I wrote to you in 2010 asking for your help naming my son (Baby Boy: Oliver, Hazen, Luca?) and I seem to be finding myself in need of your advice again! We are now expecting baby # 2 (a girl) at the beginning of October. We have just one name for a first name in mind (it was also on our list for our son) but I’m worried that we are going to cause our daughter issues in the future. My husband is dead set on it and I’m about 95% there – the name is Luca, although we’ve been discussing spelling it with two c’s, Lucca, as a nod to the town in Italy my husband’s family is from. We had considered this name for our son but at the time couldn’t commit because I thought people might perceive it as too feminine. NOW I’m worried about giving a stereotypically male name to my daughter (what is my problem!?) and causing her issues if she ever travels to or lives in Europe, specifically Italy, where it’s strictly a male name (I could be reaching here with my anxiety but a lot of my family lives in Germany). We had also considered Lucia pronounced Loo-sha but we are kind of over it now.
Additionally, we are having a hard time deciding on the spelling. We’ve been leaning towards Lucca but the more I look at it the more I’m afraid people will pronounce it “Luck-ah”. On the other hand, Luca just looks so much more masculine to me. I think the double c really softens the look of it.
Last but not least we need middle name help. Some names we are considering:
Marie – this is my middle name as well as my mom’s and both grandmothers. I think it flows nicely with Lucca but my husband doesn’t like it. He thinks it’s just a place filler when you can’t come up with anything better and it’s overused.
Vienne – I just heard this name for the first time and thought it was beautiful. However, two place names might be a bit much.
Vivienne- similar to Vienne but well known and I think it’s pretty. Has a nice tie in to my first name which also ends in ienne.
Mattea – I’ve loved this name since I was pregnant with my son and still do. But is it too much? I fear with our really Italian last name it might be too sing songy and ethnic sounding.
To sum up my long email:
– are we doing our daughter a disservice by giving her a boy’s name? I know a lot of girls are getting boy names these days but some people I’ve run the name by have been adamant that it would be like naming a girl Tim.
– should it be spelled with one or two c’s? How would you pronounce Lucca?
– thoughts on a middle name or new suggestions? I feel like we need something really feminine to balance the male first name.
There are no other names that have that spark for us but I need to know this wouldn’t be a mistake. Thanks for your help again!
I would strongly advise against spelling the name Lucca: it absolutely looks like it would be pronounced LUCK-uh (as in buccaneer and yucca), or maybe LOO-chuh (as in Gucci, Puccini, cappuccino). Would Luka feel more feminine to you?
Luca is indeed a male Italian name (and with an Italian surname it would read even more clearly male)—and yet one of my usual hesitations about the name is that in U.S. English it looks and sounds more feminine. The recently popularity of the name Lucy for girls increases this effect, as does the common practice of making a male name into a female name by adding an -a (Paul/Paula, Carl/Carla, Eric/Erica, Michael/Michaela, Philip/Philippa).
And yet, I find it gives me an unpleasant feeling to imagine using it for a girl. I think it’s because it seems like a mistake rather than like a deliberate boy-name-for-a-girl. That is, if you named your daughter Noah, I would know that you knew Noah was a name used mostly for boys, and that you were using it because of or in spite of this. But if you named your daughter Luca, I would think, “Oh, dear—are they doing this on purpose, or did they hear the name somewhere and not realize it’s a male name in Italy?” Being used for boys in Italy doesn’t mean it can’t be used for girls in the U.S., of course, and many names cross gender lines when they cross international borders—but it’s the sort of thing I’d want to take into account ahead of time. And in this case, Luca is used more for boys in the United States, too: in 2012 there were 1600 new baby boys named Luca, 222 new baby boys named Lucca, and 370 new baby boys named Luka.
But you wouldn’t be at all alone in using the name for a girl: 64 baby girls were given the name in the U.S. in 2012, and another 40 were named Lucca, and another 20 were named Luka. None were named Tim (though 5 were named Timothy)—so it’s definitely not equivalent.
Still, I wouldn’t, especially with an Italian surname. Perhaps it would make a good middle name?
You mentioned that you’ve considered Lucia; here are a few other options:
Luna seems like a particularly good option: very similar in sound to Luca, and similarly exotic, but used only for girls in the United States.
My own favorite would be Bianca: beautiful, Italian, underused. Oliver and Bianca is such a pleasing combination, it makes me feel like getting PUSHY.
If you do use Luca, I like your idea of going with a strictly-used-for-girls middle name. I like Luca Marie for the family tie-in, but it sounds like your husband isn’t going to bend on that. From the rest of the list, my favorite is Luca Vivienne—but because your son has a middle name of significance, I think I’d rather look for a significant middle name for your daughter, too. Are there any women in your family you’d like to honor?
I like Mattea even better as a first name option. It’s about as uncommon in the U.S. as Luca (47 new baby girls named Mattea in 2012, and another 38 named Mataya, and another 21 named Matea)—but traditionally used for girls, and without thousands of boys sharing the name.
And there are so many other very pretty Italian names for girls. If I were you, I’m not sure I could resist them: Gianna! Claudia! Francesca! Elena! Marilena! (Bianca!)
I also love Juliette as a first name. Oliver and Juliette is great.
Name update! A. writes:
I wanted to close the loop on what we ended up naming our daughter. It seems my idea of using Lucca for a girl really stirred things up! I appreciated all the feedback (good and bad) -it gave my husband and me lots to think about. Our beautiful daughter was born October 13th and can you believe she went unnamed for 8 days! When all was said and done, our list at the hospital came down to Lucca for my husband and Mattea or Juliette for me. My husband didn’t want to use Mattea but by day 7 was willing to compromise (I didn’t feel right about doing that though knowing he would need time to come around to it). Juliette was vetoed because we stupidly forgot to consider that our daughter has a two year old cousin named Julian. AND…what everyone is waiting to know…in the end I just could not do it. I felt so unsettled about the idea of naming her Lucca. It didn’t help that my husband’s family had a surprisingly extremely negative reaction to even the idea of naming her Lucca when we told them what we were considering. With the pressure to make a decision weighing heavily on us we even resorted to naming her Lucia for a day as a compromise. We told some people it was her name and then changed our minds the very next day.
I think I struggled to make a decision because when I saw her precious dainty face after being born I knew my baby needed something truly feminine and beautiful to fit her. Our list was not cutting it and Lucca was definitively out. There was one name that my husband kept mentioning throughout my pregnancy but it was always on the back burner for me. I wasn’t sure it was my style, perhaps almost too girly, and I worried it was too popular despite only ever meeting one person with the name. However with our nameless baby eating away at us we finally began to take a look at some other names and this one popped back up. In the end this name suddenly just clicked and I can’t believe it took me 8 days to know this was “the one”. It’s gorgeous and feminine just like her. I get a thrill hearing her name and seeing it written!
Our daughter is Leila Vienne! (Pronounced lay-lah in case there’s any confusion.). Funnily enough the name is so fitting as one of its meanings is dark haired beauty. I’d say our Leila is just that. Thanks for everyone’s help!