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Gender: Female Meaning of Ellen: "bright, shining light" Origin of Ellen: English variation of Helen Ellen's Popularity in 2017: #734

The name Ellen is a girl's name of English origin meaning "bright, shining light". Ellen is ranked #734 on our popularity charts and is often added to lists like Middle Names for Girls and discussed in our forums with posts like "Baby a Day".

From the experts:

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.

Find other names based on Ellen using our baby name generator.

Famous People Named Ellen

Ellen Lee DeGeneres, American comedian
Ellen Grace (Philpotts-)Page, Canadian actress
Ellen Burstyn (born Edna Rae Gillooly), American actress
Ellen Kuras, American cinematographer
Ellen Cicely Wilkinson, English politician
Ellen Marie Barrett, first openly lesbian priest
Ellen Kathleen Pompeo, American actress
Ellen Rona Barkin, American actress
Ellen Anna Muth, American actress
Ellen Karolina Sofia Key, Swedish feminist author
Eleonora Maria "Ellen" van Dijk, Dutch cyclist
Ellen Gould White, American founder of Seventh-Day Aventism
Ellen Cleghorne, American comedienne
Ellen Foley, American singer
Ellen Greene, American singer
Ellen Gallagher, American artist
Ellen Louise Hopkins, American novelist
Ellen Jaffee, American politician
Ellen Jamison Kullman, American CEO
Ellen Hamilton Latzen, American actress
Ellen Barry, American Pulitzer-winning journalist
Ellen McLain, American singer and voice actress
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia
(Alice) Ellen Terry, English actress
Ellen Wong, Canadian actress
Ellen Meriam Go Adarna, Filipina actress
Ellen Rose Albertini Dow, American actress
Ellen Ochoa, American astronaut
Ellen Toni White, English football player
Ellen Barrett, fitness expert
(Ellen) Tyne Daly, American actress

Pop Culture References for the name Ellen

Ellen Rosen, main character in "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry
Ellen Josephine Hickle, character on TV's "The Adventures of Pete & Pete"
Ellen Robillard O'Hara, character in book/film "Gone with the Wind"
Ellen Griswold, character in the National Lampoon movies
Ellen "Ellie" Degler (nee Sattler), character in "Jurassic Park" series
"Ellen Foster," 1987 novel by Kaye Gibbons and its main character
Ellen Louise Ripley, main character in the 'Alien' franchise.
Ellen Harvelle, character on TV's "Supernatural "
Ellen, a main character in Ken Follett's "The Pillars of Earth"
Ellen Love, character on TV's "Mr. Selfridge"
Ellen Raven, character in Jenny Nimmo's "The Children of the Red King" series
Ellen, character in "Angus, Thongs and the Full Frontal Snogging" by Louise Rennison
Ellen Kaye, character in the film "Assassin's Creed"
Ellen Carr, main character in Eva Ibbotson's novel "A Song for Summer"
Ellen "Eli", main character of film "To the Bone"