Palindrome Baby Names: The Master List

Jan 6th 2011

In November, we brought you the master list of backwards baby names. Today we follow up with a comprehensive listing of every palindrome name you're likely to find in America. (These are names that read the same backwards and forwards.)

But first, a reality check: only seven palindromes rank in the top 1000 for boys or girls. A handful of others like Aviva and Renner have some broader fashion potential, but the vast majority are niche names and destined to stay that way.

Currently popularity ranks are included for perspective; girls' names come first in descending popularity order, followed by boys' names.

Rank

Name

5

23

Ava

Hannah

29

Anna

182

Ana

442

Elle

575

Ada

582

Eve

1125

Emme

1171

Aya

1690

Aja

2549

Aviva

3688

Asa

4014

Aziza

4833

Ara

4890

Hanah

5156

Layal

5724

Maram

6053

Awa

7784

Anina

8953

Alla

9036

Aza

9065

Ala

9334

Itati

10073

Maham

10674

Ama

12162

Ece

12775

Arora

14413

Havah

16054

Alyla

16198

Afifa

16451

Habibah

16501

Luul

16757

Axa

16885

Arra

17060

Neven

18263

Alila

18978

Izzi

19003

Avva

20001

Yanay

20769

Halah

21394

Amma

21518

Aisia

23146

Ivi

23510

Aidia

23528

Azza

23641

Nan

23865

Ailia

24324

Ireri

24497

Eme

24931

Adda

25277

Ahsha

25490

Noon

25867

Anana

26421

Assa

27776

Alala

28574

Hallah

28601

Lul

29573

Aleela

31263

Aba

31395

Alela

32745

Hawah

32750

Hayah

34289

Nayan

35412

Umu

 

554

Asa

1091

Otto

2527

Natan

3975

Nayan

4166

Nitin

4194

Naman

4468

Bob

4478

Neven

4493

Ava

4666

Efe

5654

Renner

6411

Nosson

6728

Hannah

6855

JJ

7673

Anna

7798

Ara

8106

Sahas

9216

Ramar

9225

Ege

10018

Ata

10067

Sabas

10094

Ana

10718

Aza

11837

Savvas

12943

Siris

14237

Nalan

15955

Kilik

16862

Aja

17152

BB

17689

Savas

18075

Ala

18701

Ada

19605

Nolon

19921

Reinier

20349

Abba

21031

Laval

21517

Aba

21642

Alula

23640

Navan

24144

Sylys

 

It's a Wonderful Name

Dec 23rd 2010

As you settle in with a favorite Christmas movie, join me in a little reverie.

You were one of four Jennifers in your seventh-grade English class. You were Jen C. in college. Even out in the working world, you felt that your name was just a placeholder. It didn't set you apart; it wasn't memorable; it didn't reflect what made you uniquely you. If only your parents had been more creative. If only they'd imagined the possibilities of a non-Jennifer future, with name that would make people sit up and take notice...hey, who's that beatific fellow?

Yes, it's your own personal name angel. Call him Klarynce. Klarynce listens to your name woes. He understands. And he offers you the tantalizing chance to live out your "if onlys." Say the word, and he'll rewrite naming history, giving you the life you would have lived with the name of your dreams.

Do you take him up on it? And if so, what name do you choose?


With best wishes of the season,

Laura

The Literary Name Timeline, take 2

Dec 17th 2010

Note: I posted a quite different version of this blog last night, but realized I wasn't being consistent with capitalization of input. Mea culpa.

 

Fictional names are a world apart from real-live baby names. The follow their own rules and their own patterns. Fictional adults routinely bear names of a different generation, like Samantha and Mackenzie. Picture-book kids have cuter, cuddlier, easier-to-pronounce names than real kids. Pen-named romance novelists choose one kind of name for their characters, another for themselves.

But do literary name styles change over time, rising and falling like real names on the NameVoyager? Would a literary curve reveal more about the name's place in our culture? Thanks to Google's new historical book-text grapher, "Ngram," we can get our first answers to those questions.

Ngram searches the full text of a large historical corpus of books. You can type in a word, a phrase, or a combination of words and phrases to compare. It returns a line graph, representing the rate of occurrence as a percentage of all words or phrases of the same length during each year.

To avoid skews from history, biography, etc., I choose to search the English Fiction corpus. I set the time period as 1880-2008 to most closely match the NameVoyager. (As noted above, it's essential to capitalize names as input; otherwise you come away with a dramatically different idea of names like "Dick" and "John.")

A few patterns quickly emerge. For instance, use of nicknames in literature has also soared over the past 25 years, as you can see in these plots of Jake vs. Jacob and Tim vs. Timothy. You'll also notice a reliable bump in the use of classic men's nicknames in the 1940s-early '50s.

When a baby name experiences a massive usage surge, there's often a significant time lag before that trend is reflected in book characters. Compare Steven babies vs. Steven books, or Amanda vs. Amanda.

In general, classic names are holding on better among fictional people than real ones. In part, that presumably reflects period settings of novels -- you're not going to call your 1890s frontier woman Kaitlyn. It also reflects the fact that a contemporary character created in 2007 may have been "born" in 1930. Even so, the absolute steadiness of a name like Martha suggests that the old standards retain their hold on our psyches, even as we refuse to give them to our babies.

Care to join me in the search? Can you unearth naming revelations from a century's worth of literature?