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

The name Nell is a girl's name of English origin meaning "bright, shining one". Nell and is often added to lists like Vintage Baby Names for Girls and discussed in our forums with posts like "Girls Makeover - Two Middles".

From the experts:

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.

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

Famous People Named Nell

Eleanor "Nell" Gwyn, English actress and mistress
Laura Elizabeth "Little Nell" Campbell, Australian actress and singer
Nell Ruth Carter, American singer and actress
Nell Rose Hudson, British actress
Nell Tiger Free, English actress and singer
Nell Blair Walden Blaine, American painter
Nell Bryden, American singer
Nell Mary Dunn, English playwright
Nell Freudenberger, American novelist
Tracey Jane "Nell" McAndrew, English glamour model
Nell McCafferty, Irish journalist and playwright
Nell O'Day, American actress and equestrian
Nell Rankin, American operatic mezzo-soprano
Nell Shipman (born Helen Foster-Barham), Canadian actress
Ragnhild "Nell" Westgaard Sigland, Norwegian singer of Theatre of Tragedy
Scottie Nell Hughes, American political commentator
Nell Burton, daughter of Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton
Nell Gorman (b. 2009), son of actor Burn Gorman
Nell Elizabeth Kennedy (b. 2015), daughter of politician Patrick Kennedy

Pop Culture References for the name Nell

Nell Trent aka Little Nell, main character in Charles Dickens' "The Old Curiosity Shop"
Nell Kellty, main character in movie "Nell"
Nell Bedworth, character in movie "It's a Boy Girl Thing"
Nell Jones, character on TV's "NCIS: Los Angeles"
Nell Turbody, character on TV's "Rescue Me"
Nellodee "Nell," character in Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer"
Nell McLaughlin, character in "My friend Flicka" by Mary O'Hara
Nell Fenwick, character in the "Dudley Do-Right" segments of animated series "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show"
Nell Mangel, character on Australian soap opera "Neighbours"
Nell Stone, main character in "Euphoria" by Lily King, inspired by the life of Margaret Mead

Nelli, Nelley, Nellie, Nelly, Nelma, Nella

Nell's International Variations

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