The high-profile letter V is found in many stylish baby names right now, but let’s not discount the potential of its neighbor, the power vowel U. Just consider the popularity of names like Lucy, Ruby, Jude, and Luca–and there are any number of other, similar names with promise:
• June was one of the fastest rising names, climbing over 100 places to #470
• Luna broke the top 300
• Juniper broke the top 1000
• Elula became Isla Fisher and Sasha Baron Cohen’s pick for their second daughter and was one of Nameberry’s hottest baby names of 2011
Beyond those favorites, here are some other promising names that share that appealing long U (oo) sound :
Judy – When a young Judy Garland appeared in The Wizard of Oz, this diminutive of Judith was already trending upwards. Judy Garland (born Frances) helped propel the name into the Top 20 in the 1940s. Judy left the Top 1000 over a decade ago—this might be a perfect time to rediscover Judy’s spunky charm.
Julissa – No one decade can lay claim to this super feminine Julia variation. It has 1970’s style thanks to the shared ending with Melissa; it peaked in the 1990s (at #219 in 1997), and shares the ultra-feminine romance style of current hits Arianna, Isabella, Liliana, and Natalia.
Junia – An obscure Biblical name that has been in the top 1000 once, way back in 1883. This New Testament alternative to June, Juno and Juniper is just waiting to break out. There is also the male version, Junius.
Lulani – Perhaps meaning “sent from heaven” this Polynesian name also has a distinctive i- ending.
Lumina – A luminous name, Latin for “surrounded by light” or “glowing.” Swap out the M for a V to get the English Luvina, which means “one who is dearly loved.”
Prudence – A Puritan virtue name, with the added plus of being a Beatles name.
Ruth – Surprisingly uncommon on twenty-first century babies, this Biblical name is a classic example of the long-U sound.
Julius – Has gently climbed the charts, but hasn’t soared as dramatically as other Ju- boy names: Jude, Judah, and Julian. It offers a double-dose of U . Strikes a perfect balance of timeless and trendy; athletic and intellectual.
Ranulf – A dignified Scottish name with Old Norse origins, scarcely heard in the U.S.
Truman – A presidential and literary pick. Truman Capote’s most notable works were Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood. On the latter he collaborated with To Kill a Mocking Bird author Harper Lee. With Harper quickly becoming a huge success for girls, maybe Truman could catch on through association.
Ukiah – Native Americans are a terrific source for uniquely American names with an eye-catching style. Ukiah means “deep valley” and is also a town in California.
Ulysses – Considered outlandish for decades, this presidential pick could soon get the recognition it deserves. This name is bold and distinguished with mythological clout.
When paired with the right partner, U makes an impact. For example, the U shines when paired with the letter L, as in Azul, Julius, Lulani, Nebula, Petula, Tula, Ursula, Ulysses, and Zulema. The R also makes a good partner in Bruno, Cruz, Gertrude, Prudence, Ruby, Rudy, Truman, Ursula, and Zuri.
Some long U names are crowd pleasers (“Oooo, Lulani is sooo pretty!”) and some take a little guts (“What? You named my sweet granddaughter Gertrude?”), but either way, I enjoy the understated, unusual U.