"The Briar Maiden" by Annie French

Meaning: “Thorny shrub”
Gender: Unisex
Pronunciation: BRY-er
Origin: English and Anglo-Saxon
Other forms of the name: Brier

I’ve been noticing the Briar mentioned quite a bit on name sites lately and I’m beginning to like it more and more. My association, like many, is that of Briar Rose, aka Sleeping Beauty aka Aurora from the Disney movie. Apparently she was named Briar Rose way before Disney by the Grimm brothers in the 1800s.

A large hedge of thorns soon grew round the palace, and every year it became higher and thicker; till at last the old palace was surrounded and hidden, so that not even the roof or the chimneys could be seen. But there went a report through all the land of the beautiful sleeping Briar Rose (for so the king’s daughter was called): so that, from time to time, several kings’ sons came, and tried to break through the thicket into the palace. This, however, none of them could ever do; for the thorns and bushes laid hold of them, as it were with hands; and there they stuck fast, and died wretchedly.

After many, many years there came a king’s son into that land: and an old man told him the story of the thicket of thorns; and how a beautiful palace stood behind it, and how a wonderful princess, called Briar Rose, lay in it asleep, with all her court. He told, too, how he had heard from his grandfather that many, many princes had come, and had tried to break through the thicket, but that they had all stuck fast in it, and died. Then the young prince said, ’All this shall not frighten me; I will go and see this Briar Rose.’ The old man tried to hinder him, but he was bent upon going.” – “Briar Rose” by the Grimm Brothers, a version of Sleeping Beauty.

Briar may come from the Greek briaros meaning “sturdy”. It is also said to be an Anglo-Saxon word for a thorny shrub.

Rosa rubiginosa is a plant also referred to as Sweet Briar or Eglantine Rose. Briars or briers are thorny thickets that are common around roses and the like.

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