What does Nelson mean?
Nelson \n(e)-lson, nel-son\ as a boys' name is pronounced NEL-sun. Variant of Neil. Historical: Admiral Lord Nelson, the English naval hero of Trafalgar. Actor Nelson Eddy; New York Governor and American Vice President Nelson Rockefeller; South African activist Nelson Mandela.
Nelson is a very prominent first name for men (#251 out of 1220, Top 21%) and also a very prominent surname for all people (#40 out of 150436, Top 1%). (2000 U.S. Census)
Shown below is the baby name popularity of Nelson for boys. Nelson reached its top position of #161 in the U.S. during 1890-1899, and is presently at #642. (Top 1000 Baby Names Statistics, 2014)
Shown below is an analysis of the usage of Nelson and associated names. Prominent variation forms of Nelson (#642 last year) are Neal, Neil (#655 last year), Nels, Niall, Niles, Nils and Oneal. Adoption of these boy names reached its most widespread during the years 1900-1909 (usage of 0.3634%) and has become much lower since (usage 0.0879%, down 75.8%), with the forms Neal, Neil, Nels and Nelson becoming less fashionable. (Top 1000 Baby Names Statistics, 2014)