Origin: Greek μελαινα
Meaning: “black, dark.”
Brit/Amer Eng (MEL-ah-NEE); Aus Eng (meh-LAH-nee); Fre (may-lah-NEE); Germ (MEL-ah-nee)
The name is derived from the Latin, Melania, which is derived from the Greek, μελαινα (melaina), meaning, “dark; black.”
In Greek Mythology, Melaina was the name of a nymph.
In the early Christian Church, the name was popularized by two 5th-century Roman saints, a grandmother and her granddaughter. Melanie the Younger is known for giving all her wealth to charity.
The name was introduced into England by the conquering Normans, but was never really common. The name became rather common in both the United States and in Britain starting in the early 20th-century, whether it was a French import, or if the character of Melanie Wilkes in Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone with the Wind (1936), are attributable to its popularity is up to conjecture.
Currently, Melanie is 89th most popular female name in the United States, (2011). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:
- # 54 (Austria, 2010)
- # 60 (Argentina, 2009)
- # 237 (France, 2010)
- # 376 (Netherlands, 2011)
Other forms of the name include:
- Melanya (Armenian)
- Melanija Меланија Мелания (Croatian/Macedonian/Russian/Serbian/Slovene)
- Melánie (Czech: meh-LAHN-ye)
- Melanie (Dutch/English/German)
- Mélanie (French)
- Melaina Μελαινα (Greek)
- Melánia (Hungarian/Slovak)
- Melani (Hungarian)
- Melania (Italian/Late Latin/Polish/Spanish)
Italian masculine forms are: Melanio and Melaneo.
Polish diminutives are: Melanka, Melcia and Melusia.
The name is also borne by:
British pop singer, Melanie Brown, (former Spice Girl) b.1975. Melanie Chrisholm, aka Sporty Spice, b. 1974. American actress, Melanie Griffith (b.1957) and French actress and star of Inglorious Bastards, Mélanie Laurent (b. 1983).
The designated name-days are: January 10 (Hungary), January 13 (Poland), June 30 (Slovakia) and December 31 (France/Germany/Poland).