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Helena Name Meaning (Origin, Popularity & Nicknames)

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

Helena Overview

  • Meaning: Helena means “torch” and “shining light” in Greek. It’s connected to Helen, a mythical figure and patron deity of sailors.
  • Gender: Helena is traditionally a girl’s name.
  • Origin: Helena has Greek roots, as a variation of Helen. It’s also a variation of Helene, a French title.
  • Pronunciation: Helena is pronounced “hel-AYN-uh,” “HELL-ih-nuh,” and “huh-LEE-nuh” worldwide.
  • Popularity: In 1918, Helena peaked as the #285th most popular American girl name. Today, you’ll find Helena sprinkled throughout America and Europe, its continent of origin.
  • Nicknames: El, Ella, Ellen, Elly, Ena, Hel, Helly, Lena.
  • Variations: Elena, Helayna, Heleena, Heleighna, Ileana, Ilena, Yleana, Ylena.
  • Namesakes: Helena Bonham Carter, British actress. Helena Mattsson, Swedish actress.

What Does Helena Mean?

Helena means “torch” and “shining light” in Greek. It’s a cute variation of Helene and Helen, which has ties to Greek mythology. Parents who love studious titles will adore Helena, as it’s featured in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Helena is a fabulous name for the girl you hope will shine brightly.

What Is the Origin of the Name Helena?

Helena has Greek roots and is connected to Swelena, meaning “to warm,” referring to a sun god. It’s also connected to the French variation Helene. Helena is commonly associated with Saint Helena, who was thought to have found a piece of Christ’s cross. Its saintly connections made it a popular option for Christians in Europe and America.

How Popular Is the Name Helena?

Helena is most prevalent in Europe, where it has many regal namesakes. Among the most popular is Helena, Constantine’s mother, who later became a saint. Helena landed on American name charts in 1900, though etymologists think it was popular before then. In 1918, Helena peaked as the #285th most popular American girl’s name. To this day, Helena is consistently among the top 500 names for girls.

How Do I Pronounce Helena?

Helena is pronounced “hel-AYN-uh,” “HELL-ih-nuh,” and “huh-LEE-nuh” worldwide.

Is Helena a Boy or Girl Name?

Helena is traditionally a girl’s name.

Variations of Helena

Try one of these sophisticated variations of Helena:

  • Elena
  • Helayna
  • Helena
  • Heleighna
  • Ileana
  • Ilena
  • Yleana
  • Ylena

Nicknames for Helena

Check out these cute Helena nicknames:

Similar Names to Helena

These names are similar to Helena in origin, meaning, and pronunciation:

Middle Names for Helena

Check out these cute middle names for Helena:

Sibling Names for Helena

These sibling names for Helena are too cute for words:

Famous People Named Helena

Learn more about famous people named Helena:

  • Helena Bonham Carter: British actress.
  • Helena Christiansen: Danish model.
  • Helena Devereux: American educator.
  • Helena Dow: American Olympic fencer.
  • Helena Majdaniec: Polish singer.
  • Helena Mattsson: Swedish actress.
  • Saint Helena: Mother of Constantine.

Helena in Popular Culture

Keep an eye out for these references to Helena in pop culture:

  • Helena: Book by Evelyn Waugh.
  • Helena: Song by The Misfits.
  • Helena: Song by My Chemical Romance.
  • Helena Harford: Character in the hit film “Eyes Wide Shut.”
  • Helena Henstridge: Featured on television’s “The Royals.”
  • Helena Peabody: Character in TV’s “The L Word.”
  • Helena Pierce: Mentioned in the Borderlands video game.
  • Helena Ravenclaw: Featured in the “Harry Potter” franchise.

Helena FAQs

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about Helena:

What Name Is Short for Helena?

Helena comes with a variety of nicknames, ranging from wacky to popular. You can call your girl Helen, Lena, or Ellie if you prefer traditional nicknames. Out-of-the-box monikers include El, Helly, Hel, and Ena. Some parents may call their daughters Ellen, Elena, or La-La. With various aesthetics, Helena will appeal to a wide range of people.

Is Helena a Religious Name?

In a traditional sense, Helena isn’t religious but has many devout namesakes. Among the most memorable is Helena, the patron saint of difficult marriages, divorcees, and archaeologists. Saint Helena is known for having visions that led her to what many believe was the original cross of Christ. Helena’s Feast Day is Aug. 18, making this a perfect option for Catholic families.

How Rare Is Helena?

Helena is far from rare. It first appeared in Europe and then quickly migrated to the United States. Helena has been popular for centuries, but its earliest record in America is from 1900. Helena fell off American name charts in 1992, but other than that, it remained a popular option for little girls.

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About the Author

Cate Hoepner

Cate Hoepner is a professional blogger and freelance writer of seven years. Before transitioning into a writing role, she worked in finance and customer service. Cate enjoys DIY projects, old movies, music, and a good cup of coffee. In her free time, you'll find her homeschooling her three kids, crafting her dream homestead, and reading anything she can get her hands on.