The name has a few different etymologies depending on its source. In Germany, it is a contracted form of Marlene, now used as an independent given name.

In Russia, it is the name of an indigineous nature based pre-Christian religion practiced by the Mari in the Republic of Mari El. The name is sometimes used among the Mari much in the same way Christians use the names Christian and Christine and Muslims use Islam.

The Marla religion is one of the last traditional beliefs to have survived Christianization and has co-existed with Russian Orthodoxy for centuries. The name has also been used by non-Mari Russians as well.

Currently, Marla is the 141st most popular female name in Germany, (2011). In Russian, it is spelled as Марла.

In the United States, the name is often associated with Socialite, Marla Maples (b.1963).



Gender: Feminine
Origin: German
Eng (mar-LEEN); Germ (mahr-LEH-neh)

The name is a blend of Maria and Magdalena, originally, it was usually bestowed in honour of St. Mary Magdalen by German-Catholic parents.

The name experienced a surge in popularity in Germany during WWII due to a popular song, Lili Marleen.

In the United States, the name was introduced by German actress, Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992), who was born Maria Magdalena von Losch.

Currently, in German-speaking countries, the name is experiencing a revival, it is the 29th most popular female name in Austria, (2010) and the 41st most popular in Germany. In the United States, she stands at # 902, (2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Marleen (Dutch/German)
  • Marla (English/German)
  • Marlene (English/German/Scandinavian)
  • Marlène (French)
  • Marlen (German)
  • Marilena (Italian)
  • Marlena (Polish/Slovene)