How popular is the baby name Denise in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Denise and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Denise.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Denise

Number of Babies Named Denise

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Denise

Where Did the Baby Name Toosdhi Come From?

Toosdhi from To Catch a ThiefThe baby name Toosdhi debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1969:

  • 1973: unlisted
  • 1972: 7 baby girls named Toosdhi
  • 1971: unlisted
  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: 5 baby girls named Toosdhi [debut]
  • 1968: unlisted

Where did it come from?

It’s not a variant of Tuesdee, which happened to debut the same year.

Instead, Toosdhi is one of the dozens of baby names that debuted thanks to minor television characters (e.g. Ibe, Alethea).

In Toosdhi’s case, the character was featured on a single episode of the late ’60s TV show It Takes a Thief.

In “To Catch a Roaring Lion,” which first aired on the very last day of 1968, main character Alexander Mundy (played by Robert Wagner) is sent to the fictional African country of Zambutiko to recover a set of ancient scrolls. In Zambutiko, Mundy meets Toosdhi Mboto (played by Denise Nicholas). After introducing herself, Toosdhi spells out her unique name:

“I’m Toosdhi.”

“Well, this is the first time that Monday’s ever going to follow Tuesday.”

“As with your name, it’s spelled differently. T-o-o-s-d-h-i. Toosdhi Mboto. My identification.”

“I don’t think I can read this out here, the sun is so bright. Why don’t we go to some dark spot, with rum in it.”

“I will be your personal guide while you’re here, Mr. Mundy.”

“You can call me Al.”

The name made a second appearance on the national list in the early ’70s, likely because of reruns, but hasn’t been back since.

Source: It Takes a Thief – Season 2, Episode 12: To Catch a Roaring Lion –

Gaiety Girl Names – Ellaline, Florence, Moya

Gaiety Girl Camille Clifford
Camille Clifford
Before there were Follies girls, there were Gaiety Girls.

These were showgirls appearing in Edwardian musical comedies at London’s Gaiety Theatre during the 1890s.

There’s no definitive list of all the Gaiety Girls, but here are a few of them:

  • Alice Delysia
  • Billie Carleton – birth name Florence
  • Blanche Massey
  • Camille Clifford – birth name Camilla
  • Cicely Courtneidge – birth name Esmerelda
  • Connie Gilchrist – birth name Constance
  • Constance Collier – birth name Laura
  • Denise Orme – birth name Jessie
  • Dorothy Minto
  • Eleanor Souray
  • Ellaline Terriss – birth name Mary (Ellaline was her middle name)
  • Evelyn Laye – birth name Elsie
  • Florence Smithson
  • Gaby Deslys – birth name Marie-Elise-Gabrielle
  • Gabrielle Ray
  • Gertie Millar – birth name Gertrude
  • Gina Palerme
  • Gladys Cooper
  • Irene: Irene Desmond, Irene Richards
  • Jessie Matthews
  • Jose Collins – birth name Charlotte
  • Kitty Gordon – birth name Constance
  • Lily Elsie – birth name Elsie
  • Mabel: Mabel Love, Mabel Russell
  • Mamie Watson
  • Marie Studholme – birth name Caroline
  • May: May Etheridge, May Gates
  • Moya Nugent
  • Olive May
  • Phyllis Dare
  • Rosie Boote – birth name Rose
  • Sylvia: Sylvia Grey, Sylvia Lillian Storey
  • Zena Dare – birth name Florence

Which of the above names do you like best?

Sources: Gaiety Girls – Wikipedia, Gaiety Girls exhibition – National Portrait Gallery
Image: Camille Clifford – National Portrait Gallery

Cosby Show Baby Names – Vanessa, Keshia, Phylicia…

cosby showRemember The Cosby Show?

The ground-breaking ’80s sitcom focused on the Huxtables, a well-off African-American family living in New York City. It starred Bill Cosby as Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable.

The show ran from mid-1984 to mid-1992 and was the top-rated program in the nation for 5 consecutive seasons.

