McKenna: A modern favorite with Celtic roots
With its blend of tradition and modernity, McKenna offers a versatile choice for parents looking for a name that feels both trendy and grounded. Its increasing popularity and various spelling options make it a name worth considering as you explore choices for your new arrival.
The name McKenna has Celtic origins, specifically from Irish and Scottish ancestry. It’s derived from the Gaelic surname “Mac Cionaodha,” meaning “son of Cionaodh” or “son of the handsome one.”
McKenna started as a surname, but has become increasingly popular as a first name, particularly in the United States.
Variations and alternative spellings
McKenna’s popularity has given rise to several variations and alternative spellings, adding a level of customization to the name. Nicknames include Mac, Mac and Kenna.
Common spellings and gender variations
- MacKenna: This variation preserves the original sound while adding an additional ‘c’ for flair.
- Makena: Makena Beach, located on the island of Maui in Hawaii, is a renowned destination known for its natural beauty. It’s also a streamlined spelling that offers a more phonetic reading of the name.
McKenna is predominantly used for girls, but it’s not uncommon to see it used for boys, especially in its original form as a surname.
McKenna is pronounced as muh-KEN-uh, with the emphasis on the second syllable. It has three syllables. A common mispronunciation is putting the stress on the first syllable, making it sound like “MACK-en-uh” instead of “muh-KEN-uh.”
McKenna in pop culture and real life
While McKenna may not have the extensive pop culture footprint that some names carry, it has been used in various television shows, books, and movies as a fresh, modern-sounding name for characters.
In real life, McKenna Grace is a young American actress known for her roles in films like “Gifted,” and TV shows such as “The Haunting of Hill House.”
A look at McKenna’s popularity
McKenna has seen a surge in popularity in the past couple of decades, especially in the United States. According to the United States Social Security Administration, as of 2022, McKenna ranks among the top 300 names for girls, holding spot 291.
While it hasn’t broken into the top 100, its usage in the US has consistently grown since it started appearing on the charts in the late 20th century.
This baby name has also found some resonance in other English-speaking countries. However, its popularity tends to be most significant in places with a substantial Irish or Scottish diaspora, owing to its Celtic origins.
United Kingdom: The name McKenna has some usage in the United Kingdom, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where its Celtic origins are most strongly felt. However, it’s more often seen as a surname in these regions, rather than as a first name.
Canada: In Canada, McKenna has been a reasonably popular choice, although it hasn’t achieved the same level of ubiquity as in the United States. The name’s Irish and Scottish roots resonate in Canada, which has a significant population of Celtic descent.
Australia and New Zealand: In Australia and New Zealand, McKenna is also used, albeit less commonly than in North America. It’s one of many Irish and Scottish names that have made their way to these countries.
While McKenna may not be a top-ranking name globally, its unique blend of modernity and historical roots gives it a broad appeal. Its strongest foothold remains in the United States, but the name has the versatility and cultural resonance to fit in across a variety of settings.
Names you might also like
If you’re intrigued by McKenna, other names with a similar vibe include:
- MacKenzie: Another ‘Mc’ or ‘Mac’ name with Celtic origins
- Makayla: Shares the ‘Ma’ prefix and modern feel
- Kendall: A unisex name that has a similar blend of modernity and tradition
- Keira: Carries the ‘K’ sound and has Irish roots
Choosing the name McKenna offers a contemporary touch while still nodding to its Celtic roots. With its increasing popularity and various spelling options, it’s a name that provides both modern appeal and a sense of history.
Whether you go with McKenna, Mackenna, or Makena, you’re selecting a name that is versatile and has room for individual interpretation. Given its steadily rising popularity, it’s a choice that feels both trendy and rooted, making it a strong contender as you consider names for your new arrival.