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New Baby Name Trend: The Lu/Lou boys

The Lu-boys are back in town--Lucas, Luca, Luke and Louis are all trending up

By Linda Rosenkrantz

After a rash of girls’ names beginning with the ‘Loo’ sound—Lucy and Lucille and Luna and Lulu–we’re suddenly seeing an even bigger bounce for boys’ names with that beginning syllable—spelled in a variety of ways, from Luca to Lewis to Llewelyn. So could Lou be about to be the new Jake/Sam/Ben?

We’ll start with those on this year’s Top 1000 list, in order of popularity—all but one of which were up in the new rankings:

Lucas (moved into the Top 20, at Number 19, up 4 places)

Lucas is definitely heating up, along with other s-ending Latinate boys’ names, now at its highest spot ever. It’s been a mainstay for TV characters, from old TV westerns like The Rifleman to the contemporary Pretty Little Liars. An international hit, it’s currently the top name in Sweden and Belgium, #2 in France.

Luke(at Number 28, up 6 places)

The New Testament Luke is a strong but friendly name that has been another staple of pop culture—from the old soap opera couple Luke and Laura to the film Cool Hand Luke to the immortal Luke Skywalker to several current TV shows.

Luis(down 2 places to Number 99)

One of the few Hispanic boys’ names in the Top 100 (and just barely), Luis has been on the US list since records started being kept in the 1880s.

Luca(at Number 185, up 17 spots)

Still a Top 20 name in its native Italy, the charming Luca entered the US list in 200 and has been zooming upwards ever since. It’s a celebrity fave—used by Colin Firth, Hilary Duff, Vincent d’Onofrio and Jacinda Barrett.

Lukas (up 12 places to Number 230)

Lucas’s German/Scandinavian cousin is moving up as well, that ‘k’ giving it a somewhat sharper edge. Singers Willie Nelson and Kenny Loggins both used this spelling for their sons, and it’s the second most popular name in Austria.

Louis (jumped 26 places to Number 289)

Louis, Louis. Pronounced Louie or Lewis, as Louis Armstrong did, this name has had such distinguished bearers as several kings of France, chemist Pasteur, architects Sullivan and Kahn, writer Louis L’Amour, and comedian Louis C.K., as well as being the second middle name of Britain’s Prince George, and a member of One Direction. It got some recent attention when Sandra Bullock chose it for her son. Number 125 on Nameberry, Louis was in the Top 20 at the turn of the last century and remained in the Top 100 until 1960.

Luka(at Number 568, advanced 23 spots)

Another Luk-variation caught in the slipstream, Lukas have been seen on ER and The Vampire Diaries and it’s the Number 1 name in Croatia and Slovenia, 25 in Finland, and well used in France.

Luciano(moved 28 places to Number 568)

This lovely Italian classic has become operatic via the great tenor Pavarotti, would make an excellent alternative to Leonardo

Lewis(made the largest leap—up 43 places to 597)

Always popular in Scotland, where it’s currently in third place, we see this more polished version of Lewis on a trajectory to advance here as well. Its most famous bearer, Alice in Wonderland writer Lewis Carroll, was born Charles.

Lucian(up 16 places to 608)

Smooth and sophisticated, with a somewhat Continental flair, Lucian has in recent times been associated with British painter Lucian Freud; actor Steve Buscemi chose it for his son. Lucien is the French spelling.

There are other Lu-boys that are not currently on the list, though some of them have appeared in the past:

LewThe short form Lew has actually made it onto the list two times—in 1902 and 1908, but was never as popular as Lou.

Llewelyn/Llywelyn has never emigrated from Wales, perhaps because it has a somewhat feminine sound to American ears. It’s popular in Wales, where it has a distinguished history. I do like its nicknames though—Llew and Llelo.

Llewyn—Hardly heard outside the Coen brothers’ movie, Inside Llewyn Davis.

Lou has long been a standalone name for both genders, on the boys’ list through 1960, but heard more for girls, reaching Number 204 in 1954, though it’s been off since 1971. Notable males who went by Lou include baseball great Gehrig, comic actor Costello, musicians Rawls and Reed, and the fictional Lou Grant. Bear in mind that loo is a Briticism for toilet.

