Eleanor, a stately name that has been in and out of fashion since Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine brought it from France to England in the twelfth century, is hot again. Eleanor's straightforward feminine image combined with its royal medieval origins is striking just the right note for parents in search of a girl's name that combines substance and style.
While some think Eleanor is a variation of Helen via Ellen, it actually derives from the Provencal for "other Aenor," used to distinguish the original Eleanor, who was named after her mother Aenor.
Big plus: Eleanor is a serious name, with two nicknames—Ellie and Nell/Nellie—that are seriously endearing. Diane Lane has an Eleanor, and Katie Couric has an Elinor, using the variant spelling. (Jane Austen used both versions—Eleanor in Northanger Abbey and Elinor in Sense and Sensibility.)
A notable namesake is First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Two other English queens bore the name: the wives of Henry III and Edward I.
Eleanora and Leonora are pretty, more feminine variations. Ellen and Lenore are shorter forms.
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