The first known bearer was Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–1204), Provençal Aliénor, possibly from Germanic or Latin ali(a) "other" and her mother's name Aenor, its meaning thereby said to be 'the other Aenor'. An Arabic origin from نُور (nūr, “light”) has also been suggested. Eleanor has often been erroneously interpreted as a variant of Helen.
- A female given name.
- 1591, William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals):: Act I, Scene II:
- Nay, Eleanor, then must I chide outright: / Presumptuous dame! ill-nurtured Eleanor! / Art thou not second woman in the realm, / And the protector's wife, belov'd of him?
- 1866 William 'Wilkie' Collins: Armadale. Kissinger Publishing 2004. →ISBN page 288:
- When you hear a young lady called Eleanor, you think of a tall, beautiful, interesting creature directly - the very opposite of me! With my personal appearance, Eleanor sounds ridiculous - and Neelie, as you yourself remarked, is just the thing. No! no! don't say any more - - -