[ 2 syll. et-hel, eth-el ] The baby girl name Ethel is also used as a boy name, though it is far more popular for girls. It is pronounced EH-TH-ahL †. Ethel's origin is Old English, and its use, English. Older forms of the name include Aethel (Old English) and Athala (Germanic). The name is from the Old English aethel (meaning 'noble, honorable'); it evolved as a short form of various rare Anglo-Saxon names beginning with 'Ethel-', such as Etheldreda, Ethelburga ('noble fortress'), Ethelgiva ('noble gift'), and Ethelinda ('noble snake'). The name was invented by English speakers during the vogue for Old English names in the 19th century, and it was popularized as the name of main characters in the William Makepeace Thackeray novel The Newcomes (1855) and the Charlotte Mary Yonge story The Daisy Chain (1856).
Ethel is a contracted form of the English Etheldreda.
Ethel is also a contracted form of the English Ethelinda.
The name Ethel is used to a great extent; it has 28 forms that are used in English and foreign languages. English forms of Ethel include Ehtel, Eithel, Etha, Ethela, Etheld, Ethelda, Ethelde, Etheleen, Ethelene, Ethelin, Ethelina, Ethelind, Ethelinde, Etheline, Ethella, Ethelle, Ethelyna, Ethelyne, Ethelynne, Ethlyn, and Etilka. Other English forms include the contracted forms Eth and Thel, the familiar form Ethelyn, and the spelling variant Ethyl. Forms used in foreign languages include the Yiddish Atal and the Hungarian Etel.
Ethel is uncommon as a baby girl name. In 1900, 1.225% of baby girls were named Ethel. It was #8 in rank then. The baby name has seen a substantial decline in frequency since then, and is used only on a very modest scale today. Within all girl names in its family, Ethel was nevertheless the most popular in 2018. Ethel has primarily been a baby girl name in the last century. In 1928, 98 times more baby girls than boys were given the name Ethel.
† Pronunciation for Ethel: EH as in "ebb (EH.B)" ; TH as in "theme (TH.IY.M)" ; AH as in "mud (M.AH.D)" ; L as in "lay (L.EY)"
Details of famous persons named Ethel:
Actress Ethel Merman, born Ethel Agnes Zimmerman 16 January 1909 - 15 February 1984, New York, New York.
Political Relative Ethel Kennedy, born Ethel Skakel 11 April 1928, Chicago, Illinois.