Meaning: Its source is Helen, an English name meaning "Sun ray."
Languages: This girl's name is used in Dutch and English.
Popularity: The name Ellen ranked 459th in popularity for females of all ages in a sample of 2000-2003 Social Security Administration statistics and 126th in popularity for females of all ages in a sample of the 1990 US Census.
This name is highly rated in the 1990 U.S. Census popularity survey of all ages, but after 1960 does not appear in the state data listing the most popular baby names.
Narrative: The dropping and adding of the initial letter ''h'' in Ellen and Helen probably reflects shifts in pronunciation over time and geography, and perhaps over socio-economic lines as well.
G.B. Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion turns on the pronunciation of the phrase ''In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.'' Ambitious Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle struggles for much of the play to pronounce the ''h's'' and refrain from inserting one at the beginning of the word ''ever.'' She knows adopting the pronunciation favored by the upper classes could help her realize her ambition of selling flowers in a shop, rather than hawking them on the streets of London.
Other name pairs with ''h'' and ''h-less'' versions include Eloise and Heloise, and Ester and Hester.
Arts and Music
- Ellen Naomi Cohan
- Cass Elliott (see list of Nicknames of Musicians)
- Ellen Shipley
- Musical guest on ''''Saturday Night Live'''' (see list of Musical Guests on ''Saturday Night Live'')
- Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (born 1939)
- Ellen Hancock
- 5th Most Powerful Woman, Chairman and CEO, Exodus Communications (see list of 2000 Fortune 50 Most Powerful Women in American Business)
- Ellen Jackson
- 1967 National Council of Women''s Women of Conscience award winner for her creative community programs for children in Roxbury, Massachusetts (see list of Women of Conscience Award winners)
- Ellen Sulzberger Straus
Urban housing activist.
- 1970 National Council of Women''s Women of Conscience award winner for her work on housing problems in New York City (see list of Women of Conscience Award winners)
- Ellen O. Tauscher (born 1951)
- Representative, D-California, 1997- (see list of Women in the House of Representatives)
- Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur (born 1837, died 1880)
- Wife of Chester A. Arthur, 21st President (see list of United States First Ladies)
- Ellen Proctor
- 1970 Mademoiselle Award winner (see list of Mademoiselle Award Winners)
- Ellen Swallow Richards (born 1842, died 1911)
American chemist and educator.
- Member of National Women''s Hall of Fame (see list of National Women's Hall of Fame Members)
- Ellen Louise Axson Wilson (born 1860, died 1914)
- First wife of Woodrow Wilson, 28th President (see list of United States First Ladies)
Science and Philosophy
- Ellen S. Baker (born 1953)
- Astronaut on Atlantis (1989, 1995) and Columbia (1992) (see list of Spaceflight Veterans)
- Ellen Ochoa (born 1958)
- Mission specialist on Discovery (1993); first Hispanic woman in space (see list of Spaceflight Veterans)
- Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards (born 1842, died 1911)
- Founder of the field of home economics (see list of Chemists)
- Ellen Hensell
- 1887 U.S. Open tennis champion (see list of U.S. Open Tennis Champions)
- Ellen Kelly
- Member of the Women''s International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame (see list of Women's International Bowling Congress Hall of Fame)
- Ellen van Langen
- 1992 Olympic track and field gold medal winner for 800m (see list of Olympic Gold Medalists in the 800m Run)
- Ellen C. Roosevelt
American tennis player.
- 1890 U.S. Open tennis champion (see list of U.S. Open Tennis Champions)
Stage and Screen
- Ellen Burstyn (born 1932)
American actress. Original name: Edna Gilhooley.
- Ellen Cleghorne (born 1965)
American actress and comedienne.
- A cast member on ''''Saturday Night Live,'''' from 1991-1995 (see list of Saturday Night Live)
- Ellen Corby (born 1911)
- Portrayed Esther (Grandma) Walton from 1972-79 (see list of Actors on ''The Waltons'')
- Ellen Crawford
- Portrays Lydia Wright, RN (see list of Actors on ''ER'')
- Ellen Dolan
- Actress on soap opera ''''As the World Turns'''' (see list of Performers on ''As The World Turns'')
- Ellen Drake
- Portrayed Elizabeth Brand (see list of Actors on ''L.A. Law'')
- Ellen Drew
- Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Picture (see list of Movie Personalities with Stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame)
- Portrayed by Mary-Louise Parker (see list of Characters in the film Bullets Over Broadway)
- Ellen Pogrebin
- Portrayed by Susan Miller (see list of Characters in the film Sleeper)
- Ellen Stewart
- Character on the soap opera ''''As the World Turns'''' (see list of Characters on ''As The World Turns'')
- Ellen Travolta
- Actress on soap opera ''''General Hospital'''' (see list of Performers on ''General Hospital'')
The Literary World
- Ellen Gilchrist (born 1935)
American novelist and short story writer.
- 1984 National Book Award winner for Fiction, for Victory Over Japan (see list of Winners of the National Book Award for Fiction)
- Ellen Glasgow (born 1874, died 1945)
- 1942 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction, for In This Our Life (see list of Winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
- Ellen Goodman
- 1980 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary (see list of Winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary)
- Ellen O'Hara
- Scarlett''s mother in Margaret Mitchell''s Gone with the Wind (see list of Characters in Literature of the American South)
- Ellen Raskin (born 1928, died 1984)
American children's writer and illustrator
- 1979 Newbery Medal winner, for The Westing Game (see list of Newbery Medal Winners)
- Smelly Elly
- Tellin' Ellen
- Ellie Mae
- Ell Schmell
- Smellin' Ellen
- Ellen Smellin'
- Ellie Belly
- Big belly Ellie
- Spellin' Ellen
- Ellen, You Watermelon