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.