Sometimes a name should be a name – a popular one, even – but never quite catches on.
Thanks to Sassy for suggesting Meeka as Name of the Day.
Quick, what’s the feminine version of Michael? Legions of men have worn the name. It is unimaginable that there wasn’t a common feminization in use.
Except that none of the contenders caught on until after World War II. Consider:
- Michelle, the current power name in Washington, didn’t chart in the US Top 1000 at all until the 1930s;
- Michaela was seldom heard until the rise of Kayla inspired Mikayla, Makayla and company;
- Micaela, the Italian variant of Michaela, fared even worse and dropped out of the Top 1000 entirely in 2007, even as Francesca and Adriana remained fashionable;
- Along with Noah and other ends-in-a picks for boys, Micah has risen as a masculine moniker, reaching #126 in 2007. But Micah was also #772 for girls – and has been crossing the gender line since the 1970s. While that will craze some, Micah traces his roots to the Old Testament Micaiah – bestowed upon boys and girls;
- Plenty of girls have gone by Mickey, Mickie and, taking a cue from Nikki, Mikki and Miki are sometimes seen, too;
- Variants like Michalina and Michaelette appear occasionally in US Census records;
- The actress known for playing the beloved matriarch of television’s The Waltons was named Michael Learned.
Suddenly Meeka seems as reasonable an alternative as any. She also has some international credibility:
- In Dutch, Mieke is a pet name for Maria. While the pronunciation isn’t obvious for English speakers, it is MEE kah;
- Mica is a variant of Michal, a feminine Hebrew name. In the Old Testament, she’s Saul’s daughter and David’s wife. The name is not related to Michael – instead, Michal means brook;
- Mika is the Finnish short form of Mikael – and yes, masculine in metro Helsinki;
- Mika and Miki are both Japanese feminine names. There are plenty of Japanese women wearing the names – the element mi means beauty.
A handful of women have answered to the name, including actress Mika Boorem, remembered for her recurring role on Dawson’s Creek. Meeka Reen is a minor character from a Star Wars comic.
And yet Meeka is hamstrung by her spelling. The name sounds bold, but the spelling is, well, meek. Mika, Mikka or even Myka are just as likely to be seen as variants of Micah – and pronounced accordingly. Of course, the possible confusion hasn’t stopped plenty of parents from choosing Mia and Mya.
If you can overlook the hassle of spelling and pronouncing your daughter’s name time and again – a challenge shared by many – Meeka emerges as appealingly cross-cultural. She’s simple, but sharper and more energetic than homespun options like Hannah and Clara. If you want to raise a boucning baby globe-trotter, Meeka could be one to consider.