The original name of the city was Gladbach, which is even today often applied to the town. To distinguish the town from another town of the same name (the present Bergisch-Gladbach) it took the name München-Gladbach in 1888. This spelling could lead to the fallacy, that Gladbach is a borough of Munich (München in German). So the name was changed to Mönchen Gladbach in 1950 resp. Mönchengladbach in 1960.
The origin of the town was an abbey founded in 974. It was named after the Gladbach, a narrow brook, that runs subterraneously today. The abbey and adjoining villages became a town in the 14th century. Nearby the town of Rheydt was located, which is today incorporated in Mönchengladbach.