View of Elsinore, Denmark, from Kronborg Castle.
View of Elsinore from Kronborg Castle; Image via Wikipedia

Prompted by a post on Elsie, Emily of Word Cake suggested this literary place name.

Our Baby Name of the Day is Elsinore.

Before you declare this one way too over the top to ever consider, here’s a surprise: US Census records indicate that women have been named Elsinore over the decades. How many? Not enough to chart in the Top 1000, and no more than five in 2009, but more than a handful.

William Shakespeare gets credit for fixing Elsinore in our collective memory as the setting for his tragic masterwork Hamlet. Head to modern day Denmark, and you’ll be visiting Helsingør. It is, in every respect, as Shakespeare wrote about it, and a castle fit for a troubled prince stands there, near the water.

The castle is called Kronborg, and it merits a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites roster. The designation is not just because Kronborg is the setting of Shakespeare’s tale, but also for its status as an important Renaissance castle.

Time your visit right, and you may actually be able to see Hamlet performed at Kronborg. It doesn’t happen often, but occassional performances have been staged in recent years, most recently in 2009, when Jude Law took up the role of the Prince of Denmark.

Shakespeare was a great borrower, of course, and Hamlet’s roots begin with a medieval Danish story, exported in a more modern form in the 1500s, and eventually interpreted by the Bard around 1600. At the time, Helsingør was a big deal in international shipping. Shakespeare could have visited the area – even the castle – and we know that plenty of actors in his troupes made the trip. Even if he never set foot in Denmark, he certainly would’ve heard about the city and its impressive fortress.

Elsinore is referenced in plenty of other places, from 1983 cult comedy classic Strange Brew to the work of Danish writer Isak Dinesen.

None of this makes Elsinore a likely option for a girl’s name. The meaning is straightforward – hals means narrow. You can visit Helsingborg in Sweden, just a stone’s throw across the strategic straight of Øresund. Elsinore was likely in use as the city’s English name before Shakespeare cemented it in our memories.

Parents have borrowed plenty of names from the pages of Shakespeare’s plays: Gertrude and Ophelia from Hamlet, as well as Jessica, Juliet, Portia, and more. But it is Elsinore’s sound that places her in their company. She’s quite close to Eleanor, and not too far away from Elisabeth.

It makes for one of those compromise names that appeal to many parents. Elsinore is literary, truly unusual as a given name, and yet familiar at the same time. Nickname options range from Ellie and Elsie to Nora, all of which would fit right in circa 2011. She’d also fit in with a cluster of girls’ names that are sensible, feminine, and yet quite tailored. Think of Evelyn and Caroline, or the British Imogen. They are lady-like names, with a certain backbone. Elsinore may be truly unusual, but she fits right in.


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 think this is the first Name of the Day that I’ve never ever heard before! I wouldn’t use it personally because it sounds like too much of a smoosh name to me but it is interesting. Now if I ever hear it in real life, I’ll know it wasn’t made up.

  2. As a fan of Elsa and Eleanor, I want to like this name much more than I do… In reality, there is something holding me back. I don’t think it’s the “snore” sound, though that isn’t totally attractive, but just a niggling little thought in the back of my head. I could really see it appealing to people though.

  3. I kept thinking Elsinore is a Lord of the Rings name? I have no idea if this is true or not. Anybody know? Too tired and sick to use Google. I am not sure I could like this as a name. It’s pretty, but I don’t know if it is entirely useable.

    FYI, my name is 3-4-3 in syllabation, and it is way too long. I think that if one name is long (like Cassandra) the other needs to be short-like one syllable (like Jane). But that is just me.

    1. I can’t find a connection, Lady Gwyn, but I’m not sure I’ve done an exhaustive search. I hope you feel better!

  4. When I saw that Elsinore was coming up this week, I knew I’d heard it somewhere before, but I couldn’t remember where. I wondered if the link was a Camelot one – but it is ‘Hamlet’ that introduced me to the name.

    Maybe I’m pronouncing it differently, as it sounds like “Elles-in-or” to me – so I don’t have a ‘snore’ problem with it. That is very similar to Eleanor – who I’d normally pronounce “Elle-en-uh”, but my daughter has a friend called Eleanor and I guess it’s supposed to be “Elle-in-or”.

