We’ve discussed Eleanor and Helena. Here’s one that shares qualities with both.

Thanks to Fran for suggesting Lenora as Baby Name of the Day.

Lenora is a name hugging the edges. She’s been falling since the late 1800s, when she ranked in the US Top 200. Her steady decline continued into the 1970s, and she disappeared from the Top 1000 entirely after 1975.

And yet, she’s vaguely familiar, probably because of her similarity to a cluster including other sparingly used names formed with the same elements. I wrote about Leora a while back, when I dug up the following names that also appeared in the 1920 rankings:

  • Leona (#89 in 1920)
  • Leola (#226)
  • Leota (#355)
  • Leone (#488)
  • Leatha (#665)
  • Leonora (#666)
  • Leonor (#882)
  • Cleora (#941)

Lenora was #267 in 1920, and other len- names included:

  • Lenore (#324)
  • Elenora (#687)
  • Lennie (#793)
  • Elenor (#961)
  • Elenore (#992)

It wasn’t just lesser-used names, either. For boys, Leonard and Leo both charted in the US Top 50. Eleanor charted at #25.

Dare I say it? I suspect len- and leo- were the kay- and jay- of their era. Independently, few of the names seemed especially popular. But tally them up, and the impression is very different. A back-of-the-envelope estimate counts around 14,500 girls wearing some variation. That’s far short of the 70,000-plus newborn girls called Mary in 1920, but depending of how you define related names, you can easily surpass staples like Evelyn, Alice and Irene. If I had included Ellen and Helen in all of their possible spellings, she just might’ve given Mary a run for her money.

Calculations aside, notable Lenoras were not many.

One that stands out was Lenora Mattingly Weber, a mother of six and prolific writer. Much of her work took the form of wholesome short stories for women’s magazines and The Saturday Evening Post. From the 1940s into the 60s, she also authored a series of young adult novels about Beany Malone, a teenager growing up in Denver, Colorado, where Mrs. Weber had raised her brood. The series extends from girlhood into Beany’s married life, and eventually included Beany’s cookbook, too.

If you’re a BBC junkie, you might think of actress Lenora Crichlow. She’s appeared in Doctor Who and the supernatural Being Human, as well as the all-human Material Girl, where she plays a fashion designer. And if you follow politics, there’s third-party presidential candidate Lenora Fulani, the first woman and the first African-American to be on the ballot in all fifty states, back in 1988.

There’s also a tiny city in Kansas called Lenora, and a village in the Czech Republic. Toss in a restaurant, a gracious Southern mansion and a handful of other uses.

Lenora has the feeling of a gentle antique, a logical choice to pair with Clara, Abigail and Violet. She’s an unexpected formal option for Nora or Lena. And she’s an elegant way to honor a grandpa Leonard.

Who knows? Maybe around 2115, Kaylee and Kaylin will be prime candidates for a revival.

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. My daughter is names Lenora and it fits her perfectly. We named her after her Great Great Grandma Nora. We use Nora as well. I love the name Lenora!

  2. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings but it is not a very pretty name.It reminds me of a witch or haggard old woman.Not a precious baby!

    1. I think we all have that reaction to certain names, Anonymous. But in an age when Eleanor, Nora, and Cora are in the US Top 100, I think Lenora is very on-trend, and would strike most people as quite pretty.

  3. I was named for my grandfather, Leonard. I grew up wishing I had a “normal” name but soon realized I liked having something that was different from most of my peers. My name got shortened to Leni. 😉

  4. I really like the name Lenora, but it always reminds me of the princess in one of my favorite children’s stories…James Thurber’s, “Many Moons”. It’s not a bad association, I’m just not sure it would work for me.

  5. My daughter is Elenora. We wanted to go with Lenora originally but googling with the filter off brought up not one but two adult actresses/models by what would have been my daughter’s full name. But we couldn’t give up the cute “Enora” nickname so we decided to give a due nod to the greatest American first lady, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

    We love her name! People call her Nora too and it is one that is ripe
    With variations and wonderful opportunities.

    Thumbs up to Elenora, Lenora and Enora! All beautiful names!

  6. Question: Is Leonora a legit verison of this name? I really like that spelling but cannot figure out if that spelling is valid. I see it listed on your list here so I want to think it is. Which leads to another question, Is it pronounced Leo-nora or Le-a-nora.