Backwards Baby Names: The Master List

Nov 11th 2010

It isn't just Nevaeh anymore.

Wordplay names, especially reversed spellings, are on the rise with namers of all styles. Aidan and Nadia, for instance, is a top-10 pairing for male/female twins. Semaj, created from James, is a top-1000 name for boys...and in the top 2000 for girls, too.

But like month and season names, this style is self-limiting. Not many names sound as good backwards as they do forwards. To spare you sleepless nights mulling over non-starters like Dennis, Lana and Star, I've combed through 4000 names (the top 2000 for boys and girls) to find the plausible backwards name pairs. All names in the left column rank in the top 2000; I eliminated pairs like Alaya and Ayala that are too close to consider using in the same family.

Adair / Riada
Adela / Aleda
Adiel / Leida
Aidan / Nadia
Ajani / Inaja
Alani / Inala
Alec / Cela
Alex / Xela
Alexi / Ixela
Ali / Ila
Allen / Nella
Ameer / Reema
Amin / Nima
Amir / Rima
Amirah / Harima
Anali / Ilana
Ani / Ina
Arden / Nedra
Ares / Sera
Ari / Ira
Aric / Cira
Ariel / Leira
Ariyah / Hayira
Aven / Neva
Avi / Iva
Axel / Lexa
Ayah / Haya
Aydan / Nadya
Flor / Rolf
Halie / Eilah
Hayes / Seyah
Iman / Nami
Issac / Cassi
Ivan / Navi
Kavon / Novak
Lina / Anil
Mac / Cam
Mara / Aram
Miah / Haim
Mika / Akim
Mikah / Hakim
Miles / Selim
Naima / Amian
Nala / Alan
Nate / Etan
Naya / Ayan
Noa / Aon
Noel / Leon
Nola / Alon
Nova / Avon
Nya / Ayn
Om / Mo
Semaj / James
Siri / Iris
Zaid / Diaz

Comments

1
By lia
November 12, 2010 12:16 AM

Wow, some of these really work well! I could definitely see an Indian family naming their children Lina / Anil... both are relatively common names (with Lina spelled Leena, but the i and ee sound are the same letter in Hindi, so it doesn't really matter).
Issac / Cassi sound particularly good together too.

2
By Eo (not verified)
November 12, 2010 8:47 AM

I must admit to not being fond of the trend of this type of name.

BUT, I've always liked the following anagram (is that the correct term-- by these I mean names spelled exactly the same backwards and forwards) names:

Nan
Eve
Lil
Mim
Pip

They all go back hundreds of years. And there are more of them, which don't immediately spring to mind, unfortunately!

3
November 12, 2010 8:52 AM

Eo -- never fear, a Master List of palindrome names is in your future! ;-)

-Laura

4
November 12, 2010 8:56 AM

Wow, an amazing list!

Eo, those are palindromes names. We wrote a little bit about them on Name Candy a while back:

http://www.namecandy.com/celebrity-baby-names/blog/2010/08/26/new-baby-alert-james-otto-and-the-palindromes

5
By Occasional Reader (not verified)
November 12, 2010 9:27 AM

I had a college friend named Anik (prn A-nick). She said she was originally a twin (disappearing twin syndrome) and her twin would have been named Kina (prn Keena).

6
November 12, 2010 9:51 AM

@Eo - I like the palindromes too, but I think more interesting are the true anagrams...

ex:

Dorathea/Theadora
Alice/Celia/Lecia
Lisa/Isla
Adrian/Darian
Alex/Axel/Lexa
Blaise/Isabel
Cornelia/Caroline
Arnold/Roland

I keep finding these good example lists from the same site: http://www.namenerds.com/uucn/anagrams1.html

7
By Allison Margaret (not verified)
November 12, 2010 10:01 AM

Don't forget that Diana is also an anagram of Aidan and Nadia! While neither name is really my style, I actually think Diana and Nadia work nicely for sisters.

