Aa is for Aaron, oo is for Cooper, ee is for Lee. Traditionally, that’s as far as doubled vowels go. The letters u and i just don’t double up in American English, in words or in names.
At least, they didn’t. In this, generation, ii names have taken hold. The number of American babies receiving a name with a double-i is up over 1300% since the start of the millennium.
Even that dramatic popularity curve doesn’t tell the whole story. As of the year 2000, the few ii names were linguistic imports, chiefly Hawaiian names like Kelii and alternate Arabic transcriptions like Maliik. Then parents’ quest for novelty met innovative brand names like the 2006 Nintendo Wii game console. Suddenly, ii was perceived as a bold spelling alternative for English names. Today, the top ii name in America is Journii, and other hot choices include Levii, Harmonii and Kiing.
Uu, though, has remained out of the running. But last year, the first-ever English-based uu name appeared in the statistics. Eleven boys were name Truu.
Other spellings of “True” also rose as baby names last year. You can also find various examples of the term “truu,” from a European brand of bottled water to a meme-ready spelling of true:
But I think there’s another force behind the name’s emergence. Think back to the naming impact of the smash-hit Nintendo Wii. It wasn’t about direct namesakes (there are still no babies named Wii), but rather about spelling inspiration.
Can it be a coincidence that the first uu name emerged in the wake of JUUL, the ubiquitous e-cigarette brand? JUUL sales reached the $1 billion mark in 2018, up 400% from the previous year. Every young American knows the spelling and the pronunciation (“jool”). And now along comes Truu. It’s the first uu name, but if the ii experience is any guide, it won’t be the last.