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, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Denise.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Denise


Posts that Mention the Name Denise

Where did the baby name Debraca come from in 1977?

Debraca Foxx as the "beauty of the week" in Jet magazine (Nov. 1977).
Actress Debraca Foxx

The name Debraca surfaced in the U.S. baby name data in 1977:

  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: 7 baby girls named Debraca [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

And it never returned, making it a one-hit wonder.

My first thought was that Debraca might be mashup of Tristaca and Debbera, but some digging revealed a far more likely influence: Debraca Denise Foxx, the stepdaughter of comedian Redd Foxx (stage name of John Elroy Sanford).

Debraca appeared with Redd on an episode of his TV show Sanford and Son in January of 1977. Perhaps more importantly, in late 1977 she was presented as a “beauty of the week” in Jet magazine. (Other Jet beauties include Meyosha and Tchanavian.)

What are your thoughts on the name Debraca?

Sources:

Image: © 1977 Jet

P.S. Debraca dated Jackie Jackson, the oldest member of The Jackson 5, for a couple of years in the early ’70s.

How did DePrise Brescia influence baby names?

Swimsuit model DePrise Brescia
DePrise Brescia

The rare name Deprise appeared in the U.S. baby name data for three consecutive years:

  • 1994: unlisted
  • 1993: 5 baby girls named Deprise
  • 1992: 12 baby girls named Deprise
  • 1991: 5 baby girls named Deprise [debut]
  • 1990: unlisted

The even rarer name Brescia was a one-hit wonder in the data a few years later:

  • 1997: unlisted
  • 1996: unlisted
  • 1995: 5 baby girls named Brescia [debut]
  • 1994: unlisted
  • 1993: unlisted

I’m pretty sure the source of both names is a single person: swimsuit model and actress DePrise Brescia, pronounced deh-PREESS — think “Denise” — BRESH-uh.

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason, though.

During the early-to-mid ’90s, she was one of the co-hosts on ESPN’s workout show BodyShaping (1988-98), she was featured in multiple Bikini Open pay-per-view specials (as was Symba Smith of Star Search), and she had small roles on several television shows (like Silk Stalkings and Renegade).

I’ve seen her first name rendered various ways (e.g., Deprise, De Prise) but I don’t know how it was coined.

Her surname, on the other hand, has a straightforward explanation: it refers to the city of Brescia in northern Italy.

What are your thoughts on the names DePrise and Brescia? Which one do you like better as a baby name?

Sources:

What turned Epiphany into a baby name in 1987?

The character Epiphany Proudfoot (played by Lisa Bonet) in the movie "Angel Heart" (1987).
Epiphany Proudfoot from “Angel Heart”

The name Epiphany debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987, and saw peak usage the next year:

  • 1990: 37 baby girls named Epiphany
  • 1989: 33 baby girls named Epiphany
  • 1988: 55 baby girls named Epiphany [peak]
  • 1987: 15 baby girls named Epiphany [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Where did the come from?

The 1987 neo-noir/horror movie Angel Heart. The main character was a detective (played by Mickey Rourke), but one of the other key characters was a Louisiana teenager — and voodoo priestess — named Epiphany Proudfoot (played by Lisa Bonet).

When the detective and Epiphany first met (vid), about midway through the movie, he made several comments about her name:

  • “Your momma left you with a very beautiful name, Epiphany.”
  • “You’re a very pretty girl, Epiphany. Your name suits you.”

The variant spellings Apiphany, Apiffany, and Piffany all debuted in the data in 1988. (But these names, particularly Piffany, may have been influenced by the rise of Tiffany that year as well.)

One variant that didn’t make the data was the one given to professional basketball player Epiphanny Prince, born in 1988.

Epiphany Proudfoot — both in temperament and in name — was vastly different from Denise Huxtable, the character Lisa played on The Cosby Show.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Epiphany?

Sources:

What turned Sway into a baby name?

sway, gone in 60 seconds, movie, character
Angelina Jolie as Sara “Sway” Wayland

The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:

  • 2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
  • 2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
  • 2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: unlisted

For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.

One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.

The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:

Mary, Barbara, Lindsey, Laura, Alma, Madeline, Patricia, Carol, Daniela, Stefanie, Erin, Pamela, Olga, Anne, Kate, Vanessa, Denise, Diane, Lisa, Nadine, Angelina, Rose, Susan, Tracey, Rachel, Bernadene, Deborah, Stacey, Josephine, Hillary, Kimberley, Renee, Dorothy, Donna, Samantha, Ellen, Gabriela, Shannon, Jessica, Sharon, Tina, Marsha, Natalie, Virginia, Tanya, Grace, Ashley, Cathy, Lynn, Eleanor

So, how do you feel about the name Sway? If you were having a baby girl, would you be more likely to name her something modern, like Sway, or something traditional, like Sara or Susan?

Sources: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia, Talk:Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia

What gave the baby name Coretta a boost in 1968?

Civil rights activist Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)
Coretta Scott King

The baby name Coretta was the fastest-rising baby name of 1968:

  • 1970: 146 baby girls named Coretta [rank: 903rd]
  • 1969: 194 baby girls named Coretta [rank: 722nd]
  • 1968: 336 baby girls named Coretta [rank: 523rd]
  • 1967: 13 baby girls named Coretta
  • 1966: 16 baby girls named Coretta

The name also saw it’s highest-ever usage that year, as did the variant spelling Corretta. And another spelling, Koretta, appeared for the very first time in the data in 1968.

What was bringing all this attention to the baby name Coretta in 1968?

Coretta Scott King. She was the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., until his assassination on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. This event put Coretta and her children (Yolanda, Martin III, Dexter, and Bernice*) in the national spotlight.

Not long after the death of her husband, Coretta took Martin’s place as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. She was instrumental in establishing the national holiday Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — which happens to be today.

Coretta Scott King was named in honor of her paternal grandmother, Cora. The name Cora is a Latinized form of the ancient Greek name Kore (“maiden”), one of the epithets of the goddess Persephone.


*Usage of the names Yolanda and Dexter also increased markedly in 1968. The usage of Martin, which had been declining, saw an uptick that year. (Peak usage was in 1963, the year of MLK’s legendary “I have a dream” speech.) The usage of Bernice was seemingly unaffected by the assassination.

The four King children -- Dexter, Yolanda, Bernice, and Martin III -- in "Jet" magazine (Apr. 10, 1969).
Dexter, Yolanda, Bernice, and Martin III

Incidentally, in her 1969 book My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King talked about the naming of her daughters Yolanda (nicknamed Yoki) and Bernice:

I chose the name Yolanda Denise, but my husband had reservations about it. He questioned whether people would call her Yolanda or would mispronounce the name. He was right. Her name is so frequently mispronounced that it bothered her when she was growing up.

There is a tendency among middle-class African Americans to give their children unusual names. Perhaps they are seeking elegance or some special identification. I fell victim to this custom, rather than following the sensible practice of naming the baby after a member of the family. Later Martin said, “If we ever have another baby girl, I’m going to give her a simple name like Mary Jane.”

When we did have another daughter, we called her Bernice Albertine, after her two grandmothers. Her name was not quite Mary Jane, but at least she was named for members of the family.

Sources: Coretta Scott King – Wikipedia, Cora – Behind the Name
Images: © 1969 Life; © 1969 Jet