Longtime naming mystery Deneen

This isn't really a dilemma, so much as a nagging curiosity. The baby name Deneen has a really huge, massive spike in 1964, being given to 1604 girls (and 7 boys) in that year. Alternate spellings of Daneen, Denean, Danean, Dineen, Doneen, and Dennen also received a boost that year, though not as wildly - which makes me think the trigger is more likely to be something auditory like a TV show. Previously, the name Deneen trundled around in obscurity with 1-2 dozen female Deneens born at most, each year. I'm familiar with it as a surname, and I'm dying with curiosity as to what made the name slam on the accelerator so hard. It tapers down over the course of the decade, so it's definitely a pop culture association that brought on the spike, not just the fashionable sounds. Check out that wild rise:

yob1964.txt:Deneen,F,1604 and M,7


October 5, 2014 5:23 PM

Mystery is probably overselling, but maybe it can give us something to think about now that it looks like GiannaMarie and Sasro seem to have come close to solving the questions of which names to give their daughters. :)

October 5, 2014 6:25 PM

Hahaha, well if you're bored I can almost certainly create more dilemmas and start a new thread ;) Kidding... I hope I'm done! I can't offer much insight on Deneen, but I did have a Dineen a few years older than me in school. She have been born in the early eighties. I've never heard the name other than on her though, so especially with my generation I agree that it was not at all common. I didn't realize it was so popular at one point.

October 5, 2014 7:02 PM

Huh, I knew a couple in high school (both Danine) so it never occured to me that there was a mystery!  I always assumed it was one of those names that was always in use, just never really popular.  Both my Danine's would've been born late 60's/early 70's, so they were a little late for the 1964 spike.

My guess is a pop-culture reference that in retrospect would seem pretty obscure.  Soap opera character or a one-hit-wonder song perhaps?  A google search for "soap opera Deneen" found this article, which I'm guesisng you may have already seen.


A google search for "Deneen song 1964" and "Deneen song 1963" didn't lead me to anything.  The most I can come up with is stuff like Dean Martin & Jan and Dean.  But if it was just a popular sound,  agree it would have stuck around longer and Denise seems like a more intuitive way for people to feminize Dean.

I also found a site that says Deneen is a Hebrew name, but it gives 3 different and unrelated Hebrew meanings (vindicated, slender/delicate & ornament/brightness).  It's not on behindthename.com, so I'm thinking this should be taken with a big grain of salt.  Perhaps Miriam will care to weigh in?


October 5, 2014 10:57 PM

My first thought was that the spellings aren't diverse enough that it's a misheard song lyric, like the song lyric Que Sera leading to all of those Casaras: http://www.nancy.cc/2011/01/20/baby-names-inspired-by-misheard-song-lyrics/

But, song lyric searches for Deneen are not fruitful*... and the list of soundalikes that rose is actually much longer, including:

I'm thinking a song lyric, potentially misheard, is actually a very good explanation with that diversity of spellings. Either that, or a soap opera character -- do soap operas usually have credits with character names spelled?

*Well, they are, but I get a song called "I promise not to be an A-----e" by Arcwelder which turns out probably to have been written FOR one of those 1964 Deneens.

October 5, 2014 10:23 PM

I was googling for people with the name Deneen. It does not appear to be confined to one region or ethnic group. Perhaps this is a bit morbid, but after finding an obituary, I started trying to find other obituaries since that gives biographical information. Many of them talk about a strong faith in God, and list them as members of evangelical, Baptist, and Methodist churches. I wonder if an evangelical preacher named Deneen was huge around 1964.

October 5, 2014 11:18 PM

I wonder if the difficulty finding the source has to do with this being a local phenomenon?  Like, what if ALL those 1600 people were in a fairly restricted location?  I could see some kind of, say, restricted-to-California thing meaning a bunch of girls in CA born with that name, but it not making a blip on the wider radar, and thus being harder to track down. 

By Jun
October 6, 2014 12:48 AM

The peak wasn't limited to one location.  I'm curious, too. 

October 6, 2014 2:06 AM

Hmm, I've found one clue, but haven't been able to verify it. On Baby Name Hub there is a discussion of the name "Daneen" with several comments. One says: "My name is Daneen my mother found the name on a Ivory soap commercial in !964. I have only know 2 other Daneen all spelled differently though. born in 1964 also." I haven't been able to find the commercial in question, but after looking at several from that era it seems plausible--many start with a pretty woman or cute baby (or three generations, grandmother, mother, baby) identified by name.

Anyone know any Deneens? I think asking them for their name origin stories might be the most fruitful approach. Maybe someone could tweet a query :-).

October 6, 2014 2:14 AM

YES! I think this is an EXCELLENT explanation that explains the proliferation of spellings! It seems like a character name would have to be more standardized, but commercials don't have credits! Oh, hurray! Thank you so much, nedibles!