8
By Elfie (not verified)
November 12, 2010 10:22 AM

I took a skim through and made some third options:

Adair / Riada - Adria
Adela / Aleda - Dalea
Adiel / Leida - Eliad
Aidan / Nadia - Adina
Alani / Inala - Lania
Alec / Cela - Cale
Allen / Nella - Lelan
Ameer / Reema - Meera
Amin / Nima - Iman
Amir / Rima - Rami
Anali / Ilana - Alani
Ari / Ira - Ria
Ariel / Leira - Eliar
Ariyah / Hayira - Yahira
Aven / Neva - Vané
Halie / Eilah-Helia
Hayes / Seyah - Shaye
Iman / Nami - Niam
Issac / Cassi - Cissa
Ivan / Navi - Vina
Kavon / Novak - Knova (If the floodgate is already open, I want to see the silent 'k' get some play.)
Mika / Akim - Kima
Nate / Etan - Tane
Naya / Ayan - Yana
Noa / Aon - Ona
Noel / Leon - Nelo
Nola / Alon - Nalo
Nova / Avon - Avno
Semaj / James - Jasem

9
By Elfie (not verified)
November 12, 2010 10:25 AM

Oh, and @ Occasional Reader, do you know anything about Kina from your friend? I like the sound of it as a name but haven't been able to place it to an origin.

11
By knp-nli (not verified)
November 12, 2010 10:36 AM

I love:
Mikah / Hakim
Nate / Etan
Noel / Leon
Siri / Iris
Anali / Ilana
!!!!

This type of "word" game is super fun. Thanks Laura!

12
By Eo (not verified)
November 12, 2010 10:37 AM

Ah, palindrome names-- that's the term that escaped me! Thank you Laura W., LaneR and Rachel Dana!

13
By Kirsten (guest) (not verified)
November 12, 2010 10:44 AM

Backwards names are cute, but please remember the child's future difficulty in spelling his or her name, or having others spell and pronounce it correctly.
I love my name because it's a family name, but I have been called "Kristen" more times than you can imagine :)
Guess I should be grateful my parents didn't name me Netsrik insted - maybe if i was a boy, and from Iceland - haha.

14
November 12, 2010 10:54 AM

I always liked Ande/Edna. Also in the anagram arena I knew 2 kids named Dylan/Lynda.

15
November 12, 2010 11:14 AM

Palindrome names bore me. I think anagram names are kind of fun though. I don't really understand the backwards name phenomenom. I think most of those names come out sounding foreign (like from India) when you flip them and that would not be my style. I do think Issac/Cassi is okay but would like the sp Cassie better and then it wouldn't work.

Returning to our two current name dilemmas:
another Laura-What was wrong with Rose again? I think it fits with different vowel sound, short, pretty. I don't think the S sounds are too much but then again I have a lot in my name also.

mum2three-Cormac is my choice.

16
By Valentine Baby (not verified)
November 12, 2010 11:19 AM

The backward baby names just seem juvenile to me...for some reason I just don't see it as clever.

I love the idea of anagram names, especially as a way to honor someone special.

FWIW, I know some of you may think I'm about to pass on an urban legend or such....but I promise this is true. I signed my son into the pediatrician's office on Monday morning earlier this week---right under "Heaven" & "Seven." Their last name was Earth. The kids were adorable. There was a third child with the family and I had my ears on high alert to hear his/her name (infant, couldn't tell gender) but never heard it....

I have to say, I found "Heaven" spelled forward refreshing!

And I can't think of "Seven" without recalling the Seinfeld episode.

What about "Soda"?

17
By becky9 (not verified)
November 12, 2010 11:23 AM

my favorite backwards name is Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar / Roman

Like a lot new names, it took a while for me to get used to it, but now i like it.

19
By Guest3232 (not verified)
November 12, 2010 12:43 PM

Is 'Issac' pronounced like 'Isaac'?

20
November 12, 2010 12:51 PM

I think that real challenge is names that are anagrams but have similar style/ usage. So my favourites are:
Ari/Ira
Alice/Celia
Mac/Cam

21
November 13, 2010 9:56 PM

I would personally not want to do this with siblings because I feel each child deserves their own individual identity. And I think it really only works when the forwards and backwards names sound very distinct from one another. In addition to A(i/y)dan and Nad(i/y)a; I think the ones that meet that criterion might be Sera and Ares; Noel and Leon. But I'd only do it if I happened to love both of those names so much that they were independently the top two names on my list.

But, I do find palindrome names fun when the entire name is a palindrome. There's the actor Robert Trebor (I'm pretty sure it's a stage name). This can works really well with some surnames: Nell Allen, Mike Kim, etc. But obviously only works if you have a surname that yields a name or a part of a name spelled backwards!

I know someone who wanted to name his child "L0g4n Al4n" and that would have given a complete palindrome with the last name, but his wife didn't like the name, so they didn't do it after all. I'm not generally the biggest fan of L0g4n, but in this instance, I thought it was pretty spectacular.