LouieCelebrated in the classic rock song ‘Louie, Louie,” this was a Top 300 pick until 1937, lingering till 1993. Louis CK, pronounced Louie, has brought it into current conversations.

LucThe sexy French Luc made a single appearance at the low end of the US list in 2002; it was chosen for their sons by Peter Gabriel, Sean Patrick Thomas and Dave Coulier. Like all Luc names, it’s associated with light.

LuciusAnother Latinate appellationworth considering. It belonged to three popes and figured in several Shakespeare plays, plus a number of later literary works. It reached its highest point in 1902, when it was Number 330, completely fading away in 1968.

LudovicAn interesting variation of Ludwig currently considered cool in France and known by the cute nickname Ludo in Harry Potter.

LudwigAssociated with composer Beethoven, Madeline creator Bemelmans, and philosopher Wittgenstein, Ludwig was used sparcely in the US pre-World War II. German pronunciation is LOOT-vik.

Lugh—An Irish mythological name that rhymes with Hugh.

LuigiMore recently associated with the Super Mario Bros character and the Fiat in Cars, Luigi has some more distinguished namesakes such as composer Cherubini and Nobel Prize dramatist Pirandello. It has appeared on the US list five times, between 1913 and 1969, though sometimes portrayed as a stereotypical Italian-accented immigrant.

LutherAnother Lu-name waiting to happen. Associated with such towering figures as Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Luther was a Top 500 pick until 1973, off the list since 1994. Also given some modern pizzazz by Idris Elba’s mesmerizing presence in the eponymous TV series.

 So which Lu-starting names do you like for a boy?

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10 Responses to “New Baby Name Trend: The Lu/Lou boys”

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CaitlinBrittin Says:

May 21st, 2015 at 7:28 am

I like all of these names, especially Luther! But I don’t think I would ever use any of them because I want to one day have a daughter named Louise (after my grandmother) and I think having two Lou based names in one family would be weird and probably confusing

skizzo Says:

May 21st, 2015 at 10:02 am

I like Llewellyn. I dont see how that’s remotely feminine sounding, sounds actually quite grandpa-ish.

They’re a typo on Luka – you mention Lukas instead.

HistoryGirl Says:

May 21st, 2015 at 10:55 am

What a great list. I’ve been looking at possible alternatives to Lou to honor my mom whose middle name is Lou. My favorites are Lucien and Louis, pronounced like Louie.

@skizzo: Lukas is plural as they were talking about multiple Lukas. It isn’t a typo.

headintheclouds Says:

May 21st, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Lucian, Lucas and Lewis/Louis are some of my favorite boy names- love the Lu- sound.

peach Says:

May 21st, 2015 at 9:46 pm

I really like Lucas and Louis (with French pronunciation) but would likely use them only as middles.

2ndtimemommy2014 Says:

May 22nd, 2015 at 4:51 pm

I like Luca and Lucius. And I love Luther! Also, I kinda like Lucan, which was not on the list

UselessKitty Says:

May 24th, 2015 at 9:31 am

Luther is my son’s name; obviously I love it. 🙂 I do wish it was slightly more common, because it is a great name and I would love to see it get some love.

Lucian and Lucius are favorites of mine as well.

As a side note I love Luna for girls, but would probably never use it because it’s matchy with Luther.

LuMary Says:

May 24th, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I like Louis (Lou, Louie) and Lucas for boys. I’m weary of Luke, as it is quite popular in the evangelical community. Of course, Lucas/Lukas will inevitably be shortened to Luke.

I still see far too little of Louisa, Lucinda, and Lucretia for girls. They’re great vintages, and I like Lou, Lulu, Lulie, and Lucy as nicknames.

gipro2003 Says:

May 24th, 2015 at 6:45 pm

I love most of this list. SO’s top contender for a boy is Luke and it is a bit too popular for my taste so I’ve been considering most of these alternatives. He doesn’t like any of them unfortunately.

Gender-Bending Baby Names – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

August 9th, 2017 at 10:49 pm

[…] On the boys’ side, here’s the story of how an American-French family named their son Louis (a Top 10 name in France) – after considering ALL the options. […]

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