October 6, 2014 2:19 AM

Also on Facebook, someone reports, "Happy Valentine's day IVORY! And thank you for my name! (my mom got my name "Deneen" from an IVORY Liquid commercial in 1964!"

October 6, 2014 10:09 AM

@lucubratrix & @mk--Excellent, so glad to have confirmation! Of course, now I'm itching to track down the actual commercial--I want to see the face that launched (more than) a thousand names!

October 6, 2014 11:42 AM

Me too!! Hard to track down, though - I tried a bit last night! I agree, Deneen is totally the Helen of Troy of baby names!

By EVie
October 6, 2014 1:09 PM

I found a lot of Ivory commercials circa 1970 on YouTube, but none specifically identified as 1964. I watched a bunch, but didn't find any Deneen before I couldn't take it anymore (housewives, wash your dishes with Ivory liquid soap so your husbands will admire your youthful-looking hands! 30-year-olds, if you use Ivory you might not look totally decrepit! And the best (worst) was the one promising "that little girl look," which featured an adult woman looking into the mirror and seeing a ten-year-old. Because clearly all women older than ten are already decrepit, and all our bread-winning husbands are secretly lusting after ten-year-olds).

October 6, 2014 6:16 PM

That's terrible, but also kind of funny! Thanks for your hard working in finding Deneen!

October 7, 2014 10:02 AM

I blame you for the TWO HOURS I spent watching old soap ads in horrified fascination yesterday evening.

October 7, 2014 10:24 AM

Yes, I watched almost an hour's worth before posting, hoping that I could say definitively "THIS is the commercial!" My husband didn't understand why I was suddenly obsessed with soap ads, lol. This adds to my desire to see the original Deneen, though--was she an adorable baby? A princess in a bubble bath? A housewife with pereternaturally beautiful hands??? I'm sure the name style helped--it probably sounded like a fresh take on Noreen/Doreen/Janine/Maureen which were all tailing off around then--but was there also something about the girl in the commercial? (I'm pretty sure she would have been referred to as a girl, even if she was a 35-year-old housewife.)

By EVie
October 7, 2014 1:01 PM

I was wondering that, too! Deneen must have been a cut above the ordinary smooth-handed housewives in the other commercials, if she inspired such a following. Or maybe the others would have inspired namesakes, too, if they had names.

October 7, 2014 1:19 PM

I don't know.  Madge the Manicurist who soaked her customers' hands in some brand of dishwashing liquid didn't. to my knowledge, inspire a whole host of little Madges.  Of course, even Madonna didn't bring back Madge....

October 7, 2014 1:28 PM

Most of the ads out there online are for Ivory Snow (housewife/nurse with adorable baby touting safety of Ivory-Snow-washed diapers).

The Ivory LIQUID ads (mentioned by the Deneen on facebook as her name's origin) are for dish soap and they tend to feature the Sex Appeal of Youthful Hands. In addition to the "30-something housewife hidden among stewardesses and indistinguishable from them because of her hands" (which, seriously, WHAT?), one of the related schticks those ads contain is the Mother/Daughter pair that are mistaken for one another.

The 30-something decrepit housewives in all the 60s ads are referred to as Mrs. Husbandsfirst Surname, because you want to make sure that the audiences know that a woman using Ivory Liquid would neeeeever be a divorcee, because who would say no to those hands? But the daughters are referred to by their first names.

Example with Mrs Bernard Puger and daughter Dana: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7m4jiYZFl8 - a commenter mentions that this commercial shtick continued through to the 1980s, so I'm guessing it was a staple, even though it seems bizarrely to be less well archived than the interminable Ivory Snow commercials.

I'm thus willing to bet that Deneen was a wholesome teen playfully splashing in the soap suds of her mother, in the model of Dana. I too would love to see the face of the Deneen who launched a thousand names, but I bet that the appealling on-trend sound of the name was the biggest part of it.

This has all made me think I should fire up the ol' paraffin hand spa, because in spite of an excellent, well-loved dishwasher I do a fair amount of scouring out pump parts in super-hot water and my hands would never pass for those of a swinging 60s stewardess!

October 7, 2014 1:31 PM

I think it took until the 70s for the housewives in Ivory liquid soap to start getting their own first names mentioned. Which is kind of surprising, because I know these days it takes major effort to refer to someone as Mrs. Husbandsname Surname, especially in the absence of the Husband.

By mk
October 6, 2014 2:19 AM

Seems possible. A Deneen mentions the commercial on the Ivory facebook page.

October 6, 2014 2:12 AM

I've turned up that a cameraman named William Deneen who was doing work with Encyclopedia Brittanica films in the 1963/1964 timeframe, but it doesn't strike me as a very ilkely explanation, unfortunately.

