Names with Oomph: That trendy oo sound

Guest blogger Angela Mastrodonato of the blog Upswing Baby Names shows us how many of today’s coolest names contain the energetic oo sound.

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 :


Azul – Spanish for blue, this name has colorful flair. Azul entered the top 1000 in 2007 and hung on there until last year—it could very well could re-enter the top 1000 for 2012.

Gertrude – This is no girly-girl name, but that is Gertrude’s strength, along with its meaning, “spear of strength.” Adding to Gertrude’s charm are two adorable nickname options, Gertie and Trudy.

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.”

Petula – The sound is vintage but Petula is a modern invention, created by the father of 1960’s singer, Petula Clark.

Petunia – This unusual botanical name is derived from a South American Indian word, Tupi. Perhaps with such interesting origins, Petunia can move beyond its cartoon pig association.

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.

Tula – Makes a great nickname for other long-U names, Petula and Tallulah, but also striking as an independent name.

Zuleika – Exotic and adventurous, Zuleika has been associated with alluring characters in literature.


BrunoGerman for brown, Bruno is a rare male color name, with that fashionable o-ending.

Cruz – This appealing Spanish surname was publicized by Penelope Cruz and by Victoria and David Beckham’s choice for one of their sons.

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.


Rudy – Friendly, easy-going and unexpectedly fresh, Rudy has a more down-to-earth feel than its father Rudolph.

Zuri – This unisex African import entered the top 1000 in 2010 (for girls). In addition to the long U, Zuri adds some zip with a Z. This name could easily become mainstream.

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.

Angela is a hands-on Mom and big-time name enthusiast. She loves following name trends. She created the blog Upswing Baby Names to help parents find different but not too different names.

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22 Responses to “Names with Oomph: That trendy oo sound”

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CountryLizB Says:

August 8th, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Gertrude is one of my favorite names.

Mara_lyn86 Says:

August 8th, 2012 at 11:51 pm

I like a lot of the girls names listed, Gertrude, Judy, Junia, Prudence and Ruth. I still associate Petunia too much with Petunia Dursley, but I think it is cute nonetheless.

For the boys I think I only like Julius. The others are okay though.

I am not so sure about Azul. My husband is a spanish speaker and to him it is strange. I think it is weird but some may like it.

RowanaSabe Says:

August 8th, 2012 at 11:52 pm

The “oo” is the most common sound in my shortlist. I’m glad to see my main favorites didn’t make the list! But also sad to see Juniper and Luna becoming more popular.

Whit32 Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 1:30 am

Another U name I kinda like is Truitt. I know a couple men with this name, and I like it better than Truman, I think.

aunt_ning Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 6:48 am

I really like Ruth for a girl, Ruthie is such a cute nick name. Luna and Petunia make me think of Harry Potter, Luna in positive light and Petunia in a negative light of sorts. Ruby is adorable as well, but is a despised cousin of mine first name so can not be used unfortunatly.

For boys, I can see Bruno taking off thanks to Bruno Mars. Truman just makes me think of President Truman

thetxbelle Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 8:05 am

I intend to use Ulysse which has more if an “oo” sound or Ulysses for a boy one day. I really like the “oo” sound!

jellyfish Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 8:59 am

I once met a woman from Argentina named Marisa Azul, and she went by Maru. I thought it was a cool nickname for the right person (it totally fit her) – but now the name has been claimed by the YouTube-famous cat Maru!

mytimehascome2 Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 9:15 am

I think Ulyssa is a cute name. I also think Junia, Julian, Julius, Juliett and Juliana are beautiful names.

Starcatcher668 Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 10:28 am

I like Lumina with the ‘A’ at the beginning (Alumina) better. Personally I think Julissa is just over the top, and sounds like a hybrid of Julie and Melissa.
But I really like Juniper!
Overall, a really good list, though!

upswingbabynames Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 11:45 am

mytimehascome2: I like the suggestion of Ulyssa, a feminine form of Ulysses.

samipants Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

i have a friend called Una (also Oonagh)its pretty common in ireland

love the name ruby so much, aalso lumia

Mcdonak1 Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Xury (spelled like this, pronounced like Zuri) is a family name that I want to use just to keep it alive. Not sure that I’ll get the chance to use it, though.

Lucky Lindy Says:

August 9th, 2012 at 10:39 pm

From the title I thought that there would be an “Oona” entry!

I have a soft spot for the name Oona.

kalikeli Says:

August 10th, 2012 at 9:45 am

Saw a license plate driving to work yesterday that read “Luz Azul” (blue light in Spanish) right after reading this post. I don’t know what the plate signified but what a pretty name that would be!

upswingbabynames Says:

August 10th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

@ Lucky Lindy – I really like Oona too and I like that spelling more than Una. I think Oona may have been the name of Charlie Chaplin’s wife.

katybug Says:

August 10th, 2012 at 4:27 pm

My favorite guilty pleasure name of all time is Ursula. Double U!

June is the way over-the-top mother of a way over-the-top girl on the reality show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”. I wonder what affect she will have on popularity of the name June?

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

August 10th, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I like “underused classic” Louisa, and middle-name-de-jour, Susan. For boys, Julian and Ranulf.

The French do the U sound pretty well- Lilou, Minou, Kalou, Zuzu and of course Lulu.

braveangel2 Says:

August 11th, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I’ve been campaigning for Tallulah NN Tula for the last year, and I’m so gla to see it on NameBerry!!

Poppy528 Says:

August 12th, 2012 at 12:23 am

I love Tallulah (with nick name Lilou) and Ulysses very much! I think Rue and Rootie (Hebrew variant) are cute pet forms of Ruth, too. One name I never see but love is Lluviana and Lluvy (maybe you heard it on America’s Next Top Model?), lovely.

Scrambledmegs Says:

August 13th, 2012 at 1:08 am

My favorite part of Tallulah has always been the nickname Tally, so I must not like it for the OO-sound. Although I LOVE Oona. (Probably a Charlie Chaplin thing.)

Bruno is fantastic, but the movie starring Sascha Baron Cohen ruled it out for DH and I.

Kateri Says:

May 29th, 2013 at 8:00 am


ARenee Says:

December 4th, 2015 at 7:24 pm

My son’s name is Luther, after Martin Luther, and my daughter’s name is Suzette, after my late aunt. I guess if we have a third we’ll have to have another oo name. Lol it was not intentional, but other names we have thought of are Ruby and Judah!

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