The name is derived from a pan-Slavic word meaning “morning star; venus.” In Slavic mythology it was borne by the personification of the morning star.
In the United States, the name seems to have appeared out of nowhere in the 1970s. In 1977, it first entered the top 1000 coming in as 924th most popular female name. Never a popular name, there have been a few well-known personages who have borne the name, leading to the now standard anglicized pronunciation of (DAN-ik-kuh). In all the Slavic languages where it is commonly used as a given name, it is pronounced (dah-NEET-sah).
Currently, it is the 424th most popular name in the United States, (2010).
Coincidentally, it is also the Latin name for Denmark, in which case it is pronounced (DAN-ik-kuh).
The name is borne by actresses Danica McKeller (b.1975) and race car driver Danica Patrick (b.1982).