Hi Duana,

My husband and I are expecting our first child at the end of July. We are having a boy and we had the name picked out, Luke Johnson, but it looks like we won't be able to use Luke anymore.

My husband shared the name with his family and they hated it! Luke sounds exactly like the word for "onion" in their language. Now, my husband can't get it out of his head (and it bothers me too), so we decided we cannot name our son Luke. We are keeping Johnson as the middle name because it is my maiden name.
Can you suggest any names that sound similar to Luke? Unfortunately, we don't like any of its variants: 
Lucas, Lucian etc. 

Other names we liked, but are not sold on:
Leo (too common)

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


I hope you’ll forgive the title but I just couldn’t help thinking it was kind of funny that some foods are sanctioned for names and others don’t pass muster – not that I think it would be nice to call a kid Onion, or anything, but you get the idea. 

Good news, though – your style is here in all the names you listed. You like names with Ls and hard C or K sounds, and short isn’t a problem, so we have a solid place to start.  

Looking at your list, obviously this varies geographically, but I should warn that if Leo is too common, you may find there are hella Charlies around, too… for the exact reason that it appeals to a lot of people and feels kind of timeless, so that’s worth just keeping in mind. Christopher should feel rare, but given that you’re the second letter writer this month who’s considering it, it might be making a stealth comeback sooner than we think. 

I like Kai a lot, and it’s one of those names that’s distinctive but doesn’t yet have a particular image associated with it, so that’s a strong choice. Bellamy is also great but will almost certainly be shortened to Bell at some point – I’m not mad at that, but if you are, you should take note that it’s probably something you’d have to guard against. 

I’m also reminded of Cato (or the Japanese Kaito, which lends itself to Kai) or maybe something like Kieran, or Levi --- ooh, or Liev! Caleb has a lot of the sounds you like too, which might be a real plus, and might be rare in your area. Or if you’re wanting to head more towards the traditional, Jacob – and consequently Jake – has similar feelings and rhythms to Luke, while being a totally different name. 

You might also like Nico, though, if you do, I’d urge you not to go with the more formal Nicholas, as he’ll inevitably wind up Nick or Nicky, at least to some; and I’m also struck by Jude (and Judah), which has that ‘oo’ vowel sound that attracted you to Luke. So do Hugo and Hugh, if you’re edging back onto the slightly more well-known side. Ambrose? What about Pascal? It’s not that common but every time I meet one, I’m thrilled. Laszlo? Tadeo?

How about Casper? None of the sounds of Luke, but somehow all of the feelings. Caius? Or Cyrus, or Julius? If you really miss the one syllable thing, you could go with Dean, or Zane, or Cale, or Wolf. Yes, really, who do you have to answer to but you? Ohhhhh, what about Cruz? 

Obviously it goes without saying that, now that Pandora’s box has been opened,  all of these will need to be put through the “is this weird in my in-laws’ native language” filter… but hopefully that’s a one-off scenario and there’s something here that all of you can love. 

Let us know!