13    Mar 20131 comment

Surname of the Week: Dennis

Welcome back to our weekly edition of the history of English surnames.

Today we look at DENNIS, in honor of the debut of the "Dennis the Menace" comic strip on March 12, 1951.

DENNIS comes from the medieval personal name Den(n)is (Latin Dionysius, Greek Dionysios’  - follower) in reference to an early Eastern god believed to be the protector of the vine.

St. Denis, the 3rd-century martyred Bishop of Paris, was one of the first mentions. However, the modern popularity of the name in England came in the 12th-century, via a French influence. The first recording of the name was believed to be Walter Denys in 1272. Throughout the centuries, the surname developed with DENNIS being a variant.

Other variants are the English DENCH and the Irish DONOHUE or MACDONOUGH. Donnchadh was an Anglicized version of Donough or Denis. Another Irish variation is Donnghus, a personal name from donn  (brown-haired man or chieftan) and gus (vigor).

On MyHeritage, the surname DENNIS is listed by 81,687 people, and there are 6,240,715 records for the surname. The most common given names are William, John, Mary, James and Sarah.

Do you have a DENNIS in your family tree? Of MyHeritage members, 64% with that surname come from the USA, 18% from Great Britain, and 7% from Canada. Where will you discover DENNIS family roots or one of the variations?

Are you a DENNIS or do you have one in your family tree? Are you looking for the origins of your surname? Share your comments below or on  FacebookTwitter or Google+.

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  1. I'm a Dennis & was, pretty much, a menace in my early elementary school days (was held back in 2nd grade). Because of my age, I remember Dennis the menace TV series quite well. I'm not sure where my surname came from; due to the fact that I never met my father (was adopted when I was an infant)

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