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

The name Ethel is a girl's name of English origin meaning "noble maiden". Ethel and is often added to lists like Old People Names and discussed in our forums with posts like "How many ____s do you know?".

From the experts:

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 "I Love Lucy".

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.

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

Famous People Named Ethel

Ethel Barrymore (born Ethel Mae Blythe), American actress
Ethel Clayton, American silent film actress
Ethel May Dell, English romance novelist
Ethel Carow Roosevelt Derby, daughter of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
Ethel Merman (born Ethel Agnes Zimmerman), American singer and actress
Ethel Turner, Australian novelist
Ethel Mary Smyth, English composer and feminist
Ethel Skakel Kennedy, widow of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy
Ethel Waters, American jazz singer and actress
Ethel Elizabeth Gee, English spy
Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg, American spy
Ethel Lilian Voynich, Irish novelist
Ethel Shannon, American silent film actress
Ethel Kremer Schwabacher, American painter
Ethel L. Payne, American journalist
Ethel Hays, American cartoonist
Ethel Hannah Catherwood, Canadian Olympic athlete
Ethel Azama, American jazz singer
Ethel Ayler, American actress
Ethel Percy Andrus, American educator and founder of AARP
Ethel Mary Cooper (b. 2011), daughter of singer Lily Allen

Pop Culture References for the name Ethel

Ethel Anderson, character on TV's "Brickleberry"
Ethel Parks, character on TV's "Downton Abbey"
Ethel Mertz, character on TV's "I Love Lucy"
Ethel May Skinner, character on British soap "EastEnders"
Ethel Hallow, character in "The Worst Witch" series
Big Ethel, character in Archie Comics
Ethel Darling, character in "American Horror Story: Freak Show"
Ethel Thayer, character in Ernest Thompson's "On Golden Pond"
Ethel Eldon, character in Mildred Keith series
Short for Ethelinda, Ethelberta, Ethelgoda, Etheldred, Ethelwynn, etc.
Ethel Hardy, character in G. A. Henty's "Out on the Pampas"
Ethel Toffelmeyer, character in "The Music Man"