Last name origins & meanings:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Scottish: Americanized form of Gaelic Mac Giolla Mhaoil ‘son of the servant of the devotee’ (see Mullen 1).
  4. Jewish (Ashkenazic): Americanized form of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames.
  5. Norwegian: habitational name from a farmstead in western Norway named Bell, the origin of which is unexplained.
  6. 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.
  7. Americanized spelling of German Böhl or Böll (see Boehle, Boll).

Famous people with this last name: Kristen Bell

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