Bell Family History
Bell Name 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).
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press