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Elaine Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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Learn about the name Elaine, including its meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Elaine Overview

  • Meaning: Elaine means “sun ray,” “shining light,” and “bright” in French. It means “torch,” “sun,” and “light” in Greek, as well as “moon.”
  • Gender: Elaine is a girl’s name.
  • Origin: Elaine represents the French variation of Helen, from the Greek “hēlios,” meaning “sun.” It’s associated with the character Helen in the Greek epic story of Odysseus.
  • Pronunciation: Elaine is pronounced “ee-LAEYN” or “eh-LAEYN.”
  • Popularity: Elaine ranks in the top 500 U.S. girl’s names. It also peaked in the top 100 from the 1920s to 1950s and was in the top 300 in 1980.
  • Nicknames: El, Ella, Elle, Elli, Ellie, Elly, Elna, Lani, Lainey, Lainy, Laney, Layney, Leni.
  • Variations: Alena, Elaina, Elaine, Elaney, Elayne, Elen, Elena, Eleni, Ella, Ileana, Lena.
  • Namesakes: Elaine Stritch, American actress inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995. Baroness Elaine Murphy, English politician and member of the House of Lords.

What Does Elaine Mean?

Elaine means “sun ray,” “shining light,” and “bright” in French. When based on Helen, it means both “torch” and “light,” derived from the Greek “hēlios,” meaning “sun.” Elaine also means “moon” when related to Selene.

One less common meaning for Elaine is “oak tree.” When Elaine is linked to the Hebrew name Elana, its meaning changes completely. Overall, most people associate Elaine with Helen more than Elana.

What Is the Origin of the Name Elaine?

Elaine is the French form of Helen, derived from the Greek “hēlios,” meaning “sun.” Helene was well regarded as the Greek mythological Helen in Homer’s “Iliad.” Elaine itself can also relate to Selene, which means “moon.”

It became well known mainly due to the story of King Arthur. In these knight’s tales, Elaine is Lancelot’s love and the mother of Galahad. Elaine became more common in England after being used in Alfred Tennyson’s “Arthurian Idylls of the King” in 1859.

How Popular Is the Name Elaine?

As of late, Elaine ranked in the top 500 names for girls in the U.S. It ranked in the top 100 names for U.S. girls from the 1920s to the 1950s and peaked at 300th in 1980. Elaine varied in popularity (but generally declined) until 2020. Nowadays, Elaine is still popular among girls as an alternative to Helen or Helene.

How Do I Pronounce Elaine?

In English, Elaine is pronounced “ee-LAEYN” or “eh-LAEYNE.”

Is Elaine a Boy or Girl Name?

Elaine is a female given name.

Variations of Elaine

Decide on your favorite variation of Elaine from all around the world.

  • Alena (Belarusian)
  • Elaina (English)
  • Elaine (English)
  • Elaney (Irish)
  • Elayne (English)
  • Elen (Armenian)
  • Elena (Spanish)
  • Eleni (Greek)
  • Ella (Swedish)
  • Ileana (Greek)
  • Lena (Russian)

Nicknames for Elaine

Here are plenty of fun ideas for nicknames you can call your little Elaine.

  • El
  • Ella
  • Elle
  • Elli
  • Ellie
  • Elly
  • Elna
  • Lainey
  • Lainy
  • Laney
  • Lani
  • Layney
  • Leni

Similar Names to Elaine

Some of these names are similar to Elaine but remain uniquely their own.

Middle Names for Elaine

Find ideal middle names for your precious baby girl called Elaine.

Sibling Names for Elaine

One very lucky brother or sister to Elaine will love these adorable names.

Famous People Named Elaine

Some of the most famous Elaines in history are listed below.

  • Elaine Chan: Chinese two-time Olympic swimmer.
  • Elaine Chao: U.S. Secretary of Labor.
  • Elaine Chéris: American Olympic foil and épée fencer.
  • Elaine Fifield: Australian ballerina.
  • Elaine Luria: U.S. representative from Virginia.
  • Elaine May: American comedian.
  • Elaine McCoy: Canadian politician.
  • Elaine Mukheli: South African R&B singer and songwriter.
  • Elaine Murphy: Irish playwright.
  • Elaine Nolan: Irish cricketer.
  • Elaine Paige: English singer and actress.
  • Elaine Thompson-Herah: Jamaican sprinter.

Elaine in Popular Culture

Find out how Elaine has appeared in popular culture over the years.

  • Elaine: Character in “The Seven Deadly Sins” anime.
  • Elaine Benes: Character played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the sitcom “Seinfeld.”
  • Elaine Jarvis: Character in the British soap opera “EastEnders.”
  • Elaine Lefkowitz-Dallas: Character appearing on the 1970s TV sitcom “Soap.”
  • Elaine Miller: Character in the film “Almost Famous” (2000).
  • Elaine Nardo: Character played by Marilou Henner in the TV series “Taxi.”
  • Elaine Robinson: The full name of Mrs. Robinson in the 1967 film “The Graduate.”
  • Elaine of Astolat: Character in the Arthurian Legend who was Lancelot’s love.

Elaine FAQs

Check out some amazing facts that center around the lovely girl’s name, Elaine.

What Does the Name Elaine Mean in the Bible?

Elaine, of French and Scottish origin, didn’t technically appear in the Bible. However, it is sometimes linked to the Hebrew Eliana. Eliana originated from Eliyana, meaning “my God has answered me” or “mercy.” Eliana appears more in related Christian stories than in the actual text.

How Rare Is the Name Elaine?

In 2021, Elaine was used 645 times for U.S. girls. It was very popular in 1983, given to 797 U.S. girls per million people. It’s mostly ranked in the top 500 girls’ names today, which makes Elaine fairly popular again, or at least common.

Is Elaine a Mexican Name?

Elaine is not considered a Mexican name but is instead an Old French version of the Greek Helen. The closest thing to a Mexican variation of Elaine used in Spanish-speaking countries is likely Elena. Elena carries the same meaning of “sun ray,” “torch,” and “light,” but, like many Spanish girls’ names, ends in “-a.”

Is Elaine an Old-Fashioned Name?

Elaine falls under the umbrella of old-fashioned names for girls, mainly due to its incredible popularity from the 1920s to the 1950s in the U.S. Since it last peaked in the 1980s, Elaine hasn’t been as popular in the 21st century until recently.

Like many old-fashioned names, Elaine has become better known again, similar to other old-timey names, such as Mabel, Ruth, and Hazel.

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About the Author

Maryana Vestic

Maryana Vestic is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and food photographer with a background in entertainment Business Affairs. She studied film at NYU, Irish Theatre Studies at Trinity College Dublin, and has an MFA in Creative Writing Nonfiction from The New School. She loves cooking, baking, hiking, and horror films, as well as running a local baking business in Brooklyn with her boyfriend.