But after ranking in the US Top 50 since 2016, the name is no longer rare. Traditional names trend, and Eleanor is among the most stylish.
Maybe you’re considering Eleanor nicknames to stand out from the crowd. Or maybe you like the idea of shortening your child’s name, but aren’t sure where to start.
This list will get you started!
ELEANOR NICKNAMES YOU’LL LOVE
Maybe the most obvious and immediate choices, Ella and Ellie rank well as independent names, too. But if you’re looking for long and short options, Eleanor called Ella or Ellie works.
Many parents shorten Eleanor to Ellie. After all, it fits our pattern of taking the first syllable of a name and adding -ie. But Elle makes a spare and elegant alternative. Elle made waves in 2001, when Reese Witherspoon first played a smarter-than-she-looked Harvard law student by the name in Legally Blonde. It inspired a sequel, and even a Broadway musical. And it filtered into the mainstream as one of the most appealing Eleanor nicknames.
This one makes the list thanks to British Baby Names blogger Eleanor “Elea” Nickerson. It also fits into a special category, like Greta for Margaret and Eliza for Elizabeth. They’re short, feminine names that liven up a more serious, classic choice.
Elsa and Elsa traditionally come from Elizabeth – well, Elisabeth, where the ‘s’ occurs naturally. But it’s not a stretch to imagine an Eleanor adopting either of these nicknames. And yes, Elsa is awfully Frozen, but the character is consistently heroic.
You can almost see Lane in eLEANor. The sound misses a little, and yet, it could work. If Elaine feels too old school for you, Eleanor-called-Lane might appeal.
Is it Lea, like Leia from Star Wars? Or Lea, like Leah and Lea Michelle? I’m saying it like Star Wars, but I think both are defensible.
Leelee sounds cute – maybe too cute for a future CEO or aerospace engineer. But as a nickname for a child? It fits right in with lots of choices, including Elsie and Laney from this list.
Boyish nicknames for traditional girl names combine the best of both worlds. So if Charlotte can answer to Charlie, and Alexandra to Alex, maybe Eleanor shortens to Leo, too.
E! original series The Royals gave us a hard-partying Princess Eleanor a few years ago. She preferred the nickname Len.
It could be short for Selena or Magdalena or any -lena ending name. But it works for Eleanor nicely, too.
Supermodel Heidi Klum’s eldest is Leni – short for Helene. But this German nickname works nicely for Eleanor, too.
There’s no shortage of formal names to shorten to Nell. But I think Eleanor feels especially traditional. That’s because the N comes from an old affectionate phrase: mine Eleanor or mine Elle. Smoosh it together, say it fives times fast, and you’ll arrive at gentle, old-fashioned Nell.
Nola is short for New Orleans, Louisiana – NO LA. But it’s also a sparky choice that connects just enough to Eleanor to serve as a nickname.
We often think of Nora as a stand-alone name, and that’s been true for ages. But Nora probably started out as a short form of names like Eleanor.
Yes, there’s the seaweed connection. But Nori takes traditional Eleanor in an edgier direction.
NICKNAMES: THINGS TO CONSIDER
If you’re going to use a nickname/formal name combination for your child, here’s some advice:
- Announce the nickname at birth. Depending on the forum, you might use just the nickname: Nell Smith-Jones or her full name: Eleanor “Nell” Maven Smith-Jones. Or opt for the short and sweet nickname-only announcement with people in your extended circle, while revealing her full name to family and close friends.
- Use it exclusively and consistently when you talk about your child – at least for a little while. Few of us immediately remember the names of all the newborns in our circles. It’s tough enough to cement one new name in our memories, so pick the one that you plan to use daily.
- Recognize moments you’ll need to help others remember her nickname. When you enroll your very young child in programs, make sure the teachers or staff realize that she’s Nori or Elsa. That might mean adding a note to an online form, labeling it all over her personal possessions, or even just handwriting it on paperwork. The dentist doesn’t necessarily need to know, but your childcare provider? Yeah, that matters.
- Choose your battles. Your parents dislike the idea of calling their sweet granddaughter Leo? Let them call her Eleanor. But I’d probably discourage an alternative nickname when she’s little, unless we’re talking HoneyBun or SweetiePie.
- Be prepared to repeat, repeat, repeat. “Oh, actually we call her Laney,” rolls off the tongue – even the fourth time you remind your well-meaning neighbor. Names are important to everyone, but the number of names we can correctly remember varies. Reinforce rather than bristle, and chances are that your neighbor – and everyone else – will soon adopt your daughter’s nickname.
- After your success, be prepared for surprise when your nine-year-old Nola reveals her real name to friends. That might be my favorite part!
What are your favorite Eleanor nicknames? Have I forgotten any?
Originally published on November 18, 2016, this post was updated and re-posted on May 6, 2020.