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International Variations of Helen

International Variations of Helen
Helen is a girl's name with a long and legendary history. Meaning "the bright one" in Greek, she was the beautiful queen in Homer's Iliad. Other notable Helens include disabilities activist and author Helen Keller, painter Helen Frankenthaler, and actress Helen Mirren.

Along with Elena and Eliana, other international variations of Helen in the US Top 1000 include Elaina, Elianna, Elina, Helena, Eileen, Nora, Lena, and Ellen. Leni, Eilidh, Elin, and Helene are among the foreign variations that are common abroad but rare in the US.

Helen is experiencing record lows but remains a classic name. If you are looking to honor a special Helen in your life or want a name with a brilliant, time-honored history, explore our list of international variations of Helen.
  1. NoraHeart
    • Origin:

      Irish, diminutive of Honora, or Greek
    • Meaning:

      "light"
    • Description:

      Nora has two separate origin stories, as a derivative of both Honora and Eleanor. The Irish and Anglo-Norman version derives from Honora, based on the Latin word honor. The Hungarians spawned Nora as a short form of Eleonora, a variation of Eleanor.
  2. ElenaHeart
    • Origin:

      Spanish, Italian, German, Greek variation of Helen
    • Meaning:

      "bright, shining light"
    • Description:

      Elena, a pan-European version of Helen, has roots in Spanish, Italian, Slavic, and Romanian, among others. Helen, the name from which it derives, came from the Greek word helene, meaning "torch." Alternate spellings include Elaina, Ellena, and Alena.
  3. EliHeart
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "ascended, uplifted, high"
    • Description:

      Eli derives from the Hebrew ’aly, meaning “high.” In the Old Testament, Eli was the high priest and last judge of Israel, who trained the prophet Samuel. While Eli is a full name on its own, it can be a shortened form of Elijah, Elias, Eliezer, or even Elliot. Eli is used as a feminine name—most often as a nickname for Elisabet or Elin—in some Scandinavian countries.
  4. HelenaHeart
    • Origin:

      Latinate form of Helen, Greek
    • Meaning:

      "torch; shining light"
    • Description:

      Helena is a more delicate and dainty version of Helen, a favorite of Shakespeare, who used it in both All's Well That Ends Well and A Midsummer's Night Dream. Historically, Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great (and, supposedly, the daughter of Old King Cole), who became a fourth century saint--Evelyn Waugh wrote his only historical novel, Helena, based on her story.
  5. LenaHeart
    • Origin:

      English, Scottish, Dutch, German, and Scandinavian, diminutive of various names ending in lena
    • Description:

      This pet form of Helena and other ena-ending names, long used as an independent name, is attracting notice again as an option both multicultural and simple. Lena was a Top 100 name from 1880 to 1920.
  6. ElianaHeart
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "my God has answered"
    • Description:

      The Hebrew variation of Eliana was taken from the elements el, meaning "God" and ana, meaning "answered." Eliana also has roots as a variation of the Late Latin name Aeliana, a feminization of the male given name Aelianus, itself derived from the Roman family name Aelius. Aelius is related to the Greek word helios, which refers to the Sun.
  7. EilidhHeart
    • Origin:

      Gaelic form of Eleanor
    • Description:

      Long popular in Scotland, this attractive name is strictly-speaking the Gaelic version of Eleanor, but is also often considered part of the Helen family of names. After the Normans introduced it into the British Isles, it was transformed into Aileen or Evelyn. It has rarely been heard in the US, but it is slowly starting to be used here too.
  8. EileenHeart
    • Origin:

      Scottish variation of Evelyn
    • Meaning:

      "desired; or water, island"
    • Description:

      Irish Aileen continues to be more popular than Scottish Eileen, though both names have seen an unexpected resurgence since 2012. Nicknames for Eileen include Isla, Lee and Lina. Eileen is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic Eibhlin or Aibhilin, which is technically a form of to Evelyn/Aveline, but is also sometimes considered part of the Helen family of names. It was quite popular in the early part of the twentieth century.
  9. LinaHeart
    • Origin:

      Arabic; Latin diminutive
    • Meaning:

      "tender"
    • Description:

      This pretty, succinct Arabic name is also commonly used as a nickname for names like Carolina.
  10. LeonoraHeart
    • Origin:

      Italian diminutive of Eleonora or Eleanor, meaning unknown
    • Description:

      Its mellifluous sound makes Leonora--which has a rich history and a tie to the popular Leo names-- a keen possibility for revival. Though it's been hiding below the Top 1000 since the 1940s, Leonora is being rediscovered by stylish parents in the US and Europe.
      Leonora has the distinction of being three major opera characters, including the heroines of Beethoven's Fidelio and Verdi's Il Trovatore. It was also the name of two characters played by Elizabeth Taylor--in Secret Ceremony and Reflections in a Golden Eye.
  11. EllenHeart
    • Origin:

      English variation of Helen
    • Meaning:

      "torch; shining light"
    • Description:

      An medieval English form of Helen, the sensitive but clear-eyed Ellen has swung in and out of style for centuries, often alternating with the parent name. Ellen was the more common in medieval England, until after the Renaissance, when Helen overtook her. In Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, set at the end of the nineteenth century, one character wonders why another has not changed her "ugly" given name to something prettier, like Elaine—a statement few would make today.
  12. AileenHeart
    • Origin:

      Irish variation of Helen
    • Meaning:

      "bright, shining light"
    • Description:

      Irish Aileen and Scottish Eileen may be pronounced the same way or Aileen can be pronounced with a long a at the beginning. While neither is particularly stylish, Aileen is slightly more popular and has reversed its downward slide to inch upward in the past few years, perhaps thanks to its stylish A beginning. Nicknames for Aileen include Isla, Ayla, Lee and Lena.
  13. ElioraHeart
    • Origin:

      Hebrew
    • Meaning:

      "the Lord is my light"
    • Description:

      Eliora is a melodic name ripe with vowel sounds.
  14. LeniHeart
    • Origin:

      German, diminutive of Lena; Spanish, diminutive of Elena
    • Description:

      A foreign nickname name that has never been widely used here -- possibly because of its similarity to the outdated male Lenny -- it was chosen for her daughter by high-profile German supermodel Heidi Klum.
  15. EleonoraHeart
    • Origin:

      Italian, German, Dutch, and Polish variation of Eleanor
    • Description:

      Makes a serious name frilly and feminine, which, depending on your viewpoint, might be a good or a bad thing. In this case, we vote good.
  16. ElinHeart
    • Origin:

      Swedish variation of Ellen
    • Description:

      The Elin variation makes an old favorite sleeker and more modern. Elin came to prominence via the ex-Mrs.Tiger Woods. It entered the US Top 1000 in 2010, though it's now in danger of dropping off.
  17. YelenaHeart
    • Origin:

      Russian variation of Helen
    • Meaning:

      "bright, shining one"
    • Description:

      One of many international versions of this classic.
  18. HeleneHeart
    • Origin:

      French variation of Helen
    • Meaning:

      "bright, shining one"
    • Description:

      Whether it's pronounced with an "een" or an "aine" or an "enn" sound at the end, Helene doesn't feel as current the more forthright Helen or the airier Helena. Helene reached a high of Number 228 in the US in 1916, when ene, ine and een names were all the fashion, and stayed in the Top 500 until 1962, making a final exit in 1970. It still ranks well in its native France, and even more in Norway (#70). Model Heidi Klum's daughter 'Leni' has Helene on her birth certificate.
  19. ElinaHeart
    • Origin:

      Spanish, Italian, German, Greek, and English variation of Helen
    • Meaning:

      "bright, shining light"
    • Description:

      Elina is one of the many variations of mother name Helen to make the Top 1000 list, this one just squeaking on. This is an appealing name but you may find it too similar to too many other names from Elena to Alina to Helena.
  20. ElainaHeart
    • Origin:

      Variation of Elaine or Elena
    • Meaning:

      "bright, shining light"
    • Description:

      Looks unusual; feels familiar.