Helen (given name)

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Brosen icon constantine helena.jpg
Eastern Orthodox icon of Saint Constantine the Great and Saint Helena, his mother.
Pronunciation /hɛlən/
Gender Female
Name day 21 May (Orthodox, Anglican & Lutheran Churches); 19 May (Certain Lutheran Churches); 18 August (Roman Catholic Church)
Word/name Greek
Meaning 'light' or 'bright'
Region of origin Mediterranean Europe
Other names
Nickname(s) Len, Lena, Leny, Lenie, Lonnie, Nell, Nellie
Related names Elen, Elene, Ellen, Elena, Eleni, Helena, Helene, Helaine, Elaine
Popularity see popular names

Helen is a feminine given name derived from the Ancient Greek name Ἑλένη, Helenē (dialectal variant: Ἑλένα, Helena) whose etymology is unknown; a derivation of the latter from ἑλένη, a variant form of ἑλάνη, i.e. "torch", is considered "rather uncertain".[1][2] Another possible derivation is from Greek Σελήνη Selene, meaning 'moon'.[3][citation needed] Helen of Troy is a character in Greek mythology. The name was widely used by early Christians due to Saint Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine I, who according to legend found a piece of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified when she traveled to Jerusalem.[3] Helen enjoyed a massive burst of popularity in the United States during the first half of the 20th century, when it was one of the top ten names for baby girls, but became less common following World War 2.[4]

The name Eilidh (pronounced "ayley") is a Gaelic version of the name Helen.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Beekes, Robert (2010). "s.v. Ἑλένη". Etymological Dictionary of Greek. With the assistance of Lucien van Beek. Brill. ISBN 9789004174184. 
  2. ^ ἑλένη, ἑλάνη. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  3. ^ a b "Helen". Behind the Name. 
  4. ^ "Popularity of Name". Social Security Administration. Retrieved 2017-01-11.