Helen Name Meaning & Origin


Pronunciation: HEH-lehn (key)

Origin of the name Helen:

Cognate of the Greek Helenē, which is derived from the root ēlē (light, torch, bright). The name is borne in Greek legend by the beautiful wife of the king of Sparta. Her abduction by the Trojan prince Paris sparked off the Trojan War.

From A World of Baby Names by Teresa Norman.

Related Names:

Elena, Ella, Ellen, Ellie, Helena, Helene, Lena

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US Popularity of Helen Over Time

Sister & Brother Names

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Comments and insights on the name Helen

AS a kid, I always hated the name Helen. I wanted a nickname, and this name didn't have one. And I didn't like the "H" sound. I wanted to be named something cute like Bonnie or Cindy or Holly, Now, I thank heavens I wasn't named one of those.

Then, I became aware that Helen was an "old lady's name." Whenever someone knew someone named Helen, it was always their grandmother.

However, now I like the name. I think it's classical and elegant. I've occasionally met some young Helens (named after their grandmothers, of course) and I think they're lucky to have an uncommon name that's soft and feminine. My daughter and niece know so many Kate's and Jen's, they have to number them or use last names to keep them straight.

Even though Helen is an old-fashioned name, we can bring youthfulness and modernity to it. Some older names are ugly and unimaginative, but I don't think Helen is one of those. Now I like my name. I feel bad for kids who get one of the current trendy names.

I was originally named Mercedes (which I love) but it was changed to Helen when my grandfather became upset because he thought it was too German (Mercedes Benz cars) even though it's a Spanish name. I was born in the early 60s and the war was still quite fresh for older generations at that time so I was renamed Helen. Until recently, I hated the name but now I like it and I'm glad that I'm called Helen and not some other popular names from my age group. I think it's a very pretty and feminine name. I agree with a previous post that it's difficult to shorten but my friends call me "H" which I don't mind and others call me "Hel" which I do mind. I don't mind "Nel" which sounds kind of pop but when I was younger it was definitely old-fashioned. Times change and so do names.

....and when I moaned to my mum about being called Helen she would say I was named after Helen of Troy - the most beautiful woman in the world - it did make a difference:)!

I LOVE this name! Although to some it is an "old lady's name", to me it is very beautiful.

CLASSIC. My daughter is Named Helen Elizabeth after my Great-Grandmother born in 1920’s. It is an oldie, but a goodie! My friend makes use of how names could be teased so she came up with Hel-en-a-hand-basket. Much more than simple, it is Classic. A strong name for a Woman.

Personal experiences with the name Helen

I was named after my grandmother and I always hated the name. It was an old lady's name and I always begged for an nickname. Now that I'm older when I meet a young Helen I feel sorry for her. The name is frequently misspelled with two Ls.

I have mixed feelings about being named Helen. It is easy to pronounce and usually there is no trouble for people to spell it. Growing up, however, I was teased by other kids who said my name was a “bad word” and would spell it with two Ls. Also, it doesn't necessarily make you feel special when you visit nursing homes or grave yards and everyone there is named Helen.

Helen the hellion

As a Helen, I agree with all of the above. I didn't like it that it couldn't be shortened, which is actually why my mother had chosen it!

I have to disagree with the two posters above! I love being named Helen. It's classic and beautiful, yet unusual. My great-grandmother was named Helen and I love that connection to the past. According to my mother, "Everyone thinks I named you after my grandmother but actually I named you after Helen of Troy because you were such a beautiful baby." (Thanks, Mom!)

I am 14 years old and one of my aunts who just passed away this year was named Helen. She was a wonderful woman, someone I aspire to be. Before she passed away I always wanted to name me first daughter Giana or Emma-Lynn, but now in memory of her my first daughter will be Helen Marie just like her.

Getting my named misspelled with two 'L's instead of one is no new story though it still annoys me. I'm pretty sure that no one in my family was named Helen before me so I'm the first! My Mom apparently wanted a name that both sounded and was spelt the same in German and English. I like the name because it is pretty and people constantly tell me so too. But as others have said Helen is also an old fashioned name and that is sometimes kinda weird to only personally know people who are 40 years older than me have the same name. But on one occasion I did meet another Helen about the same age as me! We both enjoyed the experience!

When I was young, I hated my name because it was an "old ladies" name. I was named after my great-aunt Helen. I used to say that when I died, there would be no more Helen's because I was the youngest one. Now that I'm 50+, I like my name. It fits me better. If you notice, in movies there is always someone's mother or wife named Helen - I think it's funny that the name is associated as a traditional name.

My middle name is Helen after my late great-grandmother. I loved her very much and she was a wonderful person and I am proud to be named after her. My best friend's older sister is named Helen, too, so the main reason that I love the name is because everyone I know who has that name I love dearly. I've only ever had one person say they don't like my middle name because it sounds like "hell", but I don't really care. I think it's beautiful :)

My big sister's name is Helen and I've always thought it sounded a bit old fashioned. My mum named all of her children and all of them are a little plain. I used to wonder how on earth you'd shorten her name without referring to Hell until she started to be called "Hels" by her friends. Although because of our English accents, it sounds more like "Hehws" which is kinda funny.

I know an old lady called Helen and she has a sister called Mildred - just like Helen Keller did!

Nicknames for Helen

Nell, Nellie, Elle, Ellie, Ella, Lena, Leni, Hel

Meanings and history of the name Helen

Helen of Troy was the daughter of Zeus and Leda who was abducted by Paris, resulting in the Trojan War.

Helen means "shining light"

Famous real-life people named Helen

Helen Clark, New Zealand Prime Minister.
Helen Frankenthaler, American abstraction artist.
Helen Herron Taft, First Lady and wife of William Howard Taft.
Helen Garner, award-winning Australian novelist and screenwriter.
Helen Hayes, American actress.
Helen Hunt, American actress.
Helen Keller, American deaf-blind author, activist and lecturer.
Dame Helen Mirren, English award winning actress.
Helen Fielding, English author.
Helen Slater, actress
Helen Steiner-Rice, poet
Helen Thomas, political journalist
Helen Grace De Niro (b. 2011), daughter of American philanthropist, socialite, actress, and singer Grace Hightower and Italian-American actor, producer, and director Robert De Niro

Helen in song, story & screen

"Raising Helen", 2004 film starring Kate Hudson in the title role.
Helen, character in the novel "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte.
"To Helen", titles of two poems by Edgar Allen Poe.
Helen of Troy.
Helen Parr, character in the Disney/Pixar film "The Incredibles"
According to Margo Tenenbaum in the movie the Royal Tenenbaums, Helen in her middle name.
"Hey Hey Helen", song by the Swedish pop group Abba.
Helen Lovejoy, wife of Reverend Lovejoy on The Simpsons.

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