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Gender: Female Meaning of Helen: "bright, shining light" Origin of Helen: Greek Helen's Popularity in 2017: #418

The name Helen is a girl's name of Greek origin meaning "bright, shining light". Helen is ranked #418 on our popularity charts and is often added to lists like Old Lady Names and discussed in our forums with posts like "Generation CAF with occupations".

From the experts:

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 '50s. 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 much of 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.

Find other names based on Helen using our baby name generator.

Famous People Named Helen

Helen Adams Keller, American deaf and blind author and political activist
Helen Hayes, American actress
Helen Elizabeth Hunt, American actress
Helen Clare Kane, American singer who inspired cartoon character Betty Boop
Helen Elizabeth Clark, 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand
Helen, Princess of Serbia; daughter of Peter I of Yugoslavia
Helen Augusta Blanchard, American inventor
Helen Lydia Mirren, English actress
Helen Elizabeth McCrory, English actress
(Helen) Beatrix Potter, English children's author and illustrator
Helen Joyce Gabriel Flanagan, English actress and model
Helen Jane Long, English musician
Helen Jairag Richardson, Anglo-Burmese Indian actress and dancer
Helen Rachel Slater, American actress and singer-songwriter
Helen Castillo, American Fashion Designer
Helen Morgan, American singer and actress
Helen Kalin Klanderud, American politician
Helen "Nellie" Costigan Cohan, American actress
Helen George, British actress
Helen Hinkle, member of the Beat Generation circle and inspiration for Galatea Dunkel in Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"
Helen Joanna Santos (b. 1944), daughter of actors Dick Haymes & Joanne Dru
Helen Grace De Niro (b. 2011), daughter of actor Robert De Niro

Pop Culture References for the name Helen

Helen of Troy, Greek mythological figure said to be the most beautiful woman in the world.
Helen Stanley, main character in "Helen" by Maria Edgeworth
Helen Leonard, main character in 2009 film "Helen"
Helen Seinfeld, Jerry's mom on TV's "Seinfeld"
Helen Ferguson, paranoid nurse in Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms"
Helen Spitz, character on animated series "Braceface"
Helen Memel, main character in Charlotte Roche's "Wetlands" and the film o the same name
Dr. Helen Magnus, character on TV's "Sanctuary"
Helen Parr aka Elastigirl, character in Pixar's "The Incredibles"
Helen Morgendorffer, character in animated series "Daria"
Helen Harris, character in film "Bridesmaids"
Helen Grady, character in the video game "Silent Hill: Origins"
Helen Hawkins, character on TV's "Siren"
Helen Quilley, main character in film "Sliding Doors"
Helen McIntire, American Girl doll character
"Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet," comic strip by Peter Zale
Helen Longshanks, character in the Inheritance Cycle
Helen Shivers, character in film "I Know What You Did Last Summer"
Margot Helen Tenenbaum, character in film "The Royal Tenenbaums"
Helen, first queen of Narnia in 'The Magician's Nephew' by C.S. Lewis
Helen Graham, main character in 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' by Anne Brontë
Mount St. Helens, volcano in Washington State, USA
Helen Burns, character in "Jane Eyre"
Helen Bryce, character on "Smallville"
Helen Thermopolis, character in "The Princess Diaries" series
Helen Blackthorn, character from Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments and Dark Artifices" series
Helen Ophelia DuBois, character on TV's "Drake and Josh"
Helen, character on Showtime's "Masters of Sex," played by Sarah Silverman
Helen Lovejoy, a character from "The Simpsons"
Helen Schlegel, character in E.M. Forster's novel "Howards End"
Helen, Queen of Eddis in Megan Whalen Turner's "Queen's Thief" series