Meaning: “who is like God?”
One of the most prevalent male names in the Western World, and to a certain extent, the Middle Eastern world, the name is derived from a rhetorical Hebrew question מִיכָאֵל (Mikha’el) meaning “who is like God?” or “who is like El” the answer being that no one is like God.
This is in reference to the legend of when one of God’s most powerful angels, (Lucifer depending on the theological tradition), became so arrogant and prideful that he built an army of angels in order to overthrow the throne of God, thinking that he himself could be like God, Michael is believed to have smite the fallen angel, asking him the question “who is like God?” after casting him out of the gates of heaven.
According Mormon saint theology, “who is like God?” refers to the idea that Michael was Adam before he was created by God in human form. The meaning of the name explains that all humans are created in God’s image.
Michael is believed to be a powerful angel in Islamic, Christian and Jewish tradition. He appears several times in the Bible, being mentioned in the Book of Daniel, the Book of Jude and the Book of Revelations. He even appears in the apocryphal Book of Enoch.
In Roman Catholicism, Michael is referred to as St. Michael the Archangel and is considered a powerful saint, especially powerful against demonic attacks and is the patron saint of chivalry, the warrior, police officers, paratroopers, firefighters, soldiers and fighter pilots. Among German Catholics, he is the patron saint of Germany, and in Belgium, he considered the patron saint of Brussels.
In the Eastern Christian tradition, is known as Taxiarch Archangel Michael or simply as Archangel Michael.
In Jewish tradition, Michael is the protector and heavenly warrior of Israel and the advocate of the Jews.
In Islam, he is mentioned in the Qu’ran once, in Sura 2:98 and that Michael was a good angel who stood on the left hand of God (Allah’s) throne.
The archangel is also important in the Bahai faith and the New Age religions.
He plays a role in John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost.
There is no reason to explain why Michael is so popular, especially in the U.S. As of 2008, Michael was the 2nd most popular male name. He was moved down from the 1st position down to the 2nd position back in 1999, when he was overthrown by Jacob.
Between the years 1954 and 1999, Michael was the most popular male name. The lowest that Michael ever ranked in U.S. naming history was in 1892 when he came in as the 59th most popular male name in the United States. In other countries, Michael’s rankings are as follows:
- # 36 (Australia, 2007)
- # 36 (Canada, B.C. 2008)
- # 4 (Denmark, 2009)
- # 52 (England/Wales, 2008)
- # 10 (Ireland, 2007)
- # 239 (the Netherlands, 2008)
- # 33 (Scotland, 2008)
The Michael form is also used in Afrikaans, Danish, Czech, German and Ripoarisch.
Other forms of the name include:
- Mëhill/Mhill (Albanian)
- Mighel (Amazigh/Moroccan)
- Mikhael/Mikail ميخائيل, (Arabic/Coptic)
- Miguel (Aragonese/Galician/Portuguese/Spanish: mee-GEL)
- Mikael Միքաել (Armenian)
- Micael (Asturian)
- Mikayıl (Azeri)
- Mikel (Basque)
- Mitxel (Basque)
- Miquèu (Bearnais/Occitanian/Gascon/Provençal)
- Mickaël (Breton)
- Mikael (Breton/Finnish/Icelandic/Norwegian/Swedish: a Finnish diminutive form is Mika)
- Mihail Михаил (Bulgarian/Russian: Misha is the most common diminutive form)
- Michjeli (Calabrian: Chjeli is the diminutive mee-KYAY-lee)
