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Scripts‘Ελενη Ancient Greek
PronouncedPron.HEL-ən English

Meaning & History

English form of the Greek ‘Ελενη (Helene), probably from Greek ‘ελενη (helene) "torch" or "corposant", or possibly related to σεληνη (selene) "moon". In Greek mythology Helen was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, whose kidnapping by Paris was the cause of the Trojan War. The name was also borne by the 4th-century Saint Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, who supposedly found the True Cross during a trip to Jerusalem.

The name was originally used among early Christians in honour of the saint, as opposed to the classical character. In England it was commonly spelled Ellen during the Middle Ages, and the spelling Helen was not regularly used until after the Renaissance. A famous bearer was Helen Keller (1880-1968), an American author and lecturer who was both blind and deaf.
VariantsEllen, Helena, Hellen English Elin, Elina, Helena, Helene Swedish Elin, Helena, Helene Norwegian Elin, Helena, Helene Danish Helena, Helene Greek Mythology
DiminutivesElla, Elle, Ellie, Elly, Lena, Nell, Nelle, Nellie, Nelly English
Other Languages & CulturesShelena African American Helena, Helene Ancient Greek Elaine Arthurian Romance Elena Bulgarian Helena, Jelena, Jela, Jelka Croatian Helena, Alena, Lenka Czech Heleen, Helena, Heleentje Dutch Helena, Jelena, Leena Estonian Eliina, Elina, Helena, Ella, Elli, Heleena, Heli, Leena Finnish Hélène French Elene Georgian Elena, Helena, Helene, Alena, Lena, Lene, Leni German Elena, Eleni, Elli, Lena Greek Heléna Hungarian Helena Icelandic Léan Irish Elena, Ileana Italian Elīna, Helēna, Jeļena, Jelena Latvian Elena, Jelena Lithuanian Elena Macedonian Helena, Lena Polish Helena, Lena Portuguese Elena, Ileana, Ilinca, Lenuța Romanian Elena, Yelena, Alyona, Lena Russian Elene Sardinian Jelena, Jela, Jelka Serbian Elena, Helena, Alena, Jela, Lenka Slovak Helena, Jelena, Alena, Alenka, Jelka Slovene Elena, Ileana Spanish Olena, Lesya Ukrainian Elen, Elin Welsh
User SubmissionHelén


Helen of TroyHelen of Troy


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Entry updated December 8, 2017   Contribute