22
November 12, 2010 2:16 PM

One of my favorite books is "Holes" in which the main character is named Stanley Yelnats!

23
By MissKitty (not verified)
November 12, 2010 3:33 PM

My mom, had she been a boy, was going to be named Noel. My grandfather was named Leon, so Leon backwards, and she was due near Christmas. I think some would be a cool way to honor a family member, but I wouldn't recommend it for siblings.

24
November 12, 2010 5:43 PM

re: Kina: I knew a girl named Juakena, who went by Kena. I assume her full name was an alternate spelling of Joaquina? (Well, assuming Joaquina is a name [feminine of Joaquin]. Maybe there was a lot of original thinking that went into that one.)

Anik is interesting too. There is a French name Annick right? So is this an alternate spelling?

Also, some of my (first-year college) students were talking about baby names this morning, which I thought I'd share. One guy suggested I name my baby Robert, I guess as a variation on my name. One girl (one of those who originally asked if I was pregnant, so I think she is into this stuff) said I should combine my name with my husband's. She said she and her ex had talked about combining their names to make Kearilyn. From how she talked, I definitely got the sense that she valued unique names. I think she is right out of high school. She mentioned an -aiden. I think maybe it was Braden? Of course I had to point out to her how common the -aidens are these days. And she was like, "Oh yeah, like Jayden." Anyway, it was fun stuff.

25
November 12, 2010 6:06 PM

zoerhenne- Rose would be perfect especially with the tie in to St. Therese of Lisieux (Little Flower) and it's a family name. But we used it for Katharine's middle name. At the time we were chosing between Rose and Anne in honor of dh's recently deceased grandmother Anna Rose. I thought Katharine Anne Tys0n was a little 'n' heavy and thought it was a little cheesy for her initials to spell KAT. Now I think KAT would've been really cute initials. Thanks for thinking of my dillema still.

Everytime I see my name list I keep trying to read it backwards.

26
By Anna S (not verified)
November 12, 2010 6:44 PM

I'd recognise the ingenuity but I'm not really a fan of any of the name pairs on that list. I simply don't feel it's particularly meaningful when two names are composed of the same letters. I like subtle "connections" but first and foremost I agree with Lucubratrix's view that each child deserves their own individual identity.

Kina (KEE-nah) is the Scandinavian name for the country China. There is the girls' name Kine (KEE-neh) which is reasonably common in Norway but Kina is 100% the country.

27
November 12, 2010 10:12 PM

On the long list of reasons I've never liked my name is that Megan spelled backwards is Nag 'em. Which of course my cousin *had* to tease me about....

My son had a classmate Semaj for a little while, but I have to admit, the backwards "style" really isn't mine.

For palindromes though, my husband and I fell in love with Otto, first as a joke name because combined with his last name, it is one letter off a long palindrome (and of course, Otto is one too!). But the not quite rhyme of the name sounds dreadful. We used that name constantly to anyone who asked what we were naming #1.

28
November 12, 2010 11:23 PM

Not sure about true back-forth names, but I'd probably not be as big a fan of Jonas if it wasn't an anagram of my husband's name Jason.

29
November 12, 2010 11:38 PM

Re: Robert Trebor--I worked with a guy named Trebor, who was named after his dad Robert. I definitely thought his name was Trevor for almost 2 months, before I saw his name written down once. :)

30
November 12, 2010 11:41 PM

Well another Laura, names are fun and its a great challenge to find "the perfect name" so I am glad to help. Any thoughts on these?
Renee which is my favorite mn; Allison; Joy; Faith; Nevaeh (nah-vay)??; Loretta for Loreto Abbey-I looked up Mother Teresa and learned a bit :)

31
By Kirsten (guest) (not verified)
November 12, 2010 11:58 PM

mum2three - I think Cormac is a fantastic name, but if you don't like the thought of your children having popular names, I have a feeling there might be a lot of Cormacs in the next few years with the relatively recent popularity of the author Cormac McCarthy.
Personally I don't mind that -- my son and daughter both have very common, popular names among their peer group -- but I know some people are very keen on unique names. :-)

32
November 13, 2010 1:28 AM

The only pairing on this list I'm any fan of is Issac and Cassi, but that's only because I like the name Issac.

I'm actually a huge fan of all palindromes and I'm excited for the complete list. Please don't forget to look at other cultures! One of my favorite names from another culture is a palindrome and a name of a good friend. Nayan.

