Michael is an ancient name that has been wildly popular around the world for decades. It 's derived from a Hebrew name – spelled Mikha'el – that means "Who is like God?"
Michael first appeared in the Old Testament book of Numbers. This ubiquitous boy 's name is more than 2,500 years old – one of the oldest names still in common use today.
Michael is also an archangel (an angel of high rank) who appears in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Quran. A protector against evil, he is venerated as Saint Michael in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and other faiths.
If you take a closer look at the name Michael, you can see how the meaning is derived. The original Hebrew name is made up of three words. Mi translates as "who," kha translates as "like," and el refers to power and authority, but is often used in reference to God. The question posed by the name is meant to be rhetorical, implying that there is none like God.
The name Michael is typically used with this spelling and pronounced "my-kuhl" in the United States. But since this name is popular worldwide, there are numerous pronunciations and spellings in use around the world. Variations include:
Michael has been a popular name in the United States for more than 120 years, and – amazingly – was either the first or second most popular boy's name in the country from the years 1954 until 2008.
Though it 's been in the top 60 names for boys on the Social Security Administration (SSA) list since 1900, Michael experienced a notable increase in popularity in the late '30s and early '40s during World War II. This may have to do with the fact that in the Catholic Church, the archangel Michael is the patron saint of soldiers, marines, and paratroopers.
Recently, Michael has declined in popularity, but only slightly. In 2017, Michael dropped out of the SSA's top 10 names for boys – but it 's still in the top 20.
Michael is traditionally a boy 's name, but every year a handful of parents give baby girls the name. There are many feminine versions of Michael as well, including Michaela, Makayla, and Michelle. And Michael has plenty of easy nicknames – Mike, of course, but also Mikey, Mick, Mickey, and Mika.
Since its first appearance in the Bible, Michael has been the name of saints, kings and emperors, athletes, and musicians. It's no wonder this name has been popular among parents, and will likely remain popular for hundreds of years to come.
Michael I of Russia : First Russian Tsar of the house of Romanov
Michael Jackson : The "King of Pop," whose work as a singer, songwriter, and dancer earned him more awards than any other musician in history
Michael Jordan : Professional basketball player considered by many to be the most talented basketball player in history
Michael Bolton : American singer and songwriter who rose to popularity in the 1970s
Michael Keaton : Batman, Betelgeuse, and Birdman star who began his career working on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Michael Bublé : Singer and songwriter known around the world for his jazz albums
Michael Caine : Award-winning English actor known for his roles in Alfie, The Italian Job, and Hannah and Her Sisters
Michael Douglas : Oscar-winning actor known for his roles in Fatal Attraction, Wall Street, and Disclosure
Michael Faraday : Scientist who made major contributions to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry
Michael Fassbender : Actor known for his roles in X-Men: First Class, 12 Years a Slave, and The Counselor
Michael J Fox : Back to The Future and Family Ties actor and philanthropist advocating for a cure for Parkinson 's disease
Michael Phelps : Olympic swimmer and the most awarded Olympian in history
Michael Rosen : Award-winning children's author known for his books Sad Book, Quick, Let 's Get Out of Here, and No Breathing in Class
Michael Bloomberg : Businessman and former mayor of New York City
Michael Dukakis : Politician and former presidential candidate
Michael Pompeo : U.S. Secretary of State from 2018 to 2021
Michael Chang : Youngest male tennis player to win a Grand Slam tournament
Michael Hutchence : Australian musician, actor, and lead singer of INXS
Michael Moore : Documentary filmmaker known for Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael J. Fox : actor
Michael Jackson : musician
Michael Jordan : basketball player
Michael Phelps : swimmer
Michael Douglas : actor
Michael Caine : actor
Michael Keaton : actor
Michael Landon : actor
Michael Clifford : musician