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Idol Chatter

Thank heaven for little girls, goes the old song. Thank Sonny Sandoval, of the Christian heavy-metal group P.O.D., for the most popular new name for little girls: Nevaeh–or “heaven” written backwards. Since Sandoval revealed his then-new daughter’s name during an MTV appearance in 2000, the incidence of Neveah has rocketed from just eight girls to 70th, by far the fastest rise in that period. Before Sandoval, the only inspiration for the name, according to research by Cleveland Evans, author of “The Great Big Book of Baby Names,” were the novels of V.C. Andrews, whose teenage heroine was nicknamed Heaven.

Though the New York Times says evangelical Christians are prone to naming their children Nevaeh, Evans says the popularity of the name has less to do with religious fervor than the association—as in the old song—with little girls and heaven, or angels.

The name almost necessarily presumes an admirable lack of superstition as well, given the traditional connection of backward-spelled words, especially holy ones, with mayhem, or Satan himself. From ancient Egypt to Stanley Kubrick’s “redrum,” reversing the letters of a word has been a means of summoning evil–“live” spelled backwards.

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