Also, having read the blog in its entirety this week (I'm new to the blog portion of this site) and exploring the tools (especially Namepedia)in depth, why are there not more names from the Asian cultures? Particularly China and India. I think both countries have such a rich naming tradition with many interesting and unique names that would appeal to an American sensibility.

It's just an idea. ^_^

33
By Elfie (not verified)
November 13, 2010 1:48 AM

tinaconn - I love Monserrate! I've read Montserrat, and now I'm getting curious about what the "original" version might be. I saw a nn for it listed as Montse.

another Laura - Would it be too out there to choose an Indian name that you like the sound of in order to have a link with Mother Teresa?

Mum2three - It may have been me who mentioned Colm. An Irish Colm I know pronounces it Coll-m, sort of like to "call him." How are you saying it?

I met an ADORABLE little boy named Finn today, I gave him a cookie :) Also met little brothers Max and Louis, whose mother told me they were part French.

34
November 13, 2010 2:20 AM

Amanda Elaine: I, too, have been wondering about the lack of Asian names. I've been adding the ones that I know of. Hmm...

I apoligize if what I'm about to post has been posted before. I've been fascinated with names in big families, and I found a few sibsets to share. This one is from a family that's the same religion as The Duggers I think. But not exactly the same. A good chunk of their 14 children are adopted, and they are (in my opinion) better namers:

Adalia
Keziah
Boaz
Ezra
Tilly
Judah
Jubilee
Enoch
Avi
Kalina
Tucker
Hezekiah
Mordecai
Apollo

It's a great sibset, and I'm fascinated with the stylistic outliers. Where do Tilly, Jubilee, Tucker, and Apollo fit into the whole Biblical name thing? The mother's blog is here: http://bakersdozen.typepad.com/

The next one's kind of old news, but I just heard of it. Here's a big family sibset from England, with the middle names if I could find them:

Patrick
Stephen Howard
Malachai Isaac
Peppermint Aries
Echo Xavier
Eli
Rogue Aqua
Frodo Jesus
Morpheus Oracle
Artemis Lemony
Blackbird Winterberry
Baudelaire
Voorhees Halloween

Call me crazy, but I think the weirder ones are cool. I mean, obviously this sibset doesn't go together, and I wouldn't make a pairing of Frodo and Jesus for example, but they're unique names without yoonek spellings that are nature, mythological, literary, and "witchy". My type of style! Not sure what Voorhees is from though. And I've been meaning to add Baudelaire to the catalog. Do you think it's a boy or a girl?

35
By Jan (not verified)
November 13, 2010 3:35 AM

My daughters' names are (incidentally) almost anagrams of each other - Simone and Noemi. I like that they have a common sound (the long o) and are foreign (French and Italian) twists on Biblical names (Simon and Naomi). Thanks to those who gave me suggestions when I asked earlier this year!

36
By Guest88 (not verified)
November 13, 2010 7:56 AM

@Tinaconn: just had to share those bizaar names with dh, and he says that Voorhees is the family name in the movie "Halloween"..... Thanks for sharing! Don't you sometimes wish you could see inside peoples' heads? :)

37
November 13, 2010 11:07 AM

tinaconn-Those names are outrageous. They sound like characters in a book rather than actual people names.

38
November 13, 2010 1:04 PM

Tinaconn: I agree with Zoerhenne, they sound like characters (especially Blackbird Winterberry). I think that in small doses some of them could be more my style (Martha Blackbird, Flora Artemis).

Voorhees is from a horror film; there's a serial killer named Jason Voorhees.

39
November 13, 2010 3:32 PM

Awkward Turtle: Yeah, that's kind of what I was trying to articulate when I said that I wouldn't pair Frodo and Jesus together. Although for me it would be more Violante Blackbird and Paloma Artemis, but you get the idea. And her Artemis is a boy, inspired by Artemis Fowl. I guess not many people know of the masculine varient Artemas.

So Voorhees is a horror character, huh? I love the name Sweeney (as in Todd, who is...kind of...empathetic in...the...play?) so I'm not one to talk. Although I would pair it up more like...I don't know...Peregrine Sweeney or something like that.

What I find more striking about this sibset is the stunning shift in style as the years go by (there's a ten year age difference between babies one and two) and the fact that the first three children are named after family. Was the mother just tollerating the family tradition knowing that she was going to have a lot more children? "Just one more to go and then nothing can stop me! NOTHING! HAHAHA!"

40
November 13, 2010 3:34 PM

tinaconn: cool list! i think peppermint is adorable, although, i guess it is a bit out there. echo is also cool. i have to say i'm a fan of rogue and morpheus (at least the original characters) too. frodo is a bit out there for my tastes.

