Eleanor nicknamesLet’s look at Eleanor nicknames. Not just any nicknames, either – unexpected choices, the kind that might surprise.

Eleanor needs no shortening, of course. It’s three syllables, and rolls off the tongue. It makes for a smart name, one rich with history and style.

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!



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.


If you’re going to use a nickname/formal name combination for your child, here’s some advice:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Eleanor nicknames Eleanor nicknames

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I have a young Eleanor. She gets Eleanor, Leo lion-heart, Pickle, Sweet Pea, BG.

    She is now advocating for her new sister to be named Eleanor, so she seems to like it.

    I anticipate when she’s a teenager she’ll tell me she hates it and choose her own nickname.

    I chose it because (amongst other reasons)) I thought it has enough scope for her to make it work for her and her personality as she grows.

  2. Love reading your posts – how do you feel about Elinor vs Eleanor spelling? Also could you use Noa as a nickname?

    1. Thanks!

      I like both spellings equally. My take on spelling is this: if you don’t have a preference, use the dominant spelling, because it will be less of a hassle. But if you have a preference and the spelling is traditional or seems phonetically reasonable, then go for it – but be prepared to gently repeat and correct others … possibly often.

      That said, my daughter’s name definitely falls into the repeat/explain/enforce category and it’s been fine. I think anyone who’s ever read Jane Austen would immediately get it.

  3. We just welcomed a little Eleanor into our extended family yesterday! She will go by Ellie but I think Lenny and Nora are fabulous as well.

  4. My wife’s name is Eleonore and she was always called Nori by her family. When she moved to Canada from Holland,everyone else called her Ellie. Me I like Eleonore the best. It is spelled with an acute accent on the E.

  5. My name is Eleanor. I get called Nori by one friend, Ellie by a few (which I don’t like) and Elle by many. I like Elle the best.

  6. My cat is Eleanor, nicknamed Nori, so I was very happy to see that option! Also, if Leo is on the table, what about Eli as well?

    1. I love both Leni and Nell! Both were in the running for our second baby if he’d been a girl, although I think we would have gone for Eleonora or Leonora for the full name.

    2. I think Evie is too far a stretch, because a strong “v” sound is present in the nickname and completely absent in the full name. If the middle name started with a “V” it would be less of a stretch, though would still baffle people when they heard her real first name. For example Eleanor Violet nn Evie (E.V.) is not intuitive but folks would think you clever. I can vouch for this because my sister and I got our nicknames in just such a fashion, and even explaining that the nickname comes from our initials gets met with blank looks; we usually have to explain that our full name is (for example) Katherine Christine = KC = Casey. At which point most people’s looks of confusion clear, and many of them look impressed. Casey for Catherine is just as non intuitive as Evie for Eleanor. Just as people assume the back form (if there is one) for Casey is Cassandra or Cassidy, people will assume the back form for Evie is Evelyn or Everly. And they will sometimes call her one of those instead. The number of times my sister and I have had to explain “that’s not my name” and asked folks not to call us an assumed back form is innumerable.