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Mackenzie Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Mackenzie including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Mackenzie Overview

  • Meaning: Son of Kenneth, Fire-Born, Wise One.
  • Gender: Unisex.
  • Origin: Scottish and Irish Gaelic.
  • Pronunciation: “Mac-KEN-zee”
  • Popularity: A popular girls’ name and fairly popular boys name.
  • Nicknames: Ken, Kenz, Kenzie, Mac, Mack, Zenzie.
  • Variations: Mackensie, Makenzie, Mackynzie, McKenzie, Mickenzie.
  • Namesakes: Mackenzie Astin, Mackenzie Bowell, Mackenzie Crook, Mackenzie Harvey, Mackenzie Phillips.

What Does Mackenzie Mean?

Mackenzie is a name with several meanings. At its most basic, it’s Gaelic for ‘Son of Kenneth.’

That’s because Mac is a preface used by several Celtic clans to connote lineage and familial inheritance. ‘Kenzie’ is a reworking of ‘Cináed,’ or the Anglicized Kenneth (1).

But Kenneth in Gaelic is ‘Cainnech’ or ‘Cináed.’ The name breaks into two parts. Cin comes from the Old English word ‘cennan,’ which got borrowed into Gaelic and means ‘to teach’ or ‘to know’ (2).

The second syllable, -áed, comes from the Erse word meaning ‘fire’ (3).

For that reason, MacKenzie can also mean ‘Fire born’ or ‘One with wisdom.’

What is the Origin of the Name Mackenzie?

However you interpret the meaning of Mackenzie as a name, it is unequivocally a Celtic boy name. Specifically, it is Scottish or Irish.

You can see this when parsing the name since other Celtic-influenced languages like Welsh use different words for concepts like ‘fire’ or ‘knowledge’ (4).

But the other significant difference is in the letter blends and sound changes you encounter, especially in Welsh.

For a long time, Mackenzie was predominantly a surname. The Mackenzies were among many highland clans integral to the Highlands and Islands (5). Historians believe the clan dates back as far as the 12th century.

Since then, Mackenzie transitioned from a surname to a first name, though, it depends on the part of the world you live in.

How Popular is the Name Mackenzie?

The popularity of Mackenzie has varied over the years and depends significantly on the gender of the baby.

Popularity of Mackenzie as a Girl’s Name

Mackenzie was popular in the mid-1970s, ranking 838 out of 1000 for girls’ names in 1976 (6).

It had a short-lived surge in popularity in 1977-8, rising from approximately 200 places to 664. But by 1979, Mackenzie again ebbed in popularity.

It remained modestly popular during the 1980s but began to rise in parental favor. Mackenzie became a popular name in 1993 when it became 113 of the 500 most popular girls’ names.

Mackenzie’s rise in popularity continued, and by 1995 it was a prevalent name, ranking 88 out of the 100 most popular names for girls in North America.

It reached its heyday in 2003, becoming the 45 most popular name for girls. Mackenzie occupied this spot on the charts through 2004, but its popularity declined after this. By 2009, it was 77 out of 100.

While still a popular name, Mackenzie is no longer in the top 50 or even the top 100 girls’ names. Instead, it is the 123 most popular girls’ name.

Popularity of Mackenzie as a Boys’ Name

Interestingly, while Mackenzie can be and does get used as a boys’ name, it never enjoyed the same degree of popularity as a male name in North America. Even at the height of its popularity, in 1993, it was only a popular name. At the time, the use of Mackenzie as a boys’ name was the 402 most popular boys’ name out of 500 (7).

By 2001, the masculine usage of Mackenzie fell to 914 out of 1000. Since then, there has been insufficient data to estimate its current popularity.

How Do I Pronounce Mackenzie?

Mackenzie has three syllables. The stress falls on the middle syllable. So you pronounce Mackenzie “Mac-KEN-zee.”

Despite this, you elide the C at the end of Mac- and the K at the start of -KEN for ease of pronunciation.

The E of -KEN is an EH sound, like the ‘A’ in ‘Fate.’

Is Mackenzie a Boy or Girl Name?

Mackenzie’s origins as a surname make it a gender-neutral name suitable for boys and girls. As a rule, Mackenzie is more commonly a boys’ name in Britain than North America.

However, in North America, you are more likely to encounter young girls named Mackenzie.

Variations of Mackenzie

While not a name given to variations in other languages, there are several English and Celtic language variations on Mackenzie. These include:

  • Mackensie (English)
  • Makenzie (English)
  • Mackynzie (English)
  • McKenzie (Erse)
  • Mickenzie (English, Erse)

Nicknames for Mackenzie

Like Mackenzie, many of its associated nicknames are gender-neutral. The most popular nicknames for Mackenzie are:

  • Kaz
  • Ken
  • Kenz
  • Kenzie
  • Mac(k)
  • Zenzie

Similar Names to Mackenzie

There are a variety of names similar to Mackenzie that share a similar origin or meaning. These are often more obviously gendered names, though not always.

For Boys

Parents who considered Mackenzie for a boy also liked the names:

For Girls

While parents who considered naming a daughter Mackenzie also favored:

Middle Names for Mackenzie

Many middle names work well when paired with Mackenzie. Here are some of parents’ favorites.

For Boys

Popular middle names for boys named Mackenzie are:

For Girls

The most common middle names for girls named Mackenzie are:

Sibling Names for Mackenzie

Parents who named a child Mackenzie frequently considered the

following names for other children.

For a Brother

Some of the most common names for brothers of Mackenzie are:

For a Sister

While popular names for sisters of Mackenzies include:

Famous People Named Mackenzie

History is full of notable Mackenzies. Some of the most famous are:

  • Mackenzie Astin: American actor.
  • Sir Mackenzie Bowell: British-born Canadian prime minister.
  • Mackenzie Crook: British actor.
  • Mackenzie Harvey: Australian cricket player.
  • Mackenzie Phillips: American actress.

Mackenzie in Popular Culture

The popularity of Mackenzie as a name even permeated popular culture. The best-known fictional Mackenzies include:

  • Mackenzie: Animated character in Australian cartoon ‘Bluey.’
  • Mackenzie Boyd: Character in long-running British soap opera ‘Emmerdale.’
  • Mackenzie Calhoun: Character from the TV series ‘Star Trek: New Frontier.’
  • Mackenzie Hollister: Character in book series ‘Dork Diaries.’
  • Mackenzie McHale: Character in the TV show ‘The Newsroom.’

Mackenzie FAQs

Want to know more about the name Mackenzie? Here are other questions parents frequently ask about the name Mackenzie.

What Is the Motto of Clan Mackenzie?

The Mackenzie clan’s motto is ‘Luceo non uro,’ which is Latin for ‘I shine but do not burn.’

Is Mackenzie a First or Last Name?

Mackenzie originated as a Celtic surname. Over time it has come to be a given name in its own right.

Does Mackenzie Change Spelling Depending on Gender?

No. Mackenzie is a unisex name and is spelled the same whether functioning as a boys’ or girls’ name.

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