What popularized the baby name Nevaeh in the early 2000s?

Sonny Sandoval and baby daughter Nevaeh on an episode of the TV series "MTV Cribs" in 2000.
Sonny Sandoval and baby Nevaeh

The name Nevaeh was virtually unheard of before the year 2000. The earliest Nevaeh I’ve spotted in the records was born in 1904, and only a handful were born between that point and the mid-1990s.

The name managed to see enough usage in 1997 to debut in the U.S. baby name data with 5 baby girls (which is the minimum number required for inclusion in the publicly available version of the dataset, for safety reasons).

Nevaeh didn’t become the Next Big Thing, however, until it was spotlighted by MTV.

The documentary series MTV Cribs, which featured tours of the private homes of various celebrities, premiered in September of 2000.

In October of 2000 — just a few episodes in — the California-based Christian metal band P.O.D. appeared on the show. When P.O.D.’s vocalist Paul Joshua “Sonny” Sandoval — who, along with this wife, had welcomed a baby girl named Nevaeh Aurelia Sandoval in March of that year — introduced his daughter to the world via MTV Cribs, he succinctly explained the origin of her first name:

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

(Her middle name was likely chosen in honor of Sonny’s late mother, Aurelia.)

The following year, usage of the baby name Nevaeh exploded:

  • 2005: 4,558 baby girls named Nevaeh [rank: 69th]
  • 2004: 3,181 baby girls named Nevaeh [rank: 104th]
  • 2003: 2,300 baby girls named Nevaeh [rank: 145th]
  • 2002: 1,699 baby girls named Nevaeh [rank: 189th]
  • 2001: 1,199 baby girls named Nevaeh [rank: 266th]
  • 2000: 99 baby girls named Nevaeh
  • 1999: 8 baby girls named Nevaeh

The name didn’t merely break into the top 1,000 — it shot straight into the top 300. And it kept climbing, cracking the top 100 just four years later.

Nevaeh’s sudden trendiness gave rise to all sorts of spelling 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

(Spelling-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, and 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.)

Upward trends can’t last forever, though.

In terms of raw usage, Nevaeh’s best year on record was 2007. In terms of rank, it peaked at 25th in 2010 — a decade after that fateful MTV Cribs episode aired. Since then, though, the name has been losing steam.

YearGirls named NevaehRanking of Nevaeh

And this makes me wonder…now that it’s no longer on the rise, now that we’ve had a few years to get used to it, is Nevaeh less reviled today than it once was?

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?


P.S. Sandoval and his wife went on to have two more children: a daughter named Marley, and a son named Justice.

8 thoughts on “What popularized the baby name Nevaeh in the early 2000s?

  1. 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.

  2. @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.

  3. @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.

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

  5. 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?)

  6. 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! =)

  7. Never heard of MTV and P.O.D. being behind the reason for the name Nevaeh; However I love this beautiful and AMAZING 11 year old who happens to be named Niveya and also happens to be my Granddaughter. She was sent from Heaven! For all those wondering about influence, social status, and income of Parents: Upper middle class, White Collar, Married, Private Schools, and Caucasian.
    Ruin your theory?

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