October 6, 2014 11:03 PM

It looks like the Deneen spike has been incorrectly attributed to a musical group called August and Deneen in the past.

They had a one hit wonder with, "We go together," in 1967, so after the spike, though perhaps they kept it afloat a bit?

I also found sites suggesting it's a mash-up name of Denise and the een ending. 

I don't think that would account for the sudden spike, but it would be an example of names becoming trendy partly because they also have a currently trendy sound (Laura has explained this many times).

I've now spent much too much time looking for that Ivory ad, so someone post if you find it! 

I'm also really wanting to Tweet at random Deneens for answers. Maybe I will........

October 6, 2014 11:46 PM

You guys are all awesome! I can't believe you solved this thing that had been bugging me for so long!

I bet that August and Deneen kept it alive a bit, and I also believe that the name originated as a Denise and -een mashup... but I am pretty darn sure that it was a woman hawking her youthful hands on TV that caused the name to come to people's attention and then catch on like wildfire for a few years!

I don't have a twitter account, so I would love it if someone else took it upon themselves to tweet for answers!

October 9, 2014 7:04 AM

Wow. This thread was fascinating, but I'm really glad that I was out of town until Tuesday night as I would have been obsessively watching Ivory soap ads. Your descriptions were so vivid that I feel I can let it go. 

Do you think there's someone at YouTube who is wondering about the peculiar spike in the number of Ivory ads watched? LOL.

October 12, 2014 3:21 AM

I had to register to get in on this thread because my middle name is Deneene!  Yep, born in 1964 in Ohio.  I met 2 girls in jr high with Deneene (or however they spelled it) as first names.  They are they only other girls that I have known with this name.  I have no idea where my mother pulled this name from but I like it.

October 12, 2014 11:51 PM

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Deneene! If your mother is still available for asking, I surely would love to hear whether our guesswork was correct!

November 12, 2014 4:32 AM

Hey, everyone, we got blogged about!

Nancy does awesome work solving name mysteries all the time so I feel super-flattered that she's citing this. Good work, sleuths!

November 12, 2014 10:31 AM

Awesome! I was inspired to finally ask Ivory--I messaged them at Facebook, which is apparently their contact-method-of-choice. I haven't actually usually used my Facebook account since about 2009, so I wasn't quite prepared to make a public post, but if someone else is brave enough to do so maybe we'd get a quicker response.

November 12, 2014 5:37 PM

Good idea! I posted to Proctor&Gamble's page and will update with the outcome!

November 13, 2014 7:16 PM

I can't seem to let this go! Darn you, lucubratrix and your naming mysteries! Anyhoo...I found one more piece of evidence supporting the Ivory theory, but still not the video, alas. Thought I'd compile it all here:

 "My name is Daneen my mother found the name on a Ivory soap commercial in !964. I have only know 2 other Daneen all spelled differently though. born in 1964 also." http://www.babynameshub.com/girl-names/Daneen.html (This was the first clue found.)

"Deneen Cook Happy Valentine's day IVORY! And thank you for my name! (my mom got my name "Deneen" from an IVORY Liquid commercial in 1964!" https://www.facebook.com/Ivory/posts/208568322574865 (I think this is the post lucubratrix originally found to corroborate the theory.)

"My mum got it off of an Ivory soap Commercial. There was a mother and daughter on it and the daughter’s name was Deneen. I mean, I like the name, but my close friends call me Lissia." http://www.angelfire.com/celeb2/lissiarose28/bio.html (This is the new bit; it's a transcript of a long interview--search on page for Ivory to go to the relevant quote.)

November 13, 2014 11:58 PM

Wow, nedibes, well done you! I think you've pretty much solved it definitively, really -- the mother/daughter pairing is just as we suspected. I bow down to your superior google-fu.  I suspect that the commercial just isn't archived online- for whatever reason the Ivory Snow ads are much more appealing.

(And I'm so sorry that you are being haunted by this as much as I was! But I hope you also share my feeling of tremendous satisfaction that you all managed to crack this longstanding mystery... and if it was stumping Nancy of the abovelinked blog, you know it was a very tough one.)


November 14, 2014 4:48 PM

LOL, yes, it is satisfying...if I could see the commercial, I could probably even let it go :).

November 14, 2014 6:10 PM

Ha, did you see that Nancy's blog has a whole LIST of open, unsolved naming mysteries?


Perhaps what you need is to transfer to a different naming mystery. :)


November 14, 2014 6:39 PM

OMG, I may never sleep again!

November 15, 2014 3:37 PM

Ha, sleep is overrated!

Incidentally, up there where I said "you all" it should have been directed towards you, since I think you really cracked this one singlehandedly. I feel like letting you loose on Nancy's mystery list is totally the best shot the world has at answering these questions!

