Gender: Female Meaning of Nell: "bright, shining one" Origin of Nell: English, diminutive of Helen, Eleanor, et al

Nell Origin and Meaning

The name Nell is a girl's name of English origin meaning "bright, shining one".

Nell, once a nickname for Helen, Ellen, or Eleanor, is a sweet old-fashioned charmer that is fashionably used today in its own right. While Nell is perfectly in tune with contemporary vintage name style, it hasn't taken off the way some of its sisters have and so maintains an air of distinction. Use Nell or Nellie as a short for any name from Eleanor to Penelope or just name her Nell.

Nell was the pet name FDR called his wife Eleanor (along with Babs), the famous Little Nell in Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop was Elinor, and the infamous mistress of Charles II, Nell Gwynne, was born Eleanor as well.

Nell was the belle of the ball in the Gay Nineties, but has been off the charts since 1956. It's currently popular in France though, ranking at Number 144.

Jodie Foster played the title character of the 1994 movie Nell, and Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton named their daughter Nell, keeping the family tradition of names related to Helen.

16 names similar to Nell

These 16 names were selected by our users that were looking for other names like Nell. If you didn't find an alternative name that you like better than Nell, try our name generator. It allows you to go beyond the similarities of a name, which can provide a lot of inspiration!

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


- this week

Famous People Named Nell

Pop Culture References for the name Nell

Nellie, Nelly, Nelli, Nelley, Nelma, Nella

Nell's International Variations

Neile, Nela, Neila, Nialla (Irish) Nelya (Russian)


Ridesontwohorses Says:


Could Nell be a nickname for Amelia because Amelia= Mellie, Mellie= Nellie?

katinka Says:


I adore this name. Simple, strong, cute and quirky. Just perfect.

katinka Says:


Your name is all kinds of fabulous with your surname!

burg123 Says:


Sounds like a little kid name, and an old lady name, bu I can't picture this on a teenager or a middle aged adult.

Joyce Says:


My mother's name was Nell-Karen. I always loved the name. I do not know how her parents come to name her. There might have been some kind of European influence to the name. She was born in German of American parents.

paulapuddephatt Says:


Sorry about your friend. My best friend died, too. It's a lovely name, but how annoying for people to spell it as Neil. I think it's unusual as a given name. Nell was traditionally short for Helen, Ellen or Eleanor, but lately, hear it for Penelope, and various other names.

taylorthewriter Says:


Nell was the name of my best friend before she passed away; it's a great, strong name in its own right but I'll warn you now: everyone is going to misspell it as 'Neil'. It's what happened to my friend on almost every letter or newspaper mention she received. I'm always going to associate this name with a funny, kind, clever girl because that's exactly who she was.

alliebelle Says:


Not a fan, it makes me think of a stern old teacher or librarian figure. I guess it's all about associations.

cabosanmucus Says:


Nell is so elegant! I absolutely adore it. Not Nellie, just Nell in its full glory. 😊

EW314 Says:


Gorgeous, simple and strong. I love this as a standalone name but for various reasons I intend to use Helena with the nickname Nell for a daughter.

Impwood Says:


Nell can also be short for Fenella.

Daphodil Says:


This is such a sweet name. It makes me think of a happy toddler with rosy cheeks and dimples. Not sure I would be brave enough to use it on its own, but I would definitely love to meet a little Nell.

madmaddie Says:


Very pretty, but I know a not-so-nice person with the name, so I don't really like it.

ajt Says:


My favourite name! My first daughter will be a Nell

Eva Thyssen Says:


This is a pretty name, better than Nelly and Nellie IMO.

Nell Elphinstone Says:


My name is Nell, and so was 2 of my great aunts, That,s the reason i've been called Nell