Elena vs. Helena

Hello! I am in need of some outside opinions.

A bit of background - my name is [name_f]Danielle[/name_f] and I’m Hispanic. I love my name but a part of me wishes it was a bit more representative of my cultural background (like [name_f]Daniela[/name_f]). [name_f]My[/name_f] husband is caucasian (Irish and Polish background), so our kids will get his Polish last name and might not even look Hispanic so it’s really important to me/us that their first name is Spanish/Latino (or at the very least sounds ok in Spanish).

I have always loved the name [name_f]Elena[/name_f] (pronounced in Spanish “eh LEN ah”, not “eh LAY nah”). [name_f]Every[/name_f] time i see it and hear it my senses perk up (if that makes sense). [name_f]My[/name_f] husband likes the name too.

For a middle name we would go with [name_f]Isabel[/name_f] because it was both my maternal and paternal grandmothers’ middle name, as well as my mother’s middle name. They’re the strongest women I know so I really want to honor them with that middle name.

We’re in our 1st trimester (and by we I really mean me haha - hello morning sickness) discussing potential names and my husband suggested the name [name_f]Helena[/name_f] because his late grandmother’s name was [name_f]Helen[/name_f]. Now, in Spanish and [name_u]French[/name_u] (at least) the name [name_f]Helena[/name_f] is pronounced with a silent H (so “eh LEN ah” like the name i’ve always loved), so basically I’d still get my wish of the name I want, just with a slightly different spelling and it also honors a beautiful female ancestor. I love the idea of honoring loved ones, but I am not fully on board for a few reasons:

  1. Is she going to hate us for giving her a name with a silent “H” and having to explain that for the rest of her life?

  2. I feel like a part of me is giving up the beautiful spelling of [name_f]Elena[/name_f] I had my heart set on.

  3. A bit more selfishly (and gosh does this sound horrible but i’m being honest. please don’t judge. i really mean no harm) - I never met that grandmother of his and while I’m sure she’s absolutely amazing, it feels like it would be like honoring her more than my 2 grandmothers and mother because it’s the first name and not the middle like [name_f]Isabel[/name_f]? Plus, she already gets his last name (I didn’t take his last name) and I’m the one that is carrying her, growing her and will birth her. This is the least of the issues though - I can easily get over this but thought i’d throw that out there to give everyone a full picture.

After reading other forums on this topic I realized that because we want the name pronounced “eh LEN ah” and not “eh LAY nah” she will have to explain her name regardless of the silent H or not, so does that really matter anyways? Plus, the two names mean the same thing - I think it’s basically the same name just different language/cultural origins.

I’m just afraid of naming her one way and then regretting it for the rest of my life.

Here is my pro/con list - would love an outsiders unbiased perspective:

Elena Pros

  • Always loved this name
  • A bit more intuitive to pronounce “eh LEN ah”

Elena Cons

  • Will still have to explain the correct pronunciation
  • Seems more popular/common than [name_f]Helena[/name_f]
  • I have a friend named this so I sometimes do think of her, which bothers me a bit

Helena Pros

  • Honors a loved one
  • Can be pronounced “eh LEN ah” like they do in Spanish and [name_u]French[/name_u] speaking countries
  • Not as common/popular as [name_f]Elena[/name_f], but essentially the same name
  • Don’t really know anyone named this (there was one girl in college that I briefly met that had a thing for my ex-bf so there’s that, but perhaps I had her name wrong? That’s what I’m trying to tell myself at least lol)

Helena Cons

  • Silent H might be a pain
  • Not as intuitive to get to the right pronunciation as [name_f]Elena[/name_f]
  • It’s not [name_f]Elena[/name_f] (spelling-wise)

Thoughts? I just don’t want to regret the name we end up with. Hopefully through this and over the next 7 months I’ll get clarity.


I think [name_f]Elena[/name_f] can honor a [name_f]Helen[/name_f] nearly as well as [name_f]Helena[/name_f] does, personally! To me, it sounds like [name_f]Elena[/name_f] is the name you really love, and you may regret going with [name_f]Helena[/name_f]. Since [name_f]Elena[/name_f] and [name_f]Helen[/name_f] have the same root/meaning, I think you can use [name_f]Elena[/name_f] and still have the honor name benefit.


I never heard [name_f]Helena[/name_f] could be pronounced with silent H, so that might cause pronunciation issues unfortunately. Although that’s a general problem of [name_f]Elena[/name_f]/Helena - @EJpuddlejumper said her name (eh-LEN-uh) always gets mispronounced

I’d go with [name_f]Elena[/name_f] since it still honours [name_f]Helen[/name_f] well. And as I know, it’s the Spanish variant.

