Why is the Musical Group U2 Named U2?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
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  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
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The name U2 seems somewhat of a poor fit with a band known for its pacifistic qualities. A U2 is an American spy plane, used during the 1950s, and early 60s. One possible suggestion for the band’s name was that a U2 plane crashed four days prior to Bono's, the band’s lead singer, birth.

The name U2 is also a play on words, suggesting “you too,” or “you two,” which may be part of its origin. At the time U2 formed other bands were also experimenting with such names. INXS could be loosely thought of as "in excess," and XTC easily translates to "ecstasy." Other bands followed in U2’s wake in such naming like UB40, which is an unemployment form in England.

There is also another possible origin for the band’s name, which is the most likely explanation. A U2 is a form used in Ireland to claim unemployment. Since particularly the early albums of the band focused on poverty and especially the unrest in Ireland, this reference to the form may have held the most significance. As well, since poverty was endemic in parts of Ireland at the time the band was formed, a play on words in terms of people filing the form is likely. “I’m filling out a U2. Oh, you too?”


Prior to taking the name U2 the band operated under two other names, Feedback and The Hype. It was the name U2 that stuck however, and it was under the name U2 that the band recorded their first album Boy in 1980.

Some claim the band made up a list of ten names and voted with U2 coming out the favorite. Lead singer, Bono, is quoted as saying he never cared for the name, and never associated with the verbal play on words. He has made no comment regarding the U2 unemployment form.


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Post 3

I think a lot of these bands just like to pretend they don't know about their names. It's all part of the fun, letting fans and critics come up with their own ideas instead of just saying "we had a gym teacher named Leonard Skinner" or whatever. I remember what happened when people started trying to figure out the name Pearl Jam.

Post 2

In secondary school they were in the class 2U.

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