🔼The name Damaris: Summary
- Wife, Subdued
- From the noun δαμαρ (damar), wife, from the verb δαμαζο (damazo), to overpower.
🔼The name Damaris in the Bible
Damaris is mentioned only once. In Athens, Paul was confronted by some Stoics and Epicureans, and after his subsequent sermon on Mars Hill, few Athenians converted, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and "a woman named" Damaris (Acts 17:34). After that, Paul went to Corinth and Damaris is never heard from again.
🔼Etymology of the name Damaris
Damaris is a wonderful name but its etymology might be a bit shocking for some. It comes from the word δαμαρ (damar) meaning wife. And the word damar comes from the verb δαμαζο (damazo), generally meaning to overpower. According to Liddell and Scott — An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, this verb is tied into three distinct actions: (1) the breaking in, bringing under the yoke or taming of animals; (2) to subdue or conquer whatever's there to subdue and conquer (Homer uses this verb to describe being overcome by wine, or even to beat and kill somebody); and (3) to make maidens subject to husbands.
This is of course tremendously dreadful but not without foundation. Mankind has been largely patriarchal for as long as it existed; it's how the natural world happens to be ordered. And the Bible indeed teaches that the man is the head of the household, but it also teaches that the man has to surrender entirely to his wife, even die for her if that's required (Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:25).
Other interesting words are δαμαιος (damaios), meaning horse-tamer, an alias of Poseidon; δαμασανδρα (damasandra), meaning subduer of men (to some perhaps reminiscent of the name Alexandra); and δαμασιφρων (damasiphron), meaning heart-subduing (spirit-quenching).
The name Damaris may simply mean Wife, or it means Subdued, or perhaps Tamed. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Gentle, which is kind but perhaps not fully synchronous.