And it influenced a whole bunch of baby names, such as…

Vanessa & Tempestt

Vanessa, the second-youngest Huxtable child, was played by Tempestt Bledsoe. The baby name Vanessa saw its highest-ever levels of usage during the years the show was on:

  • 1989: 6,955 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 50th)
  • 1988: 7,515 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 41st)
  • 1987: 7,345 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 43rd)
  • 1986: 7,367 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 43rd)
  • 1985: 7,562 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 42nd)
  • 1984: 7,153 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 45th)
  • 1983: 6,383 baby girls named Vanessa (ranked 49th)

And the baby name Tempestt debuted on the charts the year after the show premiered:

  • 1990: 70 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1989: 98 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1988: 72 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1987: 87 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1986: 78 baby girls named Tempestt
  • 1985: 36 baby girls named Tempestt [debut]
  • 1984: unlisted
  • 1983: unlisted

The name Tempest also got a boost during the last half of the ’80s.

Rudy & Keshia

Rudith “Rudy” Huxtable, the baby of the family, was played by Keshia Knight Pulliam. The baby name Keshia entered the top 1,000 for the very first time the year after the show premiered:

  • 1990: 385 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 594th)
  • 1989: 496 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 479th)
  • 1988: 398 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 547th)
  • 1987: 483 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 457th)
  • 1986: 511 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 426th)
  • 1985: 321 baby girls named Keshia (ranked 596th)
  • 1984: 96 baby girls named Keshia
  • 1983: 64 baby girls named Keshia

The name Rudy also rose in usage, and the variant spelling Rudi debuted on the charts in 1985.


Huxtable mother Clair was played by actress Phylicia Rashād. The baby name Phylicia entered the top 1,000 for the first time two years after the show premiered:

  • 1990: 257 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 787th)
  • 1989: 265 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 744th)
  • 1988: 286 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 679th)
  • 1987: 290 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 649th)
  • 1986: 213 baby girls named Phylicia (ranked 789th)
  • 1985: 122 baby girls named Phylicia
  • 1984: 13 baby girls named Phylicia
  • 1983: 7 baby girls named Phylicia

Theo & Malcolm-Jamal

Theo, the middle Huxtable child (and the only male in the family besides Cliff) was played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner. The baby name Theo almost tripled in usage the year after the show premiered:

  • 1990: 66 baby boys named Theo
  • 1989: 75 baby boys named Theo
  • 1988: 77 baby boys named Theo
  • 1987: 75 baby boys named Theo
  • 1986: 85 baby boys named Theo
  • 1985: 76 baby boys named Theo
  • 1984: 23 baby boys named Theo
  • 1983: 26 baby boys named Theo

Usage of the baby name Malcolm also began to rise in the mid-’80s, and the baby name Malcolm-Jamal (rendered Malcolmjamal by the SSA, which leaves off hyphens) debuted on the baby name charts two years after the show premiered:

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: unlisted
  • 1988: 5 baby boys named Malcolm-Jamal
  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 5 baby boys named Malcolm-Jamal [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted
  • 1983: unlisted

(Where did actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner get his name, btw? He was named after civil rights activist Malcolm X and jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal.)

So now here’s the question: Does The Cosby Show beat Family Ties in terms of impact on the baby name charts? Cosby clearly affected a greater number of names, but is that enough to offset the massive rises of both Mallory and Alex?

P.S. Did you know that Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy Huxtable were loosely based on Cosby’s real-life kids Erika, Erinn, Ennis, Ensa, Evin?

Baby Names Inspired by Prince

prince album controversy cover
Prince’s 1981 album Controversy

I recently read something about Prince and Apollonia, and it reminded me I hadn’t yet blogged about Prince and Apollonia. So here we go…


Prince — his real first name — was born in Minnesota in 1958. His full legal name is Prince Rogers Nelson. The “Prince Rogers” part comes from his father, who was a jazz musician with the stage name Prince Rogers (real name: John Nelson).

Prince’s albums started coming out in the late ’70s: For You (1978), Prince (1979), Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and so forth.

Did Prince’s musical career affect the usage of the baby name Prince?


