a Hindu goddess of death in Hindu mythology, the name also meaning “death” from Sanskrit māra (death, pestilence; killing, destroying) which may also be derived from Proto-Indo-European *mer- (to die) while in Buddhism, Mara is a (male) demon who attempts to derail the Buddha’s enlightenment by tempting him with beautiful women, apparently his daughters. Apparently he represents the death of spiritual life or enlightenment;
  • Mara is also a word in the Maasai language meaning “spotted”. It’s the name of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, a game reserve in Kenya, so named because of the way the circle of trees, shrubs, and savanna mark the area;
  • Mara is also a surname, a short form of Irish surname O’Mara, the anglicized form of Ó Meadhra meaning “descendant of Meadhair”, the latter derived from a given name meaning “mirth” or “merry”.

Origin: Hebrew, Proto-Indo-European, Sanskrit, Maasai, Gaelic



  • Marah (Hebrew)


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