Nelson is a surname, also used as a given name. It is derived from a patronymic name created from the given name Nell or the Irish Niall. The name is also listed as a baptismal name "the son of Eleanor".
Nelson is also an anglicized version of the Scandinavian names Nilsen, Nielsen, and Nilsson. In the United States in 1990, it was ranked as the 39th-most common surname.