The Nevaeh Explosion

Sonny Sandoval and daughter Nevaeh, 2000, MTV Cribs
The Nevaeh that kicked things off.
We only have a few more weeks to play with the current baby name data, so how about we use it to check out the name Nevaeh and its many variants?

Nevaeh was almost unheard of before the year 2000. The earliest Nevaeh I’ve found was born in 1904, and only a handful were born between then and the mid-1990s.

The name managed to see enough usage in 1997 to debut on the SSA’s national baby name list (which has a 5-baby cut-off). It wasn’t set to become the Next Big Thing, though, until MTV shined a spotlight on it.

In late 2000, rock band P.O.D. was featured on one of the first episodes of MTV Cribs. Vocalist Paul Joshua “Sonny” Sandoval decided to bring along his baby daughter Nevaeh [vid], saying:

This is Nevaeh right here, that’s heaven spelled backwards. She’s my first, she’s 6 months old.

Usage of the baby name exploded after that. And Nevaeh’s sudden trendiness gave rise to all sorts of variants.

The following graph shows how many baby girls in the U.S. have been given the name Navaeh or a variant since the late 1990s:

Variants of the baby name Nevaeh

(Name-specific popularity graphs: Nevaeh, Neveah, Navaeh, Nevaeha, Naveah, Neviah, Niveah, Navaya, Nevayah, Nevah, Nevaya, Naviah, Naveyah, Neaveh, Navayah, Naveya, Navea, Navah, Nevae, Nevea, Naviyah, Neveyah, Navae, Neviyah, Naevia, Naviya, Neveaha, Nivaeh, Nivaya, Niviah, Nyveah, Nevaiah, Neveya, Niveyah, Niveya, Navaiah, Neavah, Nyvaeh, Nevaha, Navaeha, Nevaehia.)

And that’s not all. Hundreds of other babies were given names with that unorthodox “-aeh” ending:

Baby names ending with -vaeh like Nevaeh

(Name-specific popularity graphs: Lavaeh, Javaeh, Devaeh, Jevaeh, Levaeh, Sevaeh, Anevaeh, Avaeh, Davaeh, Savaeh, Kevaeh, Tyvaeh, Evaeh and Zevaeh. Navaeh, Nivaeh and Nyvaeh were listed above.)

Year Nevaeh
rank
Nevaeh
number
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
39th
35th
25th
34th
34th
31st
43rd
5,317
6,056
6,391
6,082
6,082
6,790
5,927

If you remember my Jayden post, though, you know that upward trends can’t last forever.

In terms of raw usage, Nevaeh’s best year on record was 2007. In terms of ranking, it reached 25th in 2010 — a decade after that fateful MTV Cribs episode aired — but has since slipped.

So the Nevaeh trend seems to be losing steam.

And this makes me wonder…now that it’s no longer rising at a threatening pace, now that we’ve had a few years to get used to it, is the baby name Nevaeh less reviled today than it once was? (By people who were not part of the trend, I mean.)

If you were a Nevaeh-hater in the beginning, are you still as adamantly against the name today? Or do you find it more tolerable now?


10 thoughts on “The Nevaeh Explosion

  1. I still greatly dislike Nevaeh. I would also find it interesting to see a breakdown of how this name is used among various income classes and ethnic groups, because I’ve never even heard of one in my relatively affluent, predominantly white area.

  2. From the SSA, there is namesbystate.zip with a breakdown on state level. Because the states of the US differ in their ethnic composition, something could be concluded from this data.

    I have also seen first name statistics from New York with ethnic breakdown, but I don’t know how much you can get from there when you ask for more than the TOP-10 names.

  3. I dont care for Nevaeh, though I find Heaven actually worse just because of all the jokes that could arise there.

    Still I appreciate Nevaeh from a stats lover, its really a fascinating explosion. This is also a great example of how quickly new girl names catch on, male equivalents are non-existant. Girls do have more fun.

  4. @Skizzo – Great point. Though I wonder if this will always be the case. Jayden is an exception, for instance. As it becomes more acceptable to innovate with boy names, I think the “explosion” thing will happen more often on that side.

  5. @Nancy Man: It’ll probably happen more often, but still nowhere near at the rate they happen with girls. Taking a look at the top 100, the boy names are just a lot more used than their female counterparts in the same rank. So that makes it a lot harder for names to go up a lot, and also for them to leave quicker. And secondly, an aspect that it’s unlikely to change much, the fact that a lot of boys are named after their father. I do enjoy reading birth announcements, and the number of newborns named David, Christopher, Charles, Robert, Joseph, John, Michael and Matthew that share their first name with dad is quite remarkable – i’d say around 80% average. Christopher probably 90%. It’s why they are pretty much always in the top 100. Even William and James are used in the same way quite a bit, around 50%, but out of the “classics” they have the most appeal.

  6. Alltho I agree that girl names are more explosive than boy names: What about Messiah?

  7. Right — we could also look at Major, King, Brantley, Bentley, and Iker. All have become much more popular recently.

    (Who knows if any of them will maintain this new level of popularity, though. That’s another factor to consider. They’ve spiked, but will they stick around like Nevaeh and Jayden have?)

  8. I just met a young lady named this name for the first time in my life and never heard that name. I love the name, it is a beautiful name! =)

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