The baby name Wells blends surname style with ties to the natural world and a virtue vibe, too.

Thanks to Michelle for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


A well is a spring of water, either dug expressly for that purpose or discovered and then used as such. It comes from an Old English word.

If your ancestor happened to live near such a spring, you might have ended up with the surname Wells. The French Dupuis means the same thing, and Wells was sometimes adopted as a translation of that surname, too.

In England, there’s a famous city in Somerset and another in Norfolk, both named Wells; but they’re not the only ones. 

It’s a verb as well as a noun. To “well up” is to “bubble up” or boil, from the image of rolling, rising water.

And while water wells are the most common type over the ages, plenty of things might be drawn from a well: salt, oil, or even wishes.

While Wells is almost always a topographic name, related to a physical feature, or habitational name, derived from a place, it’s worth noting that more than one occupation might have led to the surname Wells – or Weller, or even Wellman.

Also noteworthy: plenty of wells are considered sacred, or associated with saints or local legends.

Archeologists trace them back many millennia BC, throughout the ancient world, so no surprise that stories abound.


There’s a double-meaning to this word. Besides the connection to water, if you’re well, you’re doing fine. 

It appears throughout Indo-European languages. The German affirmative jawohl is a cousin. 

The meaning shifts over the centuries and across cultures, but it implies good fortune and good health.

Today the concepts have almost merged into one. It’s a positive, life-giving image, a mix of the traditional and the fantastic.


The surname can be found in use across the centuries. In 1470, nobleman Richard de Welles led an uprising against King Edward IV and ultimately lost his life. He’s not the first – or the last – Wells or Welles in the history books.

One of the most notable bearers of the name was known by his initials: H.G., for Herbert George.

The English author penned some of the most unforgettable works of science fiction. He’s considered a father of the genre. From 1895’s The Time Machine to 1898’s The War of the Worlds, his works live on well over a century after their publication.

It lends the name a subtle literary vibe.

One more famous figure: celebrated sportswriter Wells Twombly, born in 1935. One famous moment: in 1976, he broke the story of a Soviet athlete cheating during the Olympics.


But there’s another aspect to this name, courtesy of the California Gold Rush.

Back around 1850, New Yorker William G. Fargo teamed up with Henry Wells of Vermont to launch an express service to California. They provided banking services, too. A panic hit in 1855, but their company survived – and prospered. Today it’s a widely-known bank, but still uses the traditional mail wagon as part of its logo.

Scandal has hit the institution in recent years, but somehow that doesn’t seem to tarnish the name. And banker names – think Chase – tend to feel polished and preppy.

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Like nearly any surname, Wells was used in small numbers for as long as we’ve kept records in the US. Wells families passed down the surname to honor various Wells ancestors, and so it can be found in sparing use across the years.

But the name’s moment has really been the twenty-first century.

Pregnancy guru Rosie Pope gave the name to a son in 2011. In the Pope family, it’s short for Wellington. His birth was part of her Bravo television series, Pregnant in Heels.

While the baby name Wells was used in small numbers over the years, the reality show baby clearly played a part in the name’s story. Her son was born in 2011, and the episode aired in 2012. 

In 2010, the name was give to just 32 baby boys. By 2012, that number was 51.

The name doubled in use, then double again.

By 2017, the baby name Wells debuted in the US Top 1000 at #916.

As of 2022, it stood at an all-time high of #466 in the US.


Wells picks up on two related trends.

First, surname names starting with W have a had a moment. Wesley, Weston, Walker, and Waylon all rank in the US Top 100 as of 2022. Wilder has been a white hot favorite in recent years. Wells fits right in.

But it’s not just about the first letter. It’s also about boy names ending with S. Look at Brooks and Hayes, Atlas and Miles.


A handful of small screen uses have boosted the baby name Wells even farther.

Beginning in 2014, The Flash debuted on the CW, with Tom Cavanaugh as Dr. Harrison Wells, the brilliant scientist responsible for Central City’s particle accelerator – which transforms Barry Allen into a superhero.

That same year, the name appeared on a second CW series – The 100. In this case, it was a first name – Wells Jaha, son of a major character, Chancellor Jaha.

Doubtless these uses – small though they may be – helped parents warm to the idea of adding Wells to their possible baby names lists.


The baby name Wells has it all. It combines a rich history with a strongly positive image and meaning. It mixes surname style with a nature name image and a virtuous one, too. It’s the perfect name for parents seeking a stylish sound mixed with deep roots.

And even as Wells climbs the popularity charts, it remains relatively uncommon – at least compared to Brooks or Weston or Wesley. 

If this name is on your family tree, it’s a great find. And even if you’re choosing it for another reason, the baby name Wells is a twenty-first century favorite that promises to endure.

What do you think of the baby name Wells? Would you consider it for a son?

Originally published on June 13, 2018, this post was revised on June 30, 2020 and again on April 22, 2024.


meaningful + stylish

Wells blends current surname style with two appealing images: the natural world, plus an almost virtue vibe of well-being.


#466 as of 2022


Rising in use


from an Old English word referring to a spring of water

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. This is a great option for a family whose name ends in ‘n’ or ‘er’… a lot of popular names don’t work in those circumstances (ex. Kaiden, Grayson, Logan, Hunter, Cooper, Walker, etc.)
    But Wells! One syllable, on trend, but not unfamiliar…nice.
    Excellent post, Abby.