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Meaning and Origin of: Bell

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First name origins & meanings:

  • Spanish : Beautiful
  • Old French : Handsome friend

Last name origin & meaning:

  • Scottish and northern English : from Middle English belle ‘bell’, in various applications; most probably a metonymic occupational name for a bell ringer or bell maker, or a topographic name for someone living ‘at the bell’ (as attested by 14th-century forms such as John atte Belle). This indicates either residence by an actual bell (e.g. a town’s bell in a bell tower, centrally placed to summon meetings, sound the alarm, etc.) or ‘at the sign of the bell’, i.e. a house or inn sign (although surnames derived from house and inn signs are rare in Scots and English).
  • Scottish and northern English : from the medieval personal name Bel. As a man’s name this is from Old French beu, bel ‘handsome’, which was also used as a nickname. As a female name it represents a short form of Isobel, a form of Elizabeth.
  • Scottish : Americanized form of Gaelic Mac Giolla Mhaoil ‘son of the servant of the devotee’ (see Mullen 1).
  • Jewish (Ashkenazic) : Americanized form of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames.
  • Norwegian : habitational name from a farmstead in western Norway named Bell, the origin of which is unexplained.
  • Scandinavian : of English or German origin; in German as a habitational name for someone from Bell in Rhineland, Germany, or possibly from Belle in Westphalia.
  • Americanized spelling of German Böhl or Böll (see Boehle, Boll).

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