The word marionette was borrowed in 1645 from Middle French marionnette, which literally translates to "little little Mary". It comes from the name Mariole and the diminutive suffix -ette (the l was changed to an n because of influence from the name Marion), and Mariole is itself a diminutive of Mary. Apparently, during the Middle Ages in France, it was popular to put on string puppet shows of biblical events, and one of the more popular puppets was the Virgin Mary, hence the name. Mary, which is also the source of Marion as well as a bunch of other names (including Maria, Molly, Polly), has a disputed origin but is commonly said to be from an Aramaic word meaning "rebellion". According to Google Ngrams, usage of the name has remained constant in recent centuries, but made up a much larger share of overall baby names in the early-to-mid twentieth century.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.