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Eileen (F)>

Eileen (female)

Synonym(s):Helen (F)
Variants:Aibhilin (F) Aibhlin (F) Aileen (F) Eibhlin (F) Evelyn (F) Helen (F)
Pet Name(s):Nellie (F)
Derivative of:Aveline (F) Evelyn (F)
Can be spelt:Eilean (F) Eilleen (F) Ilean (F) Ileen (F) Ileene (F) Ilene (F)
Source(s): The Oxford Names Companion, OUP
"Scottish Forenames" - Donald Whyte, FGH, FSG
Private communications [ER, MG], Chambers Dictionary (2003)

Irish and English.

The