The black-bear overpass

“Nevaeh”: The most popular new name for Christian girls

Apparently the hottest new Christian name is “Nevaeh” — “heaven” spelled backwards. It traces it genealogy to a single cultural big bang: In 2000, Sonny Sandoval, the singer for the Christian-rock unit P.O.D., appeared on MTV and introduced his baby daughter Nevaeh. He explained the provenance — “Heaven spelled backwards” — and apparently the country was totally smitten.

According to the New York Times:

The spectacular rise of Nevaeh (commonly pronounced nah-VAY-uh) has little precedent, name experts say. They watched it break into the top 1,000 of girls’ names in 2001 at No. 266, the third-highest debut ever. Four years later it cracked the top 100 with 4,457 newborn Nevaehs, having made the fastest climb among all names in more than a century, the entire period for which the Social Security Administration has such records. [snip]

The name has hit a cultural nerve with its religious overtones, creative twist and fashionable final “ah” sound. It has risen most quickly among blacks but is also popular with evangelical Christians, who have helped propel other religious names like Grace (ranked 14th) up the charts, experts say. By contrast, the name Heaven is ranked 245th.

Man, never underestimate the tendency of the American public to slavishly adopt the most aggressively daft bit of fashion or behavior evinced by their Olympian gods, the celebrities. It’s like when I checked out the NameVoyager baby-name application last year, and discovered that the 1980s TV show Remington Steele apparently caused an epidemiological surge in the number of sons afflicted with the name “Remington”. Of course, “Nevaeh” is an order of magnitude sillier even than Remington, simply because it takes an linguistic epiphany that would embarass a stoner (“Hey dude — did you realize that butter spelled backwards is … rettub?” “Duuuude.”) and forces some poor kid to live with it until they die.

It’s also passingly ironic to see evangelical Christians getting super excited about spelling things backwards. Last time I checked, wasn’t that supposed to have kinda, y’know, necromonical connotations?

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson