She’s a Slavic goddess driven to success.
Thanks to Fran for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day, Danica – and to Leith for suggesting the update!
Danica first appeared in the US Top 1000 in 1977, and remained on the edges of the rankings through 1995. Her sound fit right in with the times:
- Jessica had pit-stopped at #4, on her way to #1.
- Erica stood at #38.
- Monica ranked #39.
- Danielle was #31.
- Borrowed-from-the-boys Dana came in at #62.
Speaking of boys, Daniel ranked #11 in 1977, and has been in or just outside the US Top Ten ever since.
Parents could have cobbled together Danica from Dan- and -ica, but that’s not the case. Instead, they discovered her.
She comes from Slavic folklore. It means morning star, and some accounts claim that she’s a goddess, roughly equivalent to Venus. Except that written records of Slavic mythology are nearly non-existent, and it isn’t clear if she was a goddess, or more of a poetic way to refer to the day. Given the geographic area covered and the centuries spanned, there might be more than one answer. Still, it makes for a lovely meaning, a night owl name at home with Stella and Twyla.
There’s also more than one pronunciation for Danica. Head to Eastern Europe and she’s DAH nee tzah.
In the US, she’s definitely DAN eh kah, thanks in part to two famous Danicas:
- First there’s Danica McKellar. You know her as Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years, and more recently as mom to baby Draco. She’s also the author of a bestselling series aimed to encourage girls to embrace math.
- Then came Danica Patrick. She’s not the first woman to take the lead in American auto racing, but she’s been especially successful. In 2005, she was Rookie of the Year. A few years later, Patrick took home a win in the Indy Japan 300, making her the first woman to win an Indy car race. She holds a bunch of other first-for-a-woman records, too.
Patrick and McKellar lend Danica a certain tomboy toughness.
There’s also actress Danica Stewart, who you might have spotted on a soap opera.
A fun fact: she’s the Latin name for Denmark. There’s a china pattern called Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica. If you’re looking for a very subtle nod to your Danish heritage, she’s a clever option.
While this name doesn’t require a nickname, there are plenty of possibilities: Danna, Dani, Nicky, Nica.
All of this makes for a name that is familiar, thanks to the famous Danicas, but remains relatively rare. She made it as high as #307 in 2007, but slipped to #511 in 2012. Blame it on Jessica and Danielle – the same sounds that made her seem attractive in the 1970s now push parents away from this lovely name.
That’s good news if you’re after a familiar-but-uncommon name. Danica makes for an unexpected way to honor anyone with a Dan- name, male or female. It could be nod to Slavic heritage, or maybe even Danish roots. Or she’s just a plain old great name – the kind of underused gem that so many parents seek.