What turned Luka (briefly) into a girl name?

Suzanne Vega, album Solitude Standing

In 1987, Luka — traditionally a male name — was suddenly given to more baby girls than baby boys.


That was the year Suzanne Vega’s song “Luka” [vid] was all over the radio. In August, it reached #3 on both Billboard‘s Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts.

The song is sung from the perspective of a young abuse victim — a boy named Luka. When Vega’s then-manager asked her where she got the name, she answered:

A 9-year-old boy who lives in my building. Who is not abused, by the way. I like the name Luka, it’s universal. It could be a girl or boy and it could be any nationality.

Expectant parents apparently agreed that it worked for girls as well as boys, because 11 baby girls were named Luka that year:

  • 1990: 10 baby boys named Luka
  • 1989: 9 baby boys named Luka
  • 1988: 8 baby boys and 8 baby girls named Luka
  • 1987: 8 baby boys and 11 baby girls named Luka [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: 7 baby boys named Luka
  • 1983: 6 baby boys named Luka

Luka is a lot more popular today than it was in the ’80s — particularly for boys. In 2010, 314 baby boys and 18 baby girls were named Luka.


P.S. A similar thing happened to the name Nico two decades earlier…

4 thoughts on “What turned Luka (briefly) into a girl name?

  1. According to wikipedia Luca is also a Hungarian female given name, the equivalent of the English Lucy. Luca is also the Greek word for legendary. I would name my girl or boy Luca/Luka. I like it better with a c.

  2. It could be because of Japanese people. As weird as that may sound, there’s some kind of pop star or singer person whose name is Luka

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.