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Gender: F Meaning of Helen: "bright, shining one" Origin of Helen: Greek Helen's Popularity in 2013: #409

Popularity: this week.

Helen is a name that has connoted beauty since ancient times (the mythological "face that launched a thousand ships," over whom the ten-year Trojan War was fought).

The name Helen has moved in and out of favor over the centuries, often alternating with Ellen. It was a Top 5 name for several decades of the early twentieth century, falling out of the Top 100 in the fifties. Now, after being unfashionable for decades, we see signs of a comeback for Helen --it's the kind of serious, unadorned classic many parents are returning to. If Helen is too hard-core an old lady name for you, you might consider one of its many variations that may be tastier for the modern palate: Helena, Eleanor, Elena, Ella, Nell or Leonora, to mention just a few.

In Greek myth, Helen is the daughter of Leda and Zeus, who came to her mother in the form of a swan.

Helen has legions of eminent namesakes, including author and activist Helen Keller, politician Helen Gahaghan Douglas, newspaper reporter Helen Thomas, Cosmo force Helen Gurley Brown, Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding, artist Helen Frankenthaler and actresses Hayes, Mirren and Hunt. Beatrix Potter's birth name was Helen.

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Famous People Named Helen

Helen Keller, deaf/blind American author and political activist
Helen Hayes, American actress
Helen Hunt, American actress
Helen Augusta Blanchard, American inventor
Helen Mirren, English actress
Helen Joanna Santos (1944), daughter of Dick Haymes & Joanne Dru
Helen McCrory, English actress
Helen Grace (b. 2011), daughter of Robert De Niro
Helen Flanagan, English actress and model
Helen Jane Long, English musician
Helen Castillo, Fashion Designer & Project Runway Star
Helen Kalin Klanderud, American politician

Pop Culture References for the Name Helen

Helen of Troy, a Greek mythological character - considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world.
Helen Seinfeld, Jerry's mom on U.S. show "Seinfeld"
Helen Spitz, character from "Braceface"
Helen, protagonist of book and movie "Wetlands"
Dr. Helen Magnus, from Syfy's "Sanctuary"
Mount St. Helen - volcano that erupted in the '80s
Helen Parr (nee Truax), AKA Elastigirl, character from Disney/Pixar's "The Incredibles"
Helen Morgendorffer, character from animated series "Daria"
Helen Harris, character in hit film "Bridesmaids"
Helen Grady, character in the video game "Silent Hill: Origins"
Helen Quilley, main character from movie "Sliding Doors"
Helen McIntire, American Girl character
Helen Shivers, from movie "I Know What You Did Last Summer"
Middle name of Margot Tenenbaum
Queen Helen, first queen of Narnia in 'The Magician's Nephew' by C.S. Lewis