Ellie: Getting to Ellie from Eleanor, Ellery, and More


Getting to Ellie

Ellie makes a great name for a daughter. Spunky and sweet, it’s surprisingly versatile, the kind of name so familiar that we’re never surprised to hear it.

And yet it does feel casual. Plenty of parents consider whether or not to choose a formal name for Ellie.

And why not? Possibilities abound. Evergreen classics, exotic imports, tailored surnames, and daring new choices all offer options.

If you’re considering inking Ellie on your daughter’s birth certificate but would like something a little longer for formal occasions, read on.

The Classics

Elizabeth, Elisabeth – Worn by queens and saints, it’s impossible to argue with the enduring appeal of this name. It is also possible to choose another nickname, from Liz to Betsy to a dozen more.

Eleanor, Elinor – Equally regal, but slightly less common, though Eleanor now ranks in the US Top 100.  Variant spelling Elinor brings to mind Jane Austen’s heroine in Sense and Sensibility. Eleonore is yet another variation.

Nearly as Traditional

Elaine – A cousin to Helen, kept alive in the tales of King Arthur, Elaine peaked in the US from the 1920s through the 1950s. That makes it a grandmotherly choice today, but with nickname options Ellie and Lainey, don’t count it out.

Elena – Instead of Elaine, most modern parents favor the globe-spanning Elena. You might spell it Elaina or Alaina, but it’s the straightforward Elena that ranks in the current US Top 100. It’s even more popular elsewhere in the world.

Elise – “Für Elise” might be Beethoven’s famous piece for piano, which makes this name feel traditional and musical, too. (For what it’s worth, the Elise for whom the piece was composed? She’s lost to history.) It’s tough to peg this name to a particular decade, making it timeless, just like Elizabeth, from which it is derived.

Eliza – Another Elizabeth name, Eliza crackles with energy. It boasts plenty of history, from Hamilton! to My Fair Lady, and notable bearers galore. Plus the emphasis on the ‘z’ sound makes this feel thoroughly modern.

Ella – Wildly popular, Ella requires no nickname. And yet, it’s easy to imagine an Ella sometimes answering to Ellie.

Ellen – Looking for a no-nonsense name for a daughter? Ellen fits the bill.

Eloise – Kay Thompson’s enduring children’s book character made Eloise a household name, but it’s only recently that it’s started climbing the popularity charts again.

Imports

Eliana, Elianna, Elliana, Ellianna – I long assumed this was an elaboration of Ellie, along the lines of Liliana, choose your spelling. But it has roots in Hebrew, as well as an ancient Roman family name, by way of Greek. If it didn’t exist, we would’ve invented it.

Elodie – A thorougly French option, Elodie fits with so many three-syllable, ends-with-y or -ie girl names.

Elsa – So close to Ella, but with an extra sound, Elsa ought to be on the rise. Except it’s so tied to the ice queen of Frozen fame that parents are steering clear – at least for now.

Elspeth – A Scottish twist on Elizabeth.

Elvira – Long associated with a popular song by the Oak Ridge Boys, as well as a campy actress known for hosting horror movies on television, Elvira felt unwearable for some time. But how ’bout Mozart’s piano concerto, known as the “Theme from Elvira Madigan,” a 1967 movie? Based on the true story of a circus performer and military officer who fall in love, run off together, and end tragically, it’s a haunting tale. As the other pop culture references fade, perhaps the piano piece makes the name worth considering.

Surnames

Campbell – Journalist Campbell Brown helped put this surname on the list of possibilities for girls, complete with nickname options Cam, Cammie, Bell, Bella, and Ellie.

Ellery – Long an under-used masculine choice, Ellery could join Avery and Emery as a girls’ name.

Ellington – Jazzy.

Elliot, Elliott – Both spellings are popular for boys, and sometimes heard for girls, too. Author George Eliot – the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, adds to this perception, as do names like the French Eliette.

Ellis – Awfully close to Alice, but perfectly plausible as a given name.

