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Gender: F Meaning of Ellen: "bright, shining light" Origin of Ellen: English variation of Helen Ellen's Popularity in 2015: #705

An Old English form of Helen, the sensitive but clear-eyed Ellen has swung in and out of style for centuries, often alternating with the parent name. Ellen was the more common in medieval England, until after the Renaissance, when Helen overtook her. In Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, set at the end of the nineteenth century, one character wonders why another has not changed her "ugly" given name to something prettier, like Elaine—a statement few would make today.

Ellen has been the name of two First Ladies—Arthur and Wilson—and is Scarlett O'Hara's mother in Gone with the Wind. These days, the ubiquitous Ellen DeGeneres has almost made it a single-owner name, though Ellen Page has been rejuvenating it of late.

Famous People Named Ellen

Ellen Lee DeGeneres, American comedian
Ellen Philpotts-Page, better known as Ellen Page, Canadian actress
Ellen Burstyn, American actress
Ellen Kuras, American cinematographer
Ellen Marie Barrett, first openly lesbian priest
Ellen Kathleen Pompeo, American actress
Ellen Rona Barkin, American actress
Ellen Foley, American singer
Ellen Greene, American singer
Ellen Gallagher, American artist
Ellen Hopkins, novelist
Ellen Jaffee, American politician
Ellen Kullman, American businesswoman
Ellen Hamilton Latzen, actress
Ellen Barry, Pulitzer-winning journalist
Ellen McLain, singer
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia
Ellen Terry, British actress
Ellen White, author
Ellen Wong, Canadian actress
Ellen Lupton, American writer and graphic designer
Ellen Lanyon, American artist
Ellen Adarna, Asian actress
Ellen Dow, American actress
Ellen Altfest, artist
Ellen Ullman, American author
Ellen Ochoa, astronaut

Pop Culture References for the name Ellen

Ellen in Angus, Thongs and the Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Ellen Rosen - main character in the book Number the Stars
Ellen Josephine Hickle, character from The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Ellen Robillard O'Hara, from Gone with the Wind.
Ellen Griswald, from the "National Lampoon" movies
Ellen Foster, 1987 novel
Ellen Louise Ripley, main character in the 'Alien' franchise.
Ellen Harvelle, from CW's Supernatural
Ellen, a main character in Ken Follett's "The Pillars of Earth"
Ellen Love, character in Mr. Selfridge
Ellen Raven, character in Jenny Nimmo's "The Children of the Red King" series