She’s the lovely, classic and underused feminine form of an enduring appellation – and a super-trendy choice heard everywhere.
Thanks to Helke for suggesting Micaela as Name of the Day.
I can almost guarantee you know someone named Michael. Probably lots of someones named Michael. Nearly 2.4 million Michaels were born between 1950 and 1979. (Compare that to around 750,000 Daniels in the same era.) From Michael Jordan to Michael J. Fox, there are famous Michaels galore.
Just Michael, Micaela comes from the Hebrew Mikha’el and means “who is like God?” (The answer is, of course, no one is like God. Though basketball fans might argue that Jordan came close.) Michaela is more common in English; Micaela in Italian and Spanish.
But neither spelling tops the popularity charts in the US today. Instead, Micaela is likely to be spelled:
- Makayla (#47 in 2007)
- Mikayla (#182 in 2007)
- Mckayla (#620 in 2007)
- Mikaela (#662 in 2007)
- Makaila (#909 in 2007)
Michaela charted at a respectable #343, but Micaela failed to chart at all.
So which is she – trendy and fleeting or underused classic? Micaela and company sit at the convergence of a few trends:
- The craze for Italian-inspired appellations for girls, including Olivia, Adriana and Francesca;
- The adoption of gender-neutral surname picks for girls, like Madison, Mackenzie and Mackenna;
- American parents’ affection for the “ay” sound, heard from Jayden to Cadence to Hailey to Caleb.
Factor in the number of men named Michael, and it is little wonder plenty of parents went searching for a related name for their daughters. Lots landed on Michelle, and a few on other variants, like Meeka. But starting in the 1960s, some parents opted for Micaela.
The name got a boost from television’s Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Set in the 1860s, Dr. Quinn was a well-heeled lady physician from the big city who went West to establish a practice in Colorado. Against the odds, Michaela Quinn becomes part of her new community – and earns the nickname Dr. Mike in the process.
When the show debuted, Michaela stood at #288. A year later, Michaela shot up to #169 and reached #109 by 1994. She’s lost ground as the variant spellings have gained, but remains reasonably common.
Micaela is also the sweet young girl in the opera Carmen – she loses her beloved to the temptress.
Bearers of the name in real life make for a relatively short list. There’s Michaela May, the German actress and wildlife documentary filmmaker Michaela Denis. But a girl named Micaela or Michaela might argue that she’s wearing a nicely underused name.
Despite Micaela’s classic, even operatic roots, it is impossible to imagine choosing this name and not facing a lifetime of correcting the spelling. She’s a valid choice, but perhaps one best avoided if you’re not willing to introduce your child as, “Micaela, M-I-C …” during her formative years.
Too bad, because Micaela is undeniably lovely.