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.
Annika or Anika is a name used to honor the Goddess Durga among her Hindu devotees. In that regard, it’s a good crossover name for families moving between Eastern and Western cultures, as well as being simply a cute variation on the classic name Anne/Ann for the rest of us. 🙂
My name is Anikah, pronounced Ah-ni-kah, I am the only person in my school with my name, my band director remembered how to pronounce my name by remembering Annika Sörenstam, my father was a fan of hers, I’m actually named after her.
My name is Anika. I was born in 1978 and although I grew up in a once predominately Swedish area of Minnesota, it was an unusual, and often mispronounced, name at the time. I’ve since met a number of people who know a little girl named Annika, or some variation. I always ask about the spelling, pronunciation, and origin. I find the variations interesting.
My family – and our Swedish relatives – pronounce it AH-ni-ka. For clarification, I say it rhymes with Monica. Growing up, people either thought it rhymed with Anita and pronounced it Ah-NEE-ka, or emphasized the “Ann” (with a hard ‘A’) and pronounced it ANN-i-ka. Although both sound much harsher than AH-ni-ka to me, I certainly understand the other pronunciations. And obviously no single way is the right way! I definitely noticed an increase in the Swedish pronunciation after Annika S
Correction – it was Annika and Tommy who lived next door to Pippi.
I don’t know if I was thinking of another Swedish children’s book we had growing up (we had several), or my childhood recollection is incorrect! Perhaps my brother will remember.
My name is Annika! I used to hate my name, but now I like it a lot. It definitely fits me. The only thing is I have to deal with people not saying my name right on a daily basis. I’ve been called ANN-ika, OH-NEE-KUH, and everything in between. However, it is very cool and I love not having a boring name like Sarah or Allison. Btw, my middle name is Kate, and I really like the flow: Annika Kate. Hope I helped!
I would pronounce is Ann-EE-Kah, but Im from Australia.
If it was spelt with 1 ‘N’ I might say AHN-EE-KAH.
Annika makes me think of another name I love, Bianca. Would love to see that one on NotD as well. I think both are beautiful, feminine names.
this actually is my name, so it is pretty funny reading what people have been saying about it
without a doubt it is spelt Annika – two n’s & is pronounced Ann – e – car,
some people can pronounce my/the name with a different ring to it, like my family, and it is music to my ears, but others just say it without the flair!!!
I absolutely love my name, i wouldn’t change it in a million years…im incredibly proud and I feel like it gives me a sense of identitiy…
the most amazing thing is that, like the article says she is both athletic and feminine; and I am, and I also like to think that I am pretty graceful..
i was named after a swede, so the spelling is correct & i have been to sweden, denmark, gemany, etc. and everywhere it is pronounced & spelt the same as my name…
i really like the uniqueness of my name, so heres hoping not too many others use the name
If baby number 3 is a girl, her name will be Annika. Ann is a family name, but my husband doesn’t like it. He loves Annika, though, and so do I. We will probably nn her Niki.
Oooh I love the name Anika. I prefer it spelt with only one n although either way it’s beautiful. My mothers middle name is the overused Anne and my sisters name is the popular Anna. Anika may be the perfect name for a daughter 🙂
OOOH, thanks! I’ve long had a soft spot for Wilhelmina, way back to three years old and “The Electric Company” skit: Willa-Willa-Willa-Mina! (Josephine wasthisclose to beng Wilhelmina and I still think it could have worked!) You’re Fantastic! 😀
Wilhelmina will be NotD on 8/29, Lola!
Another and Kim, you’re right – that’s a quirky thing. I know a native German speaker, but I’m not sure I know anyone who speaks Swedish as a first language. I’ll have to do some digging to see if there’s an explanation – because it *seems* like most Swedish women’s names do end in a.
I knew an Anneke in college, too, Kim. She said her name “ah NEEK.” I always wondered where that was coming from …
Anneke Oosterink says
Anneke is Dutch, and in Dutch pronounced as AH-nuh-kuh. The way she pronounced her name seems like an English speaker who never heard it pronounced in Dutch. My name if pronounced by a computer alsways becomes ah-NEEK.
The -ke (more common in Friesian than in Dutch, which uses more -je) part is a diminiutive in Dutch, the same way as in Swedish -ka. Commonly used to make male names female names. Jan -> Janneke, Wietse -> Wietske, Sietse -> Sietske, Alse -> Alske etc. (-je is also used Jan – Jantje etc, but can also denote small, as in a child who is named Jan, becomes Jantje until he gets older)
Kim’s right. It really shouldn’t end in an “a”. In German, Dutch, Swedish, etc. a word that ends with “e” is pronounced the same way as English words ending in “a”.
I know a girl who spells her name Anneke (pronounced the same). She said it was the Dutch version.
It is, the -ke is the diminutive form too. Anneke is pronounced Ah/Oh-nuh-kuh. 🙂 My name too. I was named for my grandmother. There are a few, though not many, Annekes out there.
Annika is a great name . . . familiar yet (for the time being) uncommon. It’s very musical and fun to say.
I wonder how people come down on the pronunciation—ANN-ika or OHN-ika? My understanding is that both are correct. My inclination is to say ANN-ika, but I’m kind of from the south so I butcher things on a regular basis.
Regardless, it’s a fun name. I don’t think I’d use it because it’s a tad too close to Anakin, the ultimate Star Wars geek name, and I just can’t shake that association, but I love it on everybody else’s kid.
Laney McDonald says
I really love Annika! I used to think it was weird, but not anymore. It’s pretty. I like it spelled both ways, but I slightly prefer Annika. I love Russian names, partially because I am part Latvian, which is pretty close to Russian. If my kid was named Annika, I would probably call her Anna or Annie, but I couldn’t use it since my daughter’s nickname is Anya.
I really love the name Annika, it has become a recent favourite of mine. There was an Annika at my high school, but she is the only one i have met with the name.
Just like everyone else, I absolutely adore Annika! Like you said, it’s simple, yet strong and feminine. It’s a great choice for a daughter and I’d be thrilled to meet an Annika anyday!
Another, you pegged my first exposure to Annika as well, Pippi Longstocking! (I can’t recall Annika’s brother, though!) I really like her, dimunitive that she is. Sweet, upbeat, warm and pretty. If I hadn’t already used Anne (I simply adore elegant Anne) in my Josephine’s name, I might have considered Annika. I know it appeals to my other Geeky half because of Seven of Nine.
Annika aside, I have a Swedish girlfriend (we knew each other as kids) who’s as baffled by Wilma as I am. It’s too Flinstones for us two. (makes us giggle like kids on the phone). We both prefer Willa and the gorgeous Wilhelmina. Any chance of Wilhelmina being a NotD? Willa & Mina, her primary nicknames fit into current trends and aloud, Wilhelmina is light and delicate. It’s just written that she’s a dense boatload of consonants!
I really like it. I think Danica is also gaining steam, so I’m a teeny bit hesitant to use it. I would definitely use Annika over Danica, but it’s not on my short list either.
I love Annika. Wasn’t she Pippi Longstocking’s friend? When I was little, I thought it was pronounced ah-NEE-ka, probably because I knew a girl named Onieka.
I’ve known an Anika, an Annika, and an Onica, all pronounce ON-eh-ka. I think it’s a great name, and if my last name weren’t so very Swedish my husband would probably go for it. He won’t let me use Heidi, either. Too ethnic or something.