How popular is the baby name Debbie in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Debbie and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Debbie.
The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.
The cause was the catchy song “Cindy, Oh Cindy,” two versions of which reached the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1956 and early 1957. The one by Vince Martin and The Tarriers peaked at 12th, while the one by Eddie Fisher* peaked at 10th. Television audiences also heard the song: Perry Como sang it on his own show in November 1956, and Vince Martin sang it on The Steve Allen Show a month later.
Getting back to Cindylou, though…there are some possible outside influences for the debut of Cindylou specifically. The most intriguing is Cindy-Lou Who (“who was no more than two”) from the beloved Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, which was published simultaneously in Redbook magazine and as a standalone book in December of 1957.
Now, Cindy-Lou was a minor character, and the story appeared late in the year — these are strikes against the theory. But, looking at vital records, there do seem to be a few extra people with the first-middle combo “Cindy Lou” born in December of 1957 as opposed to earlier in the year.
It’s likely that Dr. Seuss (or one of his editors) was influenced by the trendiness of the name Cindy that year…but did Cindy-Lou Who in turn give a bump to the name Cindylou? What are your thoughts on this?
*Later in 1957, Eddie Fisher’s wife, Debbie Reynolds, scored an even bigger hit with “Tammy.” Around the same time, their daughter, Carrie — who went on to play Princess Leia in Star Wars — had her first birthday.
P.S. The Buddy Holly song “Peggy Sue” (1957) was originally called “Cindy Lou,” incidentally.
According to the state-by-state data, Deneen usage tended to be highest in the most populous states. This isn’t much of a clue, but it does tell us that the influence was national (e.g., movie, music) and not regional (e.g., college sports, local politician).
For a long time my only guess on Deneen was the same guess Hilary Parker made in her poisoned baby names post: musical duo August & Deneen. But their hit single “We Go Together” came out in 1968 — long after the 1964 baby name spike. So August & Deneen clearly isn’t the answer.
About a month ago I tried another Deneen search. This time around I found a recent thread on Deneen at the Baby Name Wizard forum. According to intel gathered by forum members, Deneen could have been popularized by a ’60s commercial for Ivory dishwashing liquid.
At first I wasn’t so sure. The only vintage Ivory commercials I could find online were for Ivory Snow laundry detergent and, while many of these did feature names (e.g., Allison, Betsy, Bonnie, Debbie, Esther, Joy, Kerry, Kimberly, Michelle, Terry) the names were never on-screen. You don’t get a spelling-specific name spike if the influence is audio-only.
Then I noticed, lower down in the thread, that someone included a link to a single Ivory dishwashing liquid commercial from 1962. The spot featured a mother-daughter pair, “Mrs. Bernard Pugar and Dana,” and their names were indeed shown on-screen for several seconds. Now this looked promising.
I’ve since tracked down a similar Ivory commercial featuring “Mrs. Blake Clark” and her daughter Nicky, though Nicky’s name was never shown on-screen. No luck finding a Deneen version yet.
So I’ll just sit tight and hope that, one day, someone uploads the commercial in question and puts this whole Deneen baby name mystery to rest. :)
In the meanwhile, some questions:
If you were watching TV in the ’60s, do you happen recall an Ivory dishwashing liquid commercial featuring the name Deneen? (Long shot, I know.)
What do you think of the name Deneen? Which spelling do you like best?
P.S. Djuna popped up on the baby name charts in 1964 as well. I’m declaring 1964 the year of the mysteriously trendy D-names.
A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.
I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”
Here’s the list:
Have any favorites?
Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.
BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.
We’ve seen how foreign-sounding names are correlated to lower salaries (thanks to prejudice during the hiring process) but here’s something new: longer names are correlated to lower salaries as well.
Several months ago, job-search site TheLadders examined the names of nearly 6 million users and determined that shorter names, including nicknames, are correlated to higher salaries. In fact, they went so far as to say that “it looks like every additional letter added to your name accounts for a $3,600 drop in annual salary.”
So what’s the explanation? Why are people with short names being paid more?
For nicknames, it may just be that men and women in high-paying leadership roles use nick-forms of their names (Bill vs. William, Debbie vs. Deborah) to seem friendlier and more approachable.
But the part of the study that looked at minor spelling differences (Sara vs. Sarah, Michele vs. Michelle, Philip vs. Phillip) is harder to explain. Any ideas?