Despite his -a ending, he’s a 21st century sensation for boys.
Thanks to Jenna for suggesting Luca as our Baby Name of the Day.
A trio of celebrity parents have boys bearing the same two names:
- Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth and his Italian director wife Livia Giuggioli have boys Luca and Matteo;
- Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio has sons Dante, Luka Bodhi, and Mateo Lev;
- E!’s Kristin dos Santos is also mom to two boys called Luca Alexander and Matteo Tomaz.
Americans are far more accepting of vowel-endings for boys’ names in general these days. A generation or two back, grandpa Diego was honored with a grandson Jimmy. Today, chances are parents will preserve the original form.
Luca is the Italian form of the saintly, enduring Luke. Luke has been in the US Top 100 since 1992, and currently ranks #48. The Latin Lucas was less popular throughout the twentieth century, but has eclipsed shorter form in recent years, and now ranks #39.
And then there’s Luca at #282. He first appeared in the Top 1000 in 2000, and has climbed every year since, thanks to a few influences:
- With Biblical picks like Joshua and Noah in the US Top Ten in recent years, other ends-in-a options begin to appeal;
- Suzanne Vega’s 1987 hit single Luka doubtless put the name in parents’ minds. Vega said she chose the name because ” … it’s universal. It could be a girl or boy and it could be any nationality.” The song is sweet and upbeat, despite Luka’s status as a child abuse victim;
- From victim to villain, The Godfather’s brutal Luca Brasi is a terrifying figure, Don Corleone’s chief enforcer. He’s even more vicious in the novel. Still, the mafioso lends Luca a certain edge;
- When George Clooney left ER, Serbian actor Goran Visnjic was hired to pick up the scalpel. As Dr. Luka Kovač, he quickly became a staple at County General Hospital.
There’s also Luca della Robbia, a fifteenth century Italian sculptor known for adorning the exteriors of buildings with his work, a piece of which is pictured above.
Opt for the k spelling, and the name goes in a slightly different direction. Like the fictional ER doc, Luka’s roots are Slavic. This spelling entered the US Top 1000 in 2004, and now stands at #776, still quite a few paces behind Luca.
As for the worry that parents will appropriate Luca for their daughters? Actors Jennie Garth and Peter Faccinelli did just that in 1997, when they named their eldest daughter Luca Bella. Is it a case gender-bending name theft? Not exactly. In Hungarian, as well as some Slavic languages, Luca is used for girls, as the equivalent of Lucy. But remember how Danica is properly pronounced? Luca would be LOO tsah or LOO tzeh in Budapest.
Overall, Luca is overwhelming reserved for the boys. And no wonder he is such a favorite with jet-setters. Luca has recently charted in the Top Ten in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, while Luka is on the hit list in Slovenia, Serbia, and the Republic of Georgia.
If you’re hoping for a stylish classic that travels flawlessly, Luca is certainly one to consider.