It may be related to the Sanskrit word मञ्यरी mañjarī. Alternately, it might be of Persian origin, derived from the Persian language marvârid (مروارید), a pearl or daughter of light. The word is related to Marg from Marq or Marka meaning "chicken" (مرغ), probably because pearls looked like small bird eggs.
Margaret has been an English name since the 11th century, and remained popular throughout the Middle Ages. It became less popular between the 16th century and 18th century, but became more common again after this period, becoming the second most popular name in the United States in 1903. Since this time, it has become less common, but is still the ninth most common name for women of all ages in the United States as of the 1990 census.
It has a large number of diminutive forms in many different languages, including Maggie, Madge, Mags, Maisie, Marge, Meg, Megan, Mog, Moggie, Rita, Daisy, Greta, Gretel, Gretchen, Magee, Marg, Margot, May, Molly, Peggy and Peg.