Where did the baby name Neleh come from in 2002?

Survivor contestant Neleh Dennis
Neleh Dennis

The name Neleh first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 2002:

  • 2004: 7 baby girls named Neleh
  • 2003: 6 baby girls named Neleh
  • 2002: 26 baby girls named Neleh [debut]
  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Neleh [pronounced nuh-LEE-uh] Dennis, a 21-year-old from Utah who was featured on the competitive reality TV show Survivor: Marquesas during the first half of 2002.

She had a “charming, sunny disposition” and was known for her frequent use of the Utah Mormon expression “Oh my heck.” Neleh made it all the way to the final episode, but ended up losing the title of Sole Survivor to fellow contestant Vecepia “Vee” Towery.

Neleh’s first name was Helen — the name of her maternal grandmother — spelled backwards. (The similar name Nevaeh, a backwards spelling of Heaven, was extremely trendy in the early 2000s.)

Following her success on Survivor, Neleh Dennis worked as a morning news reporter at Utah television station KUTV. After that, she became a stay-at-home mom. (She has two sons named Kai and River and a daughter named McKay.)

What are your thoughts on the name Neleh? How would you pronounce it?


Image: Screenshot of Survivor: Marquesas

4 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Neleh come from in 2002?

  1. I would pronounce it like Nella, because of phonics. That’s the nicest thing I can say about this name. “Oh my heck” is pretty funny, though.

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