Heaven is in a name for US parents

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The Independent US

America's latest onomatological sensation is called Nevaeh. Or rather, girls called Nevaeh. Virtually unheard of five years ago, the name - "heaven" spelt backwards - became the 70th most popular name for baby girls in the country last year.

Ever stranger names are a feature of modern life for parents, who see them as a badge of independence, originality and free-thinking. Could that have been why Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes named their daughter Suri, which apparently means "beautiful red rose" in some Eastern languages?

Nevaeh's entry into the firmament of American first names may be dated to an appearance on the MTV music channel in 2000 by the Christian rock star Sonny Sandoval, along with his daughter, Nevaeh.

The following year, Nevaeh burst into the national girl's name charts at No 266. By 2004, it had climbed to 103rd place, and last year it jumped another 30 places. In some places it is doing even better. In Colorado, for instance, Nevaeh was the 25th most popular girl's name in 2005.

Even so, Nevaeh will have a tough job to reach the very summit. Last year, the top three girl's names - Emma, Emily and Madison - were unchanged. The only new entry in the Top 10 was Ava, at No 9.