41
November 13, 2010 3:47 PM

Tinaconn: I love the idea of the mother slowly planning her escape to total naming freedom.

"Stephen today, Rogue tomorrow! Wooo!"

42
November 13, 2010 5:33 PM

Oh well just call me boring! Stephen today and Connor tomorrow is more my style.

43
By Jendot (not verified)
November 13, 2010 9:42 PM

I'd guess that as addition to Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl), they also like Lemony Snicket -- the Series of Unfortunate Events features the Baudelaire children.

44
November 14, 2010 1:10 PM

I always think large families pose the most interesting naming challenges!

I grew up with a family of 13 kids in the neighborhood, but all the ones I knew (the school age ones, not the ones that had moved out already that I didn't know) all had very standard 80s names.

I think Morpheus and Artemis are great names - though I would personally pair them with a more conventional name myself to provide a bit of balance. And also, I would firmly consider Artemis as a girl name, and would instead go with a male form of it for a boy (or Apollo).

Peppermint, Rogue, Frodo, Blackbird, Winterberry, Lemony... all I could see being perfectly useable, though probably not my personal style, but I think some those particular combinations trigger my sense of "too much". I think it's because some cases seem to be too "adjective + noun" phrase oriented, painting a picture of a scene, or being a descriptive phrase where both first and middle names are referencing the same thing to make the reference really super obvious.

Like, Hermione still is at the top of our girl list. But, I would never do Hermione Minerva as a combo, even though I also really like the name Minerva, because the combination would be screaming Harry Potter (or just Greek Mythology) far too loudly.

45
By Beth the original (not verified)
November 14, 2010 10:45 AM

Semaj is just plain awful. Well, OK, I admit it, I am just not a fan of backwards names. But Om and Mo just cracks me up. There goes Om, lithe in his yoga suit, sipping wheatgrass. Behind him shuffles Mo, plumber's crack showing out of his jeans, gnawing on FunYuns.

46
By Beth the original (not verified)
November 14, 2010 11:06 AM

Also: name sighting. Adorable baby named Generosity. A hipster version of Jennifer? I will never know. I give it the big hmmmmmmm.

47
November 14, 2010 11:38 AM

Beth the Original: I have a soft spot for slightly weird virtue names, so Generosity seems quite sweet. As long as her sisters aren't Charity and Prudence...

Also, if we're still talking about massive English families, I saw a documentary about a guy with 20 (!!!) kids, by about 4 different women. His name was Michael and he had four sons named directly after him, plus a daughter Michaela and 2 Lukes. He mentioned that kids with the exact same names caused official problems. I also remember Jordan-Lee (b), Rhiannon, John and Bret.

48
By Amy3
November 14, 2010 11:40 AM

@Beth the original, lol about Om and Mo! Love it! I'll be reminded of this in every yoga class from now on!

49
By HMF not signed in (not verified)
November 14, 2010 12:35 PM

@tinaconn: I just spent far too much time reading the archives of the Baker's Dozen blog, and in May she devoted posts to her naming choices (http://bakersdozen.typepad.com/a_bakerss_dozen_daily_lif/2010/05/index.html). Here are the full versions of her eleven youngest:

Adalia Iris Netanya
Judah Shere-Khan
Tilly Virtue ("Chuck and I both love the name Tilly [which means ready for battle] and ironically, she was born with on hand thrust above her head in the "victory" position.")
Almanzo Enoch
Kalani Nalani ("Her name Kalina is Hawaiian for 'pure' and Nalani means 'calm as the heavens'. Kalina's middle name was chosen primarily because Enoch was not a calm baby, and we were desperate after a year of parenting him.")
Hezekiah Zednai
Mordecai Courage
Jubilee Harvest
Avi Providence
Tucker Benaiah ("Tucker was one of those names that Chuck and I just loved")
Apollo XIV (http://bakersdozen.typepad.com/a_bakerss_dozen_daily_lif/2010/06/apollo-xiv-and-how-he-got-his-name.html)

OK, I think I have some work I ought to be doing...

50
November 14, 2010 2:18 PM

interesting names from my local listings:
twins with middle names Isis and Osiris
Marsten
Dailee
Skylah
Athena
Ameara
2 Tituses
Ellis
2 Peytons
2 Isabella/Ysabellas
Charlie
Maggie
Treston
Albert (a IV)
Emeliyah