Gustav Dehning was very interested in names and their origin. He found out that the names Dening or Denecke and similar forms were once first names that had developed from the Old-German name Degenhard. Later the names had become surnames.
You can say that the development was as follows: Degenhard to Degener, Degenicke, Denecke, Denicke, Dening, Dehning.
The 'h' in our name doesn't have any meaning, it indicates that a vowel is to be spoken as a long vowel. That's why more and more church clerks put it in the name. Until 1700 the names were also names of farms. Sometimes the same farm had different forms of the name: Denecke, Dene, Dening etc. The writers had great difficulty in deciding which name to take.
What does our name mean?
The Old-German word Degenhard, from which our name developed, can already be found in the 8th century and was very common in the Middle Ages. The first part «degen» means a free man, a hero, a brave warrior. The second part «hard» means hard, bold, strong.
Thus the first form of our name can be translated with bold fighter, strong hero, brave man.