Ellison – With Allison in mom name territory, maybe Ellison is the logical heir. It fits with Madison, Emerson, and so many other surname-style girl names we’ve embraced in recent decades. And it easily reduces to Ellie.

The Ending Says Ellie

Annabel, Annabelle, Arabella – Any of these could possibly work, though I tend to hear them called Bella or Belle instead.

Ariel, Arielle, Ariella – A name with history aplenty, Disney launched Ariel for girls with The Little Mermaid. But today, the names succeed on their own merits, including that stylish -elle sound.

Brielle – Originally short for Gabrielle, Brielle also inspired spin-offs like Abrielle. Any of them could shorten even more.

Emmanuelle – Rarely heard in the US, Emmanuelle is long enough to encourage shortening, and Ellie is nearly as likely as Emmie.

Estelle, Estella – Another long-used name ending with the right sounds.

Isabella, Isabelle, Isobel– The most popular of the ends with -ella names, though I rarely hear them shortened to Ellie.

Gabriella, Gabriela, Gabrielle – Long-time favorites, all of the Gabrielle names have faded slightly in recent years, but they still lend themselves to Ellie.

Giselle – A romantic French name with a tragic ballet to match.

Mariel, Marielle, Mariella – A rarity in any form, Mariel and company seem like overlooked gems.

Unconventional Routes

Amelia, Emilia – So many Amelias answer to short forms. Mia, maybe, or Amy or Millie. But Ellie? It feels like a stretch, but maybe it works.

Endellion – A Cornish name with ties to a saint, and the correct sound found in the middle.

Elowen – A modern Cornish name meaning elm tree, easy to reduce to Ellie.

Elsinore – A place name from Shakespeare, Elsinore makes for a literary twist on Eleanor.

Eluned – An early Welsh saint.

Everild – One of my favorite neglected gems, though I’d probably call Everild Evie.

Elvia – A true rarity, but perhaps worth consideration.

Marcelline – Elle is buried in the middle of many a name – Penelope, Cornelia.  In most cases, Ellie feels non-intuitive, but somehow I can hear Ellie coming from Marcelline.

Would you ever use the name Ellie?  Would you consider a longer name?  Which one?  Are there any I’ve left off?  And do you know any little Ellies?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on May 25, 2008.  It was revised and republished on November 26, 2012. Another update followed on September 15, 2019.

Getting to Ellie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

21 Comments

I just adopted a 3 yr old and her birth name is Melony. We didn’t want to change it on her at 2.5 yrs old bc she already new her first name. It’s not a name we care for too much. We want to start calling her Ellie for a nickname. Her name has the EL in it and it’s supposely a nickname for Melody and the names are so close. Could it go? So far we have Mel, Ellie, Elle, Mellie and that’s about it. Mel is def not a choice for us. Ellie is our first choice. Feed back plz and thank you!!!

I think Ellie could work, though Mellie is more intuitive. Does she recognize her written name? Just a thought, but would changing the spelling to Melanie make it more appealing? (Of course, I’m assuming that Melony is pronounced the same as Melanie.)

Love Elsinore! I might jot that down, hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare and I do not want to name my daughter Ophelia, as pretty as it is.

Twelve years ago I was adopting a new puppy, a half German Shepherd, half black lab and I couldn’t think of a good name for her until my sister recommended the sweet little “Ellie”. I loved it right away. She was our Ellie Belly. Sadly, she died this fall of old age, but I can’t hear the name Ellie without thinking of my baby girl. Coincidentally, one of my bank customers comes through the drive thru with her Black Lab puppy, also named Ellie. I guess it’s a dog thing! However, I would totally use Ellie for a daughter, short for either Elodie or Electra. It’s short and cute and very lovable!!

I admire Elspeth and Elowen. I have a huge weakness for -th and -wen as suffixes, they have a tailored feel. Too bad I am the least Scottish/Welsh thing imaginable, huh? Maybe a touch on ye olde husbande’s side but even so.

