Here is my situation: my husband and I are expecting our first child, a baby girl, this fall and we have always wanted to name our first daughter after my deceased grandmother, whose name was Muriel. Here is my problem: our taste in names runs to the highly unusual (not in the top 1000), and while Muriel is currently unusual, it still seems very old lady-ish to me, and I'm not sure if it is ready for a revival like so many other "grandma" names seem to be these days.
So my question is, do you know of any forms/nicknames of the name Muriel that are a bit more modern while still unusual? We are not overly concerned with it matching with our last name or any particular middle, so just whatever you can think of! To give you an idea of our taste in names, our favorite girl names (for future siblings) are Verity, Romilly, Bronte, and Zellie. To clarify, we do not want to use one of these as a first name with Muriel as a middle. It is important for us to use some form of Muriel as a first name...we're just hoping to find something that is more along the lines of the names above!
I think if I were you, I would go ahead and use Muriel as-is. Muriel, by being old-fashioned but unlike the currently-trendy old-lady names, will go along with the others without being as much of a risk for a sudden spike in popularity. It also seems to me like using your grandmother's actual name would be pleasing, and it also gives you something to say if people react to the name with surprise (I've noticed the line "It was my ____'s name" quells many an unwanted opinion.)
If you wanted to modify it to a more modern sound, I'd suggest Mariel or Meriel or Miriel (I'm thinking of Mariel and Meriel with a MARE sound like Mary or Meredith, and Miriel with a MEER sound like Miriam). It's a change of a single vowel, but it makes the name entirely more current.
[Poll results (244 votes total):
Muriel: 116 votes, roughly 48%
Mariel: 87 votes, roughly 36%
Meriel: 8 votes, roughly 3%
Miriel: 33 votes, roughly 14%]