Eleanor (usually pronounced /ˈɛlənɔːr/ in North America but /ˈɛlənə/ elsewhere, variants Elinor, Ellinor, Elenor, Eleanore, Eleanour, Eleonor(a) among others; short form Leonor and variants) is a feminine given name. It was the name of a number of women of the high nobility in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages, originally from a Provençal name Aliénor.

In modern times, the name was popularly given in the United States in the 1910s to 1920s, peaking at rank 25 in 1920. It declined below rank 600 by the 1970s, but has again risen above rank 150 in the early 2010s.

Common hypocorisms include Ella, Ellie, Elly (etc.), Leonor, Leonora, Leonore, Leanora, Lenora, (etc.) Nell, Nella, Nellie, Nelly, Nelda, Nelle, (etc.), Nora(h), Noreen, Norene, Nonie (etc.)


The name derives from the Provençal name Aliénor which became Eléanor or Eleonore in the northern Langue d'oïl and from there also to English.

The name probably originates as that of 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" in childhood and would have kept that name in adult life; the name Aénor itself appears to be a Latinization of a Germanic name of uncertain form.[2]

While Eleanor of Aquitaine, probably the most powerful woman in Europe during her time, was certainly the reason for the name's later popularity, 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,[3] 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, the wife (m. 935) of Aimery II viscount of Thouars and mother of Herbert I (b. 960).
  2. Alienor, the grandmother of Aénor of Châtellerault, and thus Eleanor of Aquitaine's own great-grandmother, born c. 1050 as a daughter of Aimery IV of Thouars. Her name is also recorded as Ainora, and may have been corrupted to Alienor in genealogies only after the 12th century.
  3. Eleanor of Normandy (11th century), aunt of William the Conqueror, was so named by the 17th-century genealogist Pierre de Guibours, but de Guibours' sources for this remain unknown and the application of this name may be a mistake of his.[5]
  4. Eleanor of Champagne (1102–1147), recorded as the name of the first wife of Ralph I, Count of Vermandois who was displaced by Eleanor of Aquitaine's sister Petronilla of Aquitaine, leading to a two years' war (1142–44) in Champagne.

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Fictional characters