If you’re searching for a name for a female character from almost any era, there’s one that’s a safe bet. Ann, Anne and Anna have been worn by so many religious, literary and historical figures that they’ve been in nearly constant use. You probably have a few among your ancestors; add in all the Mary Annes and Jennifer Anns and odds are that you can claim it as a family name.
But while Ann and her variants are classic and pleasing, they are a bit plain. Let’s turn our attention to a Scandinavian variant that preserves the original’s spirit while picking up a bit of spark. Thanks to Jess for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Annika.
Spelled Annika, it’s a Swedish diminutive of Anna. But like so many Ann-, Mary- and Rose- variants, she’s commonly bestowed independently. In the US, Annika first entered the Top 1000 quite recently, in 1995. As of 2007, she’d climbed to #380.
But that’s only part of the picture. In German, Dutch and Danish, the name also appears, but is commonly spelled Anika. In the US, Anika peeked into the Top 1000 back in 1972, reappeared twenty years later at #962 and had climbed to #481 by 2003.
Today, Anika stands at #510, less popular than the “nn” version, but common enough to potentially cause spelling confusion.
Regardless, both variants share Anna’s simple meaning – grace.
While many names are tied to fiction, Annika’s success appears to be linked to the popularity of the very real and quite capable Annika Sörenstam, the successful Swedish professional golfer. Since turning pro in 1993, she’s racked up LPGA winnings of over $22 million – a solid #1. A few parents probably heard the name on ESPN and were charmed; others might be looking for a strong role model to inspire a daughter. After all, we know at least one Jordan named in honor of Michael.
Even parents whose only experience of golf is putt-putt might recognize this name, thanks to another famous bearer. The single-n Anika Noni Rose is a Tony award winning actress who appeared in the 2006 smash hit Dreamgirls. Expect to hear more of her in the future – Ms. Rose is voicing Tiana in Disney’s next princess flick.
Sci fi fans might also know that Star Trek: Voyager’s part-Borg character called Seven of Nine, or sometimes just Seven, was born Annika Hansen. Since the show’s run – from 1995 to 2001 – coincides with the name’s rise in popularity, perhaps a few of those new Annikas were inspired by the Final Frontier.
A handful of sites credit Japanese or even Sanskrit sources for Annika and Anika. While there may be legitimate non-European roots for this name, they’re relatively obscure.
It’s worth noting that while you’ll still find newborn Annikas in Sweden and Norway today, the name is not currently in vogue. In fact, the most popular name in Sweden in 2007 was, believe it or not, Wilma.
The only possible problem is to choose between one n or two; unless your heritage prompts you to opt for a single n, we favor Annika.
To our ear, Annika is simple but not plain, cool and crisp. She sounds athletic and feminine; unusual, but not at all unfamiliar. And we like that she comes by her trendy “k” honestly, unlike torturous respellings like Kassadie and Kadalyn.
Overall, we think it’s a strong choice for a daughter.