English variation of Helen
"torch; shining light"

Ellen Origin and Meaning

The name Ellen is a girl's name of English origin meaning "torch; shining light".

An medieval 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, it's most strongly associated in the US with comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

# 920 in the US

Ellen Rank in US Top 1000

# 715 on Nameberry

Ellen Rank in Nameberry Top 1000

Ellen Popularity

Famous People Named Ellen

  • (Alice) Ellen TerryEnglish actress
  • Ellen WongCanadian actress
  • Ellen Lee DeGeneresAmerican comedian and TV host
  • Ellen Burstyn (born Edna Rae Gillooly)American actress
  • Ellen KurasAmerican cinematographer
  • Ellen Cicely WilkinsonEnglish politician
  • Ellen Marie Barrettfirst openly lesbian priest
  • Ellen Kathleen PompeoAmerican actress
  • Ellen Rona BarkinAmerican actress
  • Ellen Anna MuthAmerican actress
  • Ellen Karolina Sofia KeySwedish feminist author
  • Eleonora Maria "Ellen" van DijkDutch cyclist
  • Ellen Gould WhiteAmerican founder of Seventh,Day Aventism
  • Ellen CleghorneAmerican comedienne
  • Ellen FoleyAmerican singer
  • Ellen GreeneAmerican singer
  • Ellen GallagherAmerican artist
  • Ellen Louise HopkinsAmerican novelist
  • Ellen JaffeeAmerican politician
  • Ellen Jamison KullmanAmerican CEO
  • Ellen Hamilton LatzenAmerican actress
  • Ellen BarryAmerican Pulitzer,winning journalist
  • Ellen McLainAmerican singer and voice actress
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleafpresident of Liberia
  • Ellen Meriam Go AdarnaFilipina actress
  • Ellen Rose Albertini DowAmerican actress
  • Ellen OchoaAmerican astronaut
  • Ellen Toni WhiteEnglish football player
  • Ellen Barrettfitness expert
  • (Ellen) Tyne DalyAmerican actress

Ellen in Pop Culture

  • Ellen Rosenmain character in "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry
  • Ellen Josephine Hicklecharacter on TV's "The Adventures of Pete & Pete"
  • Ellen Robillard O'Haracharacter in book/film "Gone with the Wind"
  • Ellen Griswoldcharacter in the National Lampoon movies
  • Ellen Mackenzie Frasermother of James “Jamie” Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser in the TV series “Outlander”
  • Ellen "Ellie" Degler (nee Sattler)character in "Jurassic Park" series
  • "Ellen Foster" 1987 novel by Kaye Gibbons and its main character
  • Ellen Louise Ripleymain character in the 'Alien' franchise.
  • Ellen Harvellecharacter on TV's "Supernatural "
  • Ellena main character in Ken Follett's "The Pillars of Earth"
  • Ellen Lovecharacter on TV's "Mr. Selfridge"
  • Ellen Ravencharacter in Jenny Nimmo's "The Children of the Red King" series
  • Ellencharacter in "Angus, Thongs and the Full Frontal Snogging" by Louise Rennison
  • Ellen Kayecharacter in the film "Assassin's Creed"
  • Ellen Carrmain character in Eva Ibbotson's novel "A Song for Summer"
  • Ellen "Eli"main character of film "To the Bone"
  • Ellenunseen character in the Garfield comic strip by Jim Davis, Jon Arbuckle would often ask Ellen out for a date, over the phone, she was seen in
  • 2006 as a blonde woman wearing a striped dress
  • Ellen LandryHuman Female Starfleet Officer, on the hit TV series, Star Trek: Discovery, Landry was played by actress Rekha Sharma
  • Ellen Hillrecurring character on TV's "Madam Secretary"

Ellen in Nameberry Blog Posts