The baby name Tennille debuted impressively in the U.S. baby name data in 1975. In fact, it was one of the top debut names of the 1970s overall. It also inspired dozens of variant spellings (even more than Deneen had!):
(Tyneal, Tennielle, Tannille, Tenneal, Tennillie, Tinelle, Taneille, Teneile, Tenneill, Tenneille, Tennill, and Tinnelle were one-hit wonders.)
Tennille’s trendiness only lasted a few years, but the name was popular enough to reach the top 1,000 for three years straight in the late 1970s:
- 1981: 87 baby girls named Tennille
- 1980: 140 baby girls named Tennille
- 1979: 113 baby girls named Tennille
- 1978: 141 baby girls named Tennille [rank: 984th]
- 1977: 425 baby girls named Tennille [rank: 462nd]
- 1976: 769 baby girls named Tennille [rank: 300th]
- 1975: 103 baby girls named Tennille (debut)
- 1974: unlisted
- 1973: unlisted
So, where did the name come from?
The musical duo Captain & Tennille, made up of married couple “Captain” Daryl Dragon and Cathryn Antoinette “Toni” Tennille. Their first hit song was the very ’70s-sounding “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which was released in April of 1975 and peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June.
The band got even bigger in 1976: “Love Will Keep Us Together” won the Grammy for Record of the Year, “Muskrat Love” became their second hit, and they began hosting the weekly Captain and Tennille variety show on television. (It lasted 20 episodes.)
The surname Tennille is probably of French origin. My guess is that it’s a variant of Tenniel, which is thought to derive from the French place name Thénioux.
Do you like Tennille as a baby name? Would you use it? (How would you spell it?)
- Captain & Tennille – Wikipedia
- Harrison, Henry. Surnames of the United Kingdom. Vol. 2. London: The Morland Press Ltd., 1918.
P.S. Did you know that there are two Canadian country singers named Tenille?