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Gender: F Meaning of Ethel: "noble maiden" Origin of Ethel: English

Popularity: this week.

Ethel is a name we once declared as 'So Far Out They'll Probably Always Be Out,' but with the return of other names on that list and with its new starbaby cred via Lily Allen, its soft sound and admirable meaning, we're not so sure.

At the turn of the last century, when Ethel Barrymore was the belle of Broadway, her first name was wildly popular, a Top 10 name for sixteen year and in the Top 100 until 1939. Other well-known bearers have been musical stars Ethel Merman and Ethel Waters and Robert Kennedy's widow. Not so distinguished: Ethel Mertz on The Honeymooners.

Ethel fell away from such Old English appellations as Ethelberta, Ethelreda and Ethelinda. Now THOSE, we think we can safely say, are so far out they'll always be out.

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Famous People Named Ethel

Ethel Barrymore, American actress
Ethel Clayton, American silent film actress
Ethel M[ay] Dell (1881-1939), British romance novelist
Ethel Roosevelt Derby, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt
Ethel Merman, American singer and actress
Ethel Turner, Australian novelist
Ethel Mary Cooper (2011) daughter of Lily Allen
Ethel Smyth, English composer and feminist
Ethel Kennedy, widow of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy

Pop Culture References for the Name Ethel

Ethel Parks, character in TV's "Downton Abbey"
Ethel Mertz, character in TV's "I love Lucy"
Ethel Hallow, character in the TV series "The Worst Witch"
Short for Ethelinda, Ethelberta, Ethelgoda, Etheldred, Ethelwynn, etc.

Ethelda, Ethelin, Ethelinda, Etheline, Ethelle, Ethelyn, Ethelynn, Ethelynne, Ethill, Ethille, Ethlin, Ethlyn, Ethlynn, Ethyl, Ethyll