A Backwards Look at Names

In the history of baby naming, rarely has a new name taken off with the supersonic speed of Nevaeh.  Its surge was spurred by one singular event, the announcement by Christian rock star Sonny Sandoval of his baby’s name on MTV in 2000, when he explained that it was “Heaven spelled backwards.”  Sandoval didn’t invent the name–in the previous year there had been eight other baby girls called Nevaeh, but there can be no doubt that his public announcement was what triggered the explosion.By 2001, it had leaped up to #226 on the popularity list, and four years later it entered the Top 100.  On last year’s list, it reached #31, obviously striking a chord with the many parents who didn’t actually want to go all the way to Heaven.

Palindrome Names

There have always been a number of names that are palindromes — spelled the same backwards and forwards, such as Ada, Ava, Hannah, Otto, Eve, Anna, Aviva, et al–but that differs from the Nevaeh model.  This got us to thinking about which other names might  do a similar about face as a way of creating something new and truly original.  Already there is some use of the name Semaj (James spelled backwards) among Rastafarians, inspired by Leachim Semaj, a Jamaican activist, psychologist and radio host whose birth name was Michael James.

Exotic Reversals

Here are a few other exotic reversals, giving a nouveau twist to an old name.  You could probably come up with some more yourself–perhaps as a way of creating a namesake for someone you wish to honor:

ADAJ from JADA
ADIA from AIDA
AMABALA from ALABAMA
ARON from NORA
LEXA from AXEL
LEZAH from HAZEL
NAJ from JAN
NEELIA from AILEEN
NEVAH from HAVEN
REVILO from OLIVER
SIANA from ANAIS
SIRI from IRIS
SITO from OTIS
ZENI from INEZ
You might  also use this backwards principle for naming twins: AIDAN & NADIA, ALAN & NALA. IRA & ARI, MARA & ARAM.

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10 Responses to “A Backwards Look at Names”

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realpraise Says:

December 18th, 2008 at 2:54 pm

That was really neat for me since I like palindromes. Or, .semordilap ekil I ecnis em rof taen yllear saw tahT !

Susan Says:

December 18th, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Oh, please don’t suggest people use backward names for twins. I’m cringing just at the thought. One twin gets a nice, normal name and the other twin, the afterthought, gets a made-up backwards bunch of letters.

rachelmarie Says:

December 18th, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Ugh I hate the name Nevaeh, it’s made up, it’s not real! I really do not like it at all.

Also, I agree with Susan, don’t suggest for people to name their twins backward names. Aidan and Nadia is pure coincidence, but other names sound so made up. I wish people would just start using real, actual names

Jill Says:

December 18th, 2008 at 6:21 pm

I am always reading things backwards – you would be surprised how funny some words and names are. Lidge (llij) is one of my family nicknames! my husband’s name is aaron, and I really like Nora for a girl (or middle name) because it is like Aaron backwards! (he already vetoed Erin)

Sxia Says:

December 29th, 2008 at 5:06 pm

How about Jonas, Jason and Sonja? All have the same letters and are actual names.

Corinne Says:

January 10th, 2009 at 12:37 am

I know a twinset Aidan and Nadia! It was pure coincidence, as each parent named a child, she was Caoimhe from Ireland and he was Anton from Russia. Only when their kids entered preschool and did a “name poem”, where you come up with one word describing yourself for each letter of your name, did they even realize it!

kayla Says:

July 4th, 2009 at 10:10 am

i never used to like the name nevaeh but its actually half decent ,

rachelmarie Says:

December 18th, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Ugh I hate the name Nevaeh, it’s made up, it’s not real! I really do not like it at all.

Where do you think your name came from , its made up ? All names had to be made up at some point in time so give the people credit who continue to do so.

mark capper Says:

August 2nd, 2009 at 3:38 pm

my dad named me mark capper because it spelled kram reppac backwards i never saw the humor

Tori Says:

August 4th, 2009 at 1:47 am

I like the name Nevaeh because Heaven is too obvious! It is pretty and it used to be unique so I hate it when someone bashes that NAME. Every name is made up in its own sort of way so I don’t know why people are hyped up about it being made up…

Baby Names Backwards and Inside Out – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

July 2nd, 2015 at 10:44 pm

[…] As you know, Nevaeh is “heaven” backwards, and as Linda Rosenkrantz noted in a 2008 post, […]

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