November 14, 2014 3:09 PM

I know a D'Neen (sometimes just DNeen). She was named after the girl on the Ivory commercial.

November 14, 2014 4:17 PM

YES. We have official confirmation from a regular poster!! Thanks so much!

November 14, 2014 4:39 PM

Glad I could help! I remember when I met her several years ago, I asked how she got her name. Good thing I remembered! Now I wonder if there are any other D'Neen's or Dneen's with that spelling.

November 14, 2014 4:47 PM

Yay! Thanks for posting!

June 11, 2015 3:00 PM

My first name is Deneen, middle name Leann, I was born in 1966 in Washington State.  Others have mentioned that there was a spike of Deneen's born in 1964.  My mom is no longer around to ask but I am guessing with all that I have read in regards to the origin of Deneen, she probably heard it in 1964, while pregnant with my brother, and then had to save it for another 2 years, when I was born. 

I will have to ask my sisters, who are older, if they know where Mom came up with my name.  I have met a few other Deneens in my life, a few on the West Coast, a few on the East Coast.  One, that I heard about last night, has my exact spelling, and my same age of 49.   

January 9, 2016 3:52 AM

Hello , my name is Deneen, and I was born on August 21st 1964. My mother also told me that she saw an Ivory soap commercial with a young woman named Deneen. She loved the name and thus it was given to me. Her first born. When I was 21 years old I went to a mall during the Christmas holiday season and there was a man at a booth with a computer. He had a sign that read. What does your name mean? I was intrigued, to say the least , because I've always found my name to be unusual. I met one other Deneen (same spelling) who was in my 7th and 8th grade class. We tried to become best friends simply because we shared the same unusual name. It didn't work, although we did remain friends, just not best friends. Anyway , as I approached the booth, I could see all sorts of names written all over a poster board that he had. I already knew that my name wouldn't be there. It never is. As he watched me press forward with a very curious look on my face ,he asked me if I wanted to know the meaning of my name. I said ,yes ,however, I explained to him, that my name is not very popular.  After spelling it for him ,he typed it in and it came up with the meaning,  GOD IS WITH ME. HE IS NEAR. I loved that because it explained my entire life up to that point. Just to make sure though ,I spelled Deneen in several different ways ,and the results were always the same. I have always had a close personal relationship with God. He was the one who initiated the relationship between us, when I was just 7 years old. It would be interesting to see if other Deneen's born that year or with that name have had similar experiences. 

April 19, 2018 12:04 AM

The board is still broken, so to fill the mounting silence I thought I'd point out that the thread on Nancy's blog actually includes THE original Deneen, the one who was starring in the commercial, coming out of the woodwork.


Paging all those people who wanted to know what THE Deneen who launched a thousand namesakes looks like: it turns out she's actually *also* the Deneen who went on, as part of the duo August & Deneen, to launch the song "We Go Together:

This is pretty amazing, as the same Deneen led to both the first spike and then the protracted later spike!

Anyway, while I don't have THE commercial, you can listen to her, and there's a picture of what she looks like here:

Or here: http://www.larrybisso.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=26804993

I feel so proud of this board for laying this longtime mystery to rest, and the contribution of the original namesake Deneen Castriano is really putting a beautiful bow on the whole affair. 

May 11, 2018 10:18 AM


May 11, 2018 1:24 PM

This is so satisfying. Now we just need to see that commercial :). I feel like Ivory could make something of an internet/social media "thing" out of this--the Ivory ad that launched a thousand babies!

June 7, 2018 7:28 PM

My mom is from Bakersfield.  She said my name came from an ivory hands commercial with the mother daughter pair.  My name is spelled Deanean.  I love having such a unique name.

June 8, 2018 12:14 AM

Thanks for this awesome confirmation, Deanean! I love that you have the exact detail confirmed, down to the mother-daughter pair detail! It's a beautiful name, and thank you for sharing its story!

December 15, 2018 11:03 AM

My name is Deneen &  I was born in February 1064. Growing up, I hated the name because I could never find personalize items & that was a big thing in my day & also because my siblings had normal every day name. I asked my mother where she got the name from & she said an Ivory Snow commercial that featured a mother & her twin daughters named Deneen & Janine. BTW,  I learned to love my name. They even have a club on FaceBook.

December 15, 2018 11:06 AM

That's supposed to be Feb 1964, but I'm sure you knew that!!!

December 18, 2018 2:39 PM

Thank you so much for providing this additional information about the ad, Deneen! On this board we love to discuss twin names and matching twin names in particular, so this is a really fun twist to the name mystery's resolution! It does make me particularly amazed that there aren't any archives of this ad, because the twin angle seems like it would really elevate this commercial over the others in the series... and that probably explains why it was so captivating to viewers at the time, providing Deneen in the context of a familiar name like Janine!