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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 "Elimination Game".

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"


abertawe Says:


If a name potentially being called ugly outrages and offends you, it might be a good idea to not peruse name sites. Opinions abound! 0.o

Frances Says:


I really like the nick name 'Nellie' or 'Nelle'

Ziggy2112 Says:


You need to work on your reading comprehension.

helen m Says:


Thank you for saying that .. Ellen is such an ugly name, I Knew it could not have been Greek...

Mikayla395 Says:


Ellen is lovely.

Bobcat108 Says:


I think you misread the Name Info: The authors are not saying that Ellen is an ugly name; they're paraphrasing what a character in a novel says:

"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."

The authors of this site also point out that few people today would make the statement that Ellen is an ugly name.

ellenspencerhall Says:


"ugly given name" excuse fucking me i am outraged. how dare you say that ellen is an ugly name. that is so offensive on so many levels.

Elne Clare Says:


My dad objected to naming me Ellen, due to this nickname. He lost the battle though and the only persons who were allow to call me Ellie were his mother and sister-in-law. Later due to y relationship with my grandmother, it became a term of endearment for me and I have allow sever dear friends and lovers to call Me Ellie. Now many people call me Elne.

Just never call me Helen. I always hated it when strangers would call me that and it really burned when one lady keep spelling it Helen in my music books back in 3th grade.

Elne Clare Says:


Ellen doesn't actually come from the Greek Helen, but is an Old English word and means strength, courage and sometimes in Old English zeal. If you have access to the Oxford English dictionary you can find it as Elne, which is the modern English spelling.

I discover this when I was 14 and looking for words that were derive from Elf and El, when I was interested in the elvish language of the Lord of The Rings, that J.R.R Tolkien developed. This was right after I also learned he had worked on the original edition of the OED. Elne is also a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.

I been using Elne Clare as my user name in several online games and forums online since 1996 and since name my Jewelry Business Elne Clare Designs.

cabosanmucus Says:


Honestly I like Ellen way more than Helen though Ellen is a midcentury name to me like Joanne or you know. But I think the Swedish Elin is absolutely striking and cool. And on an unrelated note, I love Belen (Belén).

Haids1987 Says:


Ann and Ellen sound like lovely little girls hosting a tea party. :) What a pretty combination.

EW314 Says:


I love Ellen - it's clear, bright, pretty and there's something no-nonsense about it. Elle would be a lovely nickname but honestly I don't think Ellen needs one.

Impwood Says:


I've always loved this name. I'm not so keen on Ellie; I think Ellen on its own is wonderful. I love the description of it as sensitive and clear-eyed; that is just how I see it.

lesliemarion Says:


I fell for this name unexpectedly. I think twins named Anne and Ellen would be wonderful. It is pleasant and sensible and the double l's are pleasing. And cheyenne is right - it looks lovely in cursive. :)

ThistleThorn Says:


I love Ellen DeGeneres and you could call her Ellie.

cheyenne_melody123 Says:


I actually love this name so much! I think it has a strong femininity and I think ti looks really pretty in cursive!