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I think it’s very lucky that both you and your husband love the same name and have agreed on it so quickly in the pregnancy. So congrats on that! The only thing left to determine is the spelling.
It is kind of a tricky situation. [name_f]Elena[/name_f] will get mispronounced often, but [name_f]Helena[/name_f] will get mispronounced always. It would probably be annoying to deal with. Then again, there’s not a huge difference between ‘’[name_f]My[/name_f] name gets mispronounced a lot’’ and ‘’[name_f]My[/name_f] name gets mispronounced all the time’', so I don’t think this is a deal-breaker.
I agree with the previous poster, I think [name_f]Elena[/name_f] honors grandma [name_f]Helen[/name_f] just as much as [name_f]Helena[/name_f], and it’s probably easier to wear as it’d get mispronounced less.
You mentioned that you love [name_f]Elena[/name_f], but your husband just ‘‘likes’’ it. Would he still be into the name if it was spelled [name_f]Elena[/name_f], or does he only like it for the potential connection to his grandma? Again, I think [name_f]Elena[/name_f] is still an honor name 100% but I’m not sure if your husband sees it that way. It’s maybe something to talk to him about.

My vote is for [name_f]Elena[/name_f]! I think it honors your culture and his grandmother as well.

When we were debating two close names my hubby told me the person who’s body might get torn up gets the final say and I agree. :slight_smile:

I think [name_f]Elena[/name_f] works to honour a [name_f]Helen[/name_f] so I’d stick with the lovely [name_f]Elena[/name_f] :slight_smile:

I agree with pp posters [name_f]Elena[/name_f] could totally honor a [name_f]Helena[/name_f] (they are variations of the same name) with that being said [name_f]Helena[/name_f] could also be pronounced the same as [name_f]Elena[/name_f]. So really it’s just up to you guys how you want to spell it. AS For other options to make sure both sides of the family feel like they’re getting recognized and honored you might consider throwing in second middle (maybe give her your surname as a second middle and name her [name_f]Helena[/name_f], or use grandma’s middle as a second middle and name her [name_f]Elena[/name_f]?)

In your situation,I would go [name_f]Elena[/name_f]. :slight_smile:

Firstly congratulations! :partying_face::partying_face:

I think it’s brilliant that you’ve agreed on a name so quickly honestly naming is really hard and the fact that you came to such a great decision together is fabulous.

Personally I would go with [name_f]Elena[/name_f] this is the name you love and for me has less pronunciation issues (I didn’t know [name_f]Helena[/name_f] can be pronounced without the h) and definitely can honour a [name_f]Helen[/name_f] after all the name derives from [name_f]Helen[/name_f]. I wouldn’t want you to regret not using the name you love so I would go with [name_f]Elena[/name_f]. [name_f]Elena[/name_f] [name_f]Isabel[/name_f] is beautiful.

Good luck

I’m portuguese and I pronounce [name_f]Helena[/name_f] (traditional spelling in my country) and [name_f]Elena[/name_f] the same way. Both spellings are gorgeous! However, I’m not the best person to assure you that you will not find other people who pronounce the names differently, in a [name_f]English[/name_f] speaking country. But I also think that it is a very simple correction and I’m sure you daughter will not hate you for that!
[name_f]Helena[/name_f]/Elena [name_f]Isabel[/name_f] is stunning! Whatever you decide, you little girl will have a gorgeous name.

First, I totally agree with others that [name_f]Elena[/name_f] would honor [name_f]Helen[/name_f].

I think [name_f]Elena[/name_f] is your best option because it’s a quicker pronunciation fix. [name_f]Helena[/name_f] to me would be he-LAY-na or HELL-en-uh, so it wouldn’t be as simple as saying “silent H” because that would be eh-LAY-na or ELL-en-uh. Not eh-LEN-uh, like you want.

As someone else said, it’s the difference between a name that’s mispronounced some of the time ([name_f]Elena[/name_f]) and a name that’s mispronounced all of the time ([name_f]Helena[/name_f]). That’s why I’d go with [name_f]Elena[/name_f].

I’d go for [name_f]Elena[/name_f] no matter what, but considering the circumstances, I still say [name_f]Elena[/name_f]. I have a friend [name_f]Danielle[/name_f] in the same situation has you, and I almost feel like [name_f]Helena[/name_f] with a silent H might be similar to [name_f]Danielle[/name_f] in that while easy to pronounce in Spanish, it’s obviously not a Latino name. Which would be fine for some people, but in your case I don’t think you’d be as happy with it