The name is of uncertain origin or derivation, but some have connected it with the Latin monere meaning “to advise” or the Greek monos meaning, “one.”
The name was popularized by St. Monica of Hippo (the mother of St. Augustine) who was believed to have been of Berber extraction but was also a citizen of Carthage. For these reasons, many have suggested that the name is actually a name of North African or Phoenician origins and its meaning has been lost to history.
Monica has been a very popular saint amongst Catholics since the early Middle Ages, so the name has always been in usage in Catholic countries. In the English-speaking world, the name did not really catch on until the 18th-century. In 1977, she peaked in the U.S. popularity charts, coming in as the 39th most popular female name. Currently, she is the 34oth most popular female name (2009). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:
- # 72 (Slovenia, 2005)
- # 10 (Slovakia, 2004)
- # 94 (Spain, 2008)
Other forms of the name include:
- Mònica (Catalan)
- Monika (Amazigh/Croatian/Czech/Estonian/German/Kabyle/Latvian/Lithuanian/Maltese/Norwegian/Polish/Slovak/Slovene/Swedish)
- Monica (Danish/Dutch/English/Italian/Romanian/Romansch/Swedish)
- Moonika (Estonian)
- Mooni (Estonian)
- Monique (French)
- Mónika (Hungarian)
- Mônica (Portuguese)
- Mónica (Spanish)
German short forms are Mona and Moni and a Polish diminutive is Monia.
The designated name-days are: May 4 (Hungary/Lithuania/Poland/Sweden), May 7 (Slovakia), May 21 (Czech Republic), June 13 (Estonia), August 27 (Germany), October 6 (Latvia).