- Miquel (Catalan: mee-KEL. Quelo is a common diminutive form)
- Myghal (Cornish)
- Michal (Czech/Slovak: mee-HAHL: 15th most popular male name in the Czech Republic-2007)
- Mihajlo/Mihovil (Croatian: diminutive form is Miho)
- Mihail Михаил (Croatian/Serbian)
- Mikkel (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish: 6oth most popular male name in Norway-2007)
- Maikel (Dutch: MY-kel)
- Michaël (Dutch/Frisian: mee-kah-EL)
- Michiel (Dutch: 307th most popular male name in the Netherlands-2008)
- Miikael/Mikhel (Estonian)
- Mikko (Finnish)
- Michel (French: MEE-shel)
- Michêl (Fruilian)
- Mícheál (Gaelic-Irish)
- Mìcheal (Gaelic-Scotch)
- Micheil (Gaelic-Scotch)
- Mikheil მიხეილი (Georgian)
- Mikhael/Mikhalis Μιχάλης/Μιχαήλ (Greek: Μίκης (Mikis) is the common pet form))
- Mikala (Hawaiian)
- Micha’el מִיכָאֵל, (Hebrew)
- Mihály (Hungarian: 60th most popular male name in Hungary-2008. Misi and Miska are the most common pet forms. MEE-hie)
- Mikhael (Indonesian)
- Michea (Italian: obscure/archaic mee-KAY-ah)
- Michele (Italian: mee-KAY-lay)
- Michelino (Italian: obscure)
- Miķelis/Mihails (Latvian)
- Mykolas (Lithuanian)
- Mikail (Malayalam)
- Mikiel (Maltese)
- Mikaere (Maori)
- Migueltzin (Nahuatl)
- Michè (Neopolitan)
- Miché/Michi (Norman)
- Miqueu (Occitanian)
- Mikhailu Мїхаилъ (Old Church Slavonic)
- Michał (Polish/Sorbian: mee-HOW)
- Mihai/Mihail (Romanian: diminutive form is Mihaita)
- Micheli/Mikelli/Migali (Sardinian)
- Mihailo Михаило (Serbian)
- Miceli (Sicilian: Celi is a diminutive form. mee-KAY-lee)
- Miha (Slovene: originally a diminutive form of Mihael, now used exclusively as an independent given name, it was the 11th most popular male name in Slovenia-2005)
- Mihael (Slovene: 86th most popular male name in Slovenia-2005)
- Mikâil (Turkish)
- Mikhailo/Mykhailo Михайло (Ukrainian)
- Michełe (Venetian)
- Meical (Welsh)
English diminutive forms are: Mick, Micky, Mike and Mikey. German diminutive forms are Maik (pronounced like Mike), Maiki, Michi and Micki. A Swiss-German dialectical diminutive is is Michu (Bern)
There are also forms that mean “Michael Archangel” and are used in reference to the angel. These are:
- Michelangelo (Italian)
- Michelarcangelo (Italian)
- Michelangiolo (Romansch)
- Mihangel (Welsh)
Michelangela is an Italian feminine form.
An Italian smush is Michelantonio.
The feminine form of Michelle (an English corruption of the French feminine form Michèle), has been used in the English speaking world since the early 20th-century.
It currently ranks in as the 103rd most popular female name, and the highest it peaked was # 2, in the years 1968, ’69 and again in ’71, ’72.
Its Latinate feminine form has recently sparked in popularity as well (see Michaela for more details)
Other feminine forms include:
- Micaela (Asturian)
- Mikelle (Basque)
- Miquèla (Bearnais)
- Mikaela (Breton)
- Miquela (Catalan/Occitanian/Gascon/Provençal)
- Michelle (English/German: a phonetic corruption of the French Michèle)
- Michèle (French)
- Michéline (French: mee-shay-LEEN)
- Michaelina/Michaeline (Irish: an Irish corruption of the French Micheline and the Italian, Michelina, common diminutive form is Micki/Micky. MY-keh-LEEN-ah; MY-keh-LEEN)
- Michela (Italian: mee-KAY-lah)
- Michelina (Italian: mee-kay-LEE-nah)
- Michalina (Polish: mee-ha-LEE-nah: Michalinka and Misia are the diminutive forms)
- Miguela (Spanish)
- Miguelina (Spanish)
The designated name-day for Michael is September 29.