    I think I do like Elsinore, especially with the nickname options. Though it would be more middle name material for me personally.

  5. My first thought upon reading the title of today’s post was that I LOVE Elsinore. I had never considered it as a name before, but I love Elsie and Eleanor, so why not?

    Then I said the name out loud, and I did hear a very prominent “snore” sound. That’s unfortunate.

    1. I can hear the “snore” sound, but I’m not sure it is total dealbreaker, especially if you’re thinking about the middle spot.

  6. I really like Elsinore and am considering it as a middle for this LO if it’s a girl. It’s a pretty blend of my grandmother’s name, Elsie, and one of my favourites, Eleanor. Additionally, it’s a nice nod to my love of literature.

    I would be going simply with Elsie in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for the fact that, at present, all three girl’s names we’re considering (first name and two middles) have two syllables, just like our last name does. It really affects the flow.

    What do you think? Go the route we’d originally intended with two two-syllable middle names chosen to honour family members even though our current first-name contender is also two syllables, or change it up a little bit to improve the name’s overall flow? I’ve always been proud of the way Roseanna’s full name — Roseanna Ruth Adeline — flows, but is it really that important?

    1. It’s important to me personally to choose names that flow, so I’m in favor of adapting family names when necessary.

      However, I know not everyone feels that way. I have a friend with children called Chloe S@lly Is@bel and Joshua M@rk J@ck. Each middle was in honor of a grandparent, and the parents didn’t care that the names don’t flow nicely.

      Can I ask what first names you’re considering? And congratulations, by the way — I don’t think I knew that you were expecting again.

    2. Our son’s name is 2-2-2 syllables. His middle name is a family name and was chosen before his first name. We never use his middle name and most people probably don’t know what it is or if it flows ok. Also our last name could be mispronounced so that it ends in the same “ee” sound as his first name (Henry) – which would sound even worse in flow. So hopefully he doesn’t have that problem when he grows up.

      His older sister’s name does flow better. Maybe I would have cared more if he was a girl! Though if this next baby is a girl, her first name will be 2 syllables, just like our last name. Though I do plan on throwing a longer middle name in there. 🙂

      2-2-2-2 may not flow the best, but the middle names being family names is special. Plus most people probably won’t be saying all 4 names at once – so I think it would probably work. It would be hard to decide – our daughter’s one middle name was picked more on flow / syllables than meaning or family ties and I somewhat regret that.

    3. Roseanna Ruth Adeline is so lovely. I can imagine some 2-2-2 combos that work (Elsa Mary Roisin, Lucy Ella Maren) but I often find that some variation makes for a more appealing rhythm. Not always – I’d prefer Elsa Mary Roisin to Elsa Mary Rose, for example.

      1. Our plans change every day, but the most current thought is to use my mother’s name instead of my grandmother’s (since Roseanna was given Mark’s mother’s name). The names we’re now thinking of would, somewhat unfortunately, create a REALLY long name: 2-2-4-2. The last two syllables are from our last name, but at one point Mark was arguing that we throw another given name in there. My response? No way!

        We’re not sharing yet, both because we don’t actually know the gender of the baby, and also because we keep changing our minds.

      2. Charlotte Vera- I haven’t named any children myself yet, so this is just an opinion. I agree with Emmy Jo that adopting family names when necessary is perfectly fine. To my mind, the whole point is that the relative you are honoring and the child know who that name is for. Other people hearing the middle name aren’t going to know that it’s for a relative any more than they would know it’s been adapted from a relative’s name. So yes, I think the flow of a name matters. Good luck and congratulations 🙂

  7. I love Elizabeth and Eleanore but Elsinore might be pushing it for Me. Question have you ever done Hermione? This name has stepped in as front runner if this baby is a girl and I would love to know more.

  8. Me Too! “el snore” is what my brain did too. I love Elsie and am fond of Lenore & Elsa but Elsinore is not for me. It would be fabulous in the middle spot, I think. Distinct, even.

  9. I want to like this one, since I love both Elsa and Lenore, but all I hear with Elsinore is “el snore”…:(