  • 1986: 150 baby boys named Prince
  • 1985: 195 baby boys named Prince
  • 1984: 206 baby boys named Prince
  • 1983: 167 baby boys named Prince
  • 1982: 137 baby boys named Prince
  • 1981: 146 baby boys named Prince
  • 1980: 131 baby boys named Prince
  • 1979: 92 baby boys named Prince
  • 1978: 73 baby boys named Prince
  • 1977: 59 baby boys named Prince
  • 1976: 65 baby boys named Prince

Usage of the name Prince, which had been relatively steady for decades, started to rise right away. It hit a high point in 1984, the year Purple Rain (both the album and the movie) came out. After that, usage declined. (Perhaps Prince had become a little too famous at that point?)


Speaking of Purple Rain the movie…it earned Prince’s co-star Apollonia Kotero (born Patricia Apollonia Kotero) a Razzie nomination for “Worst New Star” in 1984.

Apollonia was part of a girl group, Apollonia 6, that Prince had put together. (Their one single, “Sex Shooter,” was also featured in Purple Rain and nominated for a Razzie.)

Did Apollonia influence the usage of the baby name Apollonia?


  • 1988: 15 baby girls named Apollonia
  • 1987: 29 baby girls named Apollonia
  • 1986: 53 baby girls named Apollonia
  • 1985: 67 baby girls named Apollonia
  • 1984: 28 baby girls named Apollonia
  • 1983: unlisted

The name had charted a few times before, back in the early 1900s, but Prince’s protégé Apollonia put it back on the map in 1984. She also gave variants Apolonia and Appollonia a boost.


Speaking of girl groups with the number 6 in their names…Vanity 6 was another female trio put together by Prince. It was nearly the same as Apollonia 6, but had a different lead singer: Denise Katrina “Vanity” Matthews.

Vanity left the band in 1983 after just 2 years, but continued putting out music as a solo artist during the ’80s.

Did Vanity influence the usage of the baby name Vanity?


  • 1989: 102 baby girls named Vanity
  • 1988: 116 baby girls named Vanity
  • 1987: 89 baby girls named Vanity
  • 1986: 76 baby girls named Vanity
  • 1985: 103 baby girls named Vanity
  • 1984: 45 baby girls named Vanity
  • 1983: 56 baby girls named Vanity
  • 1982: 5 baby girls named Vanity [debut]
  • 1981: unlisted

Vanity debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1982 and its peak year was 1988.


Did you know Prince had a female alter-ego named “Camille” for a time?

In fact, Camille was going to be the name of a 1986 album by his alter-ego Camille, but the project was scrapped. (The songs were going to be sung with altered vocals.)

If the album Camille had come out that year, though, what affect do you think it would have had on the trajectory of the baby name Camille?

Name Quotes for the Weekend #14

name quote amy poehler

From an interview with Amy Poehler in The Daily Beast:

Amy Poehler has five parenting tips: “Always remember your kid’s name. Always remember where you put your kid. Don’t let your kid drive until their feet can reach the pedals. Use the right size diapers…for yourself. And, when in doubt, make funny faces.”

From an old episode of the The Rachel Maddow Show:

[T]he single, least important but most amazing thing about covering the life and times of Buddy Cianci for me was always the name of his wife. Buddy Cianci was married to a woman named Nancy Ann. Here name is Nancy Ann Cianci. Nancy Ann Cianci — the single, most awesome name in all of the names tangentially related to American political scandal ever. Nancy Ann Cianci.

From The baby name dilemma: sensible English or crazy Californian? in the Telegraph:

Why not give my first born a head start in Californian life? I’m sure when he’s older and I take him and his mates Zen and Jazz out for a wheatgrass smoothie, he’d thank me for it. But what if his cruel English father one day moves him back to London? What then for poor Dove, as he tries to make friends with all the Toms and Harrys back in Blighty? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it: Tom and Harry would throw bird s*** at him and then flush his head down the bog.

From a 2003 interview with Jhumpa Lahiri in the New York Times:

JG: In the new book, you explain that all Bengalis have private pet names and public “good names.” But the main character in “The Namesake” is given only one name: Gogol, after the Russian writer.

JL: That happened to me. My name, Jhumpa, which is my only name now, was supposed to be my pet name. My parents tried to enroll me in school under my good name, but the teacher asked if they had anything shorter. Even now, people in India ask why I’m publishing under my pet name instead of a real name.

JG: What does Jhumpa mean?

