female proper name, shortened form of Mollie, Molly, itself a familiar of Mary. Used from c. 1600 for "prostitute," but in low slang by early 19c. it also meant "female companion not bound by ties of marriage, but often a life-mate" [Century Dictionary]. It became a general word for "woman" in old underworld slang, for instance Moll-buzzer "pickpocket who specializes in women;" Moll-tooler "female pick-pocket." U.S. sense of "a gangster's girlfriend" is by 1923.
also Scheherazade, the narrator of the "Arabian Nights;" the name was used by 1807 in reference to "(young, attractive, female) teller of long tales."
female barbershop singing group member, 1947, from the name of a popular close harmony song by Richard Armstrong & Harry Gerard, "You're the Flower of my Heart, Sweet Adeline" (1903).
fem. proper name, German diminutive of Greta, a German and Swedish pet form of Margaret. Sometimes used as a typical German female name, also sometimes in reference to the name of the simple girl seduced by Faust.
"gigolo, good-looking romantic man," 1927, from Italian-born U.S. movie actor Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926), who was adored by female fans. His full name was Rodolfo Guglielmi di Valentino, from the Latin masc. proper name Valentinus (see Valentine).
late 14c., "one of a race of female warriors in Scythia," via Old French (13c.) or Latin, from Greek Amazon (mostly in plural Amazones), probably from an unknown non-Indo-European word, or possibly from an Iranian compound *ha-maz-an- "(one) fighting together" [Watkins]. But in folk etymology it has been long derived from a- "without" + mazos, variant of mastos "breast;" hence the story that the Amazons cut or burned off one breast so they could draw bowstrings more efficiently.
It was also used generally in early Modern English of female warriors; strong, tall, or masculine women; and the queen in chess.
The river in South America (originally called by the Spanish Rio Santa Maria de la Mar Dulce) was rechristened with this name by Francisco de Orellana, 1541, after an encounter with female warriors of the Tapuyas (or, as some say, beardless, long-haired male tribesmen). Others hold that the river name is a corruption of a native word in Tupi or Guarani meaning "wave."
fem. proper name, from French, a variant of Marian; sometimes Englished as Mary Anne. It was the name of a republican secret society formed in France in 1851, when it became the designation of the female figure of "liberty" popular since the days of the Revolution; hence "personification of the French Republic" (1870).
Latin name of Britain, preserved in poetry and as the proper name of the female figure who personifies the place on coinage, etc.
When Britain first, at Heaven's command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
"Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
"Britons never will be slaves."
[James Thomson, 1740]