Mischievous Malaika

Twycross Zoo Signpost, from groundspeak.com

I spent the majority of my day at Twycross Zoo, where they have a new-ish baby bonobo called Malaika, who serves as an inspiration for this post. Although thinking about it, I could’ve written about the rain instead, since that’s all it’s been doing today.

Malaika comes from the arabic word malak, which means angel in Arabic. However, Malaika the bonobo had her name misspelt in a birth announcement as Malika, and that subtle difference would make her name mean queen, not angels. This is as Malika is the female form of Malik, which is the arabic word for king, not angel. Malik serves as a surname in some parts of the world, although most UK readers will just think Zain Malik, the lad in X Factor last year. In other parts of the world, such as Eygpt, Malik has been used as a title, much like the English equivalent of King.

The Turkish have the slight variant spelling of Melek, which ultimately comes from the same Arabic source. Since I’m not a Turk, I couldn’t possibly say for sure if it is pronounced differently, since they speak Arabic in Turkey. My gut says yes, however.

The Turkish Melek should not be confused with the Hebrew one, however, which comes from Melech, meaning king.

What makes Malaika a good choice of a name is how seemlessly she’ll fit in with Makayla and Mikyla. But her name is not a misspelling. The downside of this is people may believe her name to be yet another form of Michaela.

However, she is surprisingly popular in the UK, perhaps thanks to our growing Asian population, as she sits at #331 with 133 births. Michaela sits below at #355, and Mikayla right down at #805, Makayla at #850 and Mikyla with only 3 little girls to her name in 2009.

Categories: Girl Names | Tags: | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Mischievous Malaika

  1. Great name! Is it said my-LIE-kuh, or muh-LEE-ka, I wonder?

    Can definitely see this one taking off, once the chimp association has worn off a bit.


    • I guess, the other baby Bonobo is called Winton, which had me at a double take, since I initially read his name as Winston, and was congratulating the zoo staff inside before I realised my error.

      Another point to raise is that there’s also a bonobo called Keke, which the zoo lady I talked to pronounced kay-kay, whereas I would say Key-key – and she only lives down the road from me!


  2. Dearest

    I actually know a little Malak 🙂 she’s 5 I think, and a sweet little girl.
    I like the simple Malak better than Malaika, but I do see the appeal ^^


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