I do like Eliana, but I love the (left off probably for being too close to Elinor-family but I think of it as seperate) Hebrew Eliora more.

It’s the The Ending Gets to Ellie category I really adore. And I could have one AND an Elizabeth, right? I love almost all of these. Mirabel would beat Mariel is all.

Elizabeth is a funny case – I realized I like Ellie but when given the choice between it and Libby/Betty/Lilibet/Lilibeth it doesn’t even get a look in. Strangely, I like Ellie well enough as a nickname for many of these other names, but it just feels like a waste of Elizabeth.

While I adore Elspeth, I wouldn’t use Ellie, rather Elsie is what appeals to me. Josie has a little girlfriend, she’s almost 4 and her full name is Elizabeth but she goes by Ellie far more often (She’s big sister to Sophia Cecylia aka Fia)!

I like Ellie but I like Elsie & Elsa far more.

Oh I just love the name Elise! It’s beautiful. If I had a daughter, that’s what I would name her. Pretty, simple, classy, unique. It’s lovely.

Tanya, you’re absolutely right! There’s a host of -el/-elle ending names to consider if you love the nickname Ellie. And Ellie Kate is a charming pet form of the graceful Isabel Kathryn.

BTW, I’m partial to the -el ending you’ve used. With the exception of Giselle and Gabrielle, most of those names always look more sophisticated to my eye when they omit the extra “le” from the ending. And it certainly doesn’t prevent parents from using the lovely nickname Ellie.

My fave -el ending name is Mariel. Unfortunately, my husband’s last name also ends with an -el, so we’ll never use it. Maybe for one of my goldfish …

My daughter’s nickname is Ellie, but her given name is none of the ones you’ve listed! 🙂 Her name is Isabel Kathryn. She goes by Isabel most places (school, church, etc.), but at home and within our family, she is Ellie or Ellie Kate.

When she was an infant she was all belly. She had skinny arms and legs and a big belly. My husband started calling her “Isabelly” which was soon shortened to “Belly.” After being called Needle Butt for most of my life, I refused to have my firstborn nicknamed after a body part. 🙂 We shortened it again to Ellie, and I love it.

The nickname could be used for any name ending in -el or -elle … Isabel, Anabelle, Giselle … Just like Etta is a great nickname for anything ending in -ette … Cosette, Annette, etc.

Thanks for the plug, by the way. I have much more to write to you, and not enough time to think on it yet!

I do think that Ellis wears well on a son – just like Hollis and Miles and Giles and lots of ends-in-s names.

And while I’d never given much thought to Eloise until today, I think it is quickly climbing up the ranks of my favorite names.

Oh i love most of those names!!
Whilst i am not partial to “Ellie” as a nickname i love most of these names independently.
My faves are: Eliza, Eloise, Elodie and Elsa.
I also love Ellis – but for a boy.

Elsa from Elspeth! That’s a lovely idea.

And I know what you mean about the question of matching. If none of your ancestors are Dutch, is it silly to call your daughter Saskia?

And what if it does reflect your heritage, but not the name you wear today? I know a woman of Irish descent who chose lovely Gaelic names for her children, which makes all the sense in the world – save that her husband’s surname is quite German.

It’s one of those case-by-case situations. But as far as Elodie goes, I’m with you – it’s so fantastically French that it almost requires a touch of Gallic history to justify the choice.

I hear what your saying about Ellie feeling too nicknamey and like the idea of giving a child a longer name and then reverting to a nickname, be it Ellie or whatever…

I think I might like Ellie, Eleanor and Ella if they weren’t so insanely popular in the UK. Of your alternative suggestions, I rather like Elodie but it is just too French – not that being French in itself is bad, on the contrary, it’s just that I am not French and would feel like an imposter giving a quintessentially French name to my child. Does that make sense?

I also love Elspeth and have done for years. It is an incredibly strong Scottish alternative to Elizabeth but somehow sticks on my throat a bit when I say it – I adore Elsa though! Elsaas a ncikname for Espeth – gorgeous!