JL: Jhumpa has no meaning. It always upset me. It’s like jhuma, which refers to the sound of a child’s rattle, but with a “p.” In this country, you’d never name your child Rattle. I actually have two good names, Nilanjana and Sudeshna. My mother couldn’t decide. All three are on the birth certificate. I never knew how to write my name.

From a live chat with Prudie of Slate:

Q. Who Is Courtney?: I’ve noticed that whenever you need to make up a fictional female name, you always pick “Courtney.” What’s up with that? Just curious!

A: I used to reflexively write, “Denise” and I once got a funny letter from a Denise asking what a Denise ever did to me. Good point that I need a name book by my computer. I like Courtney because I don’t know any and it’s a likely name of a person in her 20s, the way Susan is Courtney’s mother, Dorothy is her grandmother, and Myrna is her great-grandmother.

…and later in the same chat:

Q. Re: Courtney: I once had a professor who would reflexively use the name “Stacy” for a generic female and then mutter, to a room full of students born in the ’80s, “That’s such an ’80s name.” The Stacys in the room—and there always was at least one—got a good laugh out of it.

A: I’ll add this to my repertoire! But a quick look at a reference confirms my sense that Stacy is such a ’70s name.

From an article on ostentatious baby names:

The reason is simple. If you really want your kid to be special, a name is not going to do it. Your kid is going to have to earn it. She is going to have to work hard and sacrifice. She’ll have to try and fail and eventually find her place — find whatever she’s good at — and then work harder to develop her talents.

It will be easier to do that if she is humble. And it will be easier for her to be humble if she doesn’t have a name that makes her think she’s precious and special and God’s gift to the universe (such as Nevaeh, which is heaven spelled backward).

It’s nobody’s fault that we’re screwing up kids’ names — we’re screwing up a lot of things. We’re doing it because we’re able to. We’re able to because the American experiment has produced untold wealth — which shifted our focus from trying to subsist, as our parents did, to fretting over what to name our kids.

We have to knock it off, though.

From an ESPN interview with Frostee Rucker, football player:

How did you get the name Frostee?

“My pop [Len] was a DJ while he was in the military and they called him DJ Frost because they said he was cold on the spins. [They called him] Frost, Frostee all that. No matter what he named me they were going to call me Little Frost anyway, so they named me Frostee.”

So Frostee is your given name?

“Yup, that’s my given name.”

What was it like growing up named Frostee?

“It sucked growing up really because kids at Christmas time and teachers, and me being African American, it just didn’t all come together but about [the] time I came to high school it became a household name in Orange County (Calif.).

“It’s just benefited [me] from then. It’s always caught peoples’ eye in the paper and they wanted to know more. So I don’t know if I’ll name my kid that if I ever have one but at the same time being unique isn’t bad either.”

From German Court Upholds Ban on Extra-Long Names in TIME Magazine:

The decision on which names to accept and which to reject is generally left to the local registrar, but that decision can be contested in court. And sometimes the court’s ruling can seem rather arbitrary. While the names Stompie, Woodstock and Grammophon have been rejected by German courts in the past, the similarly creative parents of Speedy, Lafayette and Jazz were granted their name of choice.

(Grammophon is German for Gramophone.)

From a Slate article on Puritan names:

A wide variety of Hebrew names came into common usage beginning in 1560, when the first readily accessible English Bible was published. But by the late 16th century many Puritan communities in Southern Britain saw common names as too worldly, and opted instead to name children after virtues or with religious slogans as a way of setting the community apart from non-Puritan neighbors. Often, Puritan parents chose names that served to remind the child about sin and pain.

(The book they used as a source — Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature — is one I’ve referenced here on the blog a bunch of times, in posts about Acts of the Apostles, George William Frederic, Gib & Tib, Job-Rakt-Out-of-the-Asshes, Nan & Nanny, Posthumus, Robert and Tibbe.)

From an article about tennis-playing sisters Alicia “Tornado” Black and Tyra Hurricane Black:

[I]t’s their mom, Gayal Black, who is behind the girls’ brand-worthy names, designed to minimize comparisons with Venus and Serena Williams, and establish a unique, powerful identities for the sisters.

“I have a marketing degree…and I knew I needed to do something for them to stand out, and we thought it was cute,” Gayal told ESPNW.

Tornado was born Alicia, but Gayal says the nickname came from her daughter’s ferocious tennis skills as a three-year-old. “We couldn’t believe how amazing she was and we knew then we had a champion. When the next one was born, we knew she could do it, too, and so her [legal] name is Tyra Hurricane.”

“[Tornado didn’t like her name] a few years ago. Kids tease you. But now they understand it’s marketing and it’s very big to say a storm blew through the US Open.”

Dad Sly added that the names started as “a little joke” but “turned out to be a pretty big deal.”

“Yes, Tornado and Hurricane are names for marketable athletes, but that’s a big part of it nowadays, and if you can get a good, strong name, all the better.”

(Found out about the Black sisters via Abby – thanks!)

Baby Names that Became Less Popular in 2011

The SSA has re-ordered the top 500 (or so) most popular baby names by rank change. According to these lists, the boy and girl names that decreased the most in terms of rank from 2010 to 2011 were these:

Girl names:

  1. Brisa, -343 (464th to 807th)
  2. Dana, -147 (463rd to 610th)
  3. Desiree, -121 (473rd to 594th)
  4. Denise, -114 (489th to 603rd)
  5. Kimora, -109 (498th to 607th)
  6. Brenda, -104 (426th to 530th)
  7. Erika, -103 (429th to 532nd)
  8. Miley, -99 (217th to 316th)
  9. Danna, -98 (267th to 365th)
  10. Janiya, -91 (448th to 539th)

Boy names:

  1. Brett, -119 (389th to 508th)
  2. Jamarion, -112 (475th to 587th)
  3. Shaun, -105 (483rd to 588th)
  4. Jaydon, -100 (492nd to 592nd)
  5. Nickolas, -86 (465th to 551st)
  6. Brenden, -81 (382nd to 463rd)
  7. Davion, -76 (474th to 550th)
  8. Braiden, -76 (468th to 544th)
  9. Salvador, -75 (457th to 532nd)
  10. Braeden, -67 (409th to 476th)

To know which names fell the most overall, check out my follow-up posts Biggest Changes in Girl Name Popularity, 2011 and Biggest Changes in Boy Name Popularity, 2011.

Names Needed for Twin Baby Girls

A reader named Grace would like some help naming her twin girls, due in a couple of months. She and her husband John already have three boys, Jackson, Samuel and Lucas.

So far, their favorite girl names are Juliet, Isla, Susannah and Norah. But they’re also considering a family name:

We would love to honor my mother, Denise Marie, but we despise both names. I would love some ideas on how to use that without actually using those names.

For the middle spots, they’re aiming for virtue names. They already have Honor picked out, and “[i]f there is another virtue name you would suggest so they both had one that would be great!”

Their last name is similar to Cawston.

On the current favorites…
I like all of the current favorites. The pairing I like best, though, is Juliet and Susannah. I just think they sound good together. I also like how they can both be shortened, just like the boys’ names — Jack, Sam, Luke, Jules & Sue (or Julie & Susie).

On incorporating Denise Marie…
One way to incorporate Denise Marie would be to find a name that features the sounds of both Denise and Marie (especially those D- and M-sounds). Names with these sounds include Madeline, Demetria, Dominique/Domenica, Damaris, Adamina, Amadea and Idamae.

Another approach would be to use initials — either the initials “D. M.” for one twin or a D-name for twin #1 and an M-name for twin #2. Some possibilities (beyond the names above) include Dahlia, Daisy, Damiana, Daphne, Dara, Delphine, Diana, Dina, Dora, Dorothy and Drusilla for D-names and Mara, Marian, Marlene, Martina, Mina, Mirabelle, Miranda, Miriam, Molly, Monica and Mona for M-names.

On virtuous middles…
My first thought was Mercy, because it sounds a lot like Marie. Other virtue names that might make nice middles are Amity, Charity, Clementine/Clemency, Hope, Joy, Patience, Peace/Pax, Temperance and Verity.

Now it’s your turn! Which of Juliet, Isla, Susannah and Norah do you like best for twins? What names can you come up with to honor Denise Marie? Which virtue names do you like best for middle names?