I am less than two weeks away from my due date and we are in a predicament. I would really really appreciate hearing your thoughts and your reader's thoughts on this name situation. We have a name we really like and while my husband thinks it's rediculous that I took this name off the list a long time ago because of it's meaning, I am still hesitant and want to know if I would be making a mistake by using it. The name we like is Cora which means "maiden" - this alone is no big deal really. The middle name we planned on using is Marie which means "bitter". Would Cora Marie hate us when she gets older and finds out her name means bitter maiden??? Marie is my middle name and my mom's middle name. We want to use a family name from my side since we did a family name from my husband's side for our son's middle name.
A little background info that might help: my name is Brooke, husband is Bryan and our son is Drew Thomas. Our last name is Fletcher. Our top girl names are Cora, Kate and Audrey.
Family names: Marie (my middle and my mom's) Lucille (my grandma's first name), June (my mom's favortie aunt), Kate (way back on both my grandmother and grandfather's side), Rosa (I LOVE Cora Rose, but this would be a stretch and Rosa is way far back in the family tree). I also love Cora Mae - could Mae be a newer version of Marie or am I pulling at strings here???
I am dying to know your thoughts and am completely open to any suggestions other than what have going!!!
Name meanings are fun, but this is where they bite us in the butt.
Historically, people have enjoyed attributing meanings to items. That doesn't mean those meanings are inherent to the items: one community decides a certain flower or certain color or certain gem or certain day of the year means one thing, and another community might decide something completely different. In one culture, white fabric is used for weddings and religious purity; in another, for funerals and mourning. Which of those reflects the true meaning of the color white? Neither: both meanings are imposed upon the color rather than obtained from it. Yellow roses mean "jealousy"---but also "friendship," "apology," and "dying love" (source). Which of those is the REAL meaning? None of them: all such meanings have been tacked onto the object for fun. If someone gives you yellow roses, the most likely message is "Here, have some pretty yellow roses."
It is the same with the name Cora Marie: it doesn't truly MEAN "bitter maiden" unless you intend it to mean that, any more than a yellow rose truly means "jealousy" if you don't intend it to mean that. A yellow rose means only itself: it is a yellow rose. The name Cora Marie means only itself: it is the proper noun Cora, followed by the proper noun Marie. Baby name books don't even agree on the meanings of names; and combining names to make compound meanings creates compound problems: the meaning of one name is not designed to refer to the meaning of another name.
Marie is said to mean bitter because it's similar to the name Mara which, in a Bible story, a character claims means bitter (source). Or maybe Mara means "to flap" or "to be filthy" or "to rebel" (source). In either case, does the possible meaning of a Hebrew word pronounced MAH-rah really impact the meaning of the French name pronounced mah-REE---and to the extent that a child sharing that name with millions of other women throughout history (as well as with her personal family ancestors) would take it as a personal slap in the face from her parents? Is that how you feel about your middle name, or how your mom feels about hers? Do any of us wonder, when we meet a Marie, if she hates her parents for giving her such an insulting name?
Besides, according to the The Oxford Dictionary of First Names, the names Marie, Maria, and Mary are separate from the name Mara and instead all come from the Latin word meaning "sea" (the same root as words such as marine, marina, and mariner). Presumably your daughter will not mind as much being known as a "sea maiden"---or mermaid, if you prefer.
The "maiden" part is also uncertain: according to the same book, the name Cora was invented in the 1800s by a novelist. Did that author imbue the name with a meaning at the moment of its invention? Was a special court convened to divine the true meaning of the name before registering it in the baby name books? No: the Oxford Dictionary speculates that the name "could represent a Latinized form of Greek Kore 'maiden'." Nobody knows what Cora means, because the name Cora doesn't have a meaning---not that this stops the baby name books from reporting one.
By all means, if you enjoy playing with the meanings of names, go ahead and do it: just as it might be fun to have a bouquet of striped and solid carnations seem to say "yes" and "no" at the same time, it could be fun to say a name like Cora Beatrix meant "happy maiden." But letting these imposed meanings stop you from using names you love is another matter. It would be like digging up the hydrangeas you loved because you didn't want your neighbors to think you were frigid.