From the name of a biblical town, Βηθανια (Bethania)
in Greek, which is probably of Aramaic or Hebrew origin, possibly meaning "house of affliction" or "house of figs". In the New Testament
the town of Bethany is the home of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. It has been in use as a rare given name in the English-speaking world since the 19th century, used primarily by Catholics in honour of Mary of Bethany. In America it became moderately common after the 1950s.