From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Queen Eleanor of Provence
Pronunciation/ˈɛlənər, -nɔːr/
Region of originSouthern France
Other names
Variant form(s)Eleonore, Eleanora, Eleonora, Eléonore, Elanor, Elinor
(see Variants section)
Nickname(s)Nora, Ella, Ellie, Elle, El, Nell, Nellie, Nelly

Eleanor (/ˈɛlənər, -nɔːr/) is a feminine given name, originally from an Old French adaptation of the Old Provençal name Aliénor. It was the name of a number of women of royalty and nobility in western Europe during the High Middle Ages. The name was introduced to England by Eleanor of Aquitaine, who came to marry King Henry II. It was also borne by Eleanor of Provence, who became Queen consort of England as the wife of King Henry III, and Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I.

The name was popular in the United States in the 1910s and 1920s, peaking at rank 25 in 1920. It declined below 600 by the 1970s but has again risen in popularity. It ranked 32nd in the 2010s. It ranked 16th on the popularity chart for names given to newborn girls in the United States in 2022.[1] Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving first lady of the U.S., was probably the most famous bearer of the name in contemporary history. A common variant is Eleonora.

Common hypocorisms include Elle, Ella, Ellie, Elly, Leonor, Leonora, Leonore, Nella, Nellie, Nelly, and Nora.


The name derives from the Provençal name Aliénor, which became Eléonore in Langue d'oïl, i.e., French, and from there Eleanor in English.[2]

The origin of the name is somewhat unclear; one of the earliest bearers appears to have been Eleanor of Aquitaine (1120s–1204). She was the daughter of Aénor de Châtellerault, and it has been suggested that having been baptized Aenor after her mother, she was called alia Aenor, i.e. "the other Aenor" or Aliénor in childhood and would have kept that name in adult life. Some sources say that the name Aénor itself may be a Latinization of an unknown Germanic name.[3]

Eleanor of Aquitaine, the most powerful woman in 12th century Europe, was certainly the reason for the name's later popularity. However, the name's origin with her, and the explanation of alia Aenor is uncertain; there are records of possible bearers of the name Alienor earlier in the 12th, or even in the 11th or 10th centuries,[4] but the records of these women post-date Eleanor of Aquitaine, at a time when Alienor had come to be seen as an equivalent variant of the name Aenor (so that presumably, these women during their own lifetime used the given name Aenor):

  1. Alienor, wife (b. 899) (married 935) of Aimery II, Viscount of Thouars, and mother of Herbert I (born 960).[5]
  2. Aleanor de Thouars (1050-1088/93), grandmother of Aénor of Châtellerault, and thus Eleanor of Aquitaine's great-grandmother. Born c. 1060 as a daughter of Aimery IV of Thouars and Aurengarde de Mauleon. Her name is also cited in some documents as Adenor, Aenors and Aleanor/Alienor, and may have been corrupted to Alienor in genealogies only after the 12th century.[citation needed]
  3. Eleanor of Normandy, aunt of William the Conqueror, was so named by the 17th-century genealogist Pierre de Guibours, but de Guibours' sources for this remain unknown.[a]
  4. Eleanor of Champagne (1102–1147), in 1125 became the first wife of Ralph I, Count of Vermandois, who was displaced by Eleanor of Aquitaine's sister Petronilla of Aquitaine, leading to war (1142–44) in Champagne.


Notable people[edit]



Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The first known source giving her name as Eleanor is apparently Pierre de Guibours (died 1694). De Guibours claims to base this on the authority of William of Jumièges, but the information is not actually found there, suggesting that de Guibours drew from another source which has not yet been identified. [6]


  1. ^ behindthename.com (US statistics)
  2. ^ Yonge, C.M. (1863). History of Christian Names. Parker, Son, and Bourn.
  3. ^ behindthename.com
  4. ^ The suggestion of alia Aenor was considered "ridiculous" by Gilles Ménage in his Histoire De Sable (1683, p. 70).
  5. ^ Martin, T. (2012). Reassessing the Roles of Women as 'Makers' of Medieval Art and Architecture (2 Vol. Set). European History and Culture E-Books Online, Collection 2012, ISBN 9789004223257. Brill. p. 860. ISBN 978-90-04-18555-5.
  6. ^ See George Beech in Brown (ed.) Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1986 (1989), p. 8 fn 29.
  7. ^ Hanks, Patrick; Coates, Richard; McClure, Peter (17 November 2016). The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland. Oxford University Press. p. 828. ISBN 978-0-19-252747-9. Retrieved 5 November 2022.