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fem. proper name, from Latin (Maria) Magdalena, from Greek Magdalene, literally "woman of Magdala," from Aramaic Maghdela, place on the Sea of Galilee, literally "tower." The vernacular form of the name, via French, has come to English as maudlin.
a surname derived from Magdala, the place of her nativity, given to one of the Marys of the Gospels to distinguish her from the other Marys (Matt. 27:56, 61; 28:1, etc.). A mistaken notion has prevailed that this Mary was a woman of bad character, that she was the woman who is emphatically called "a sinner" (Luke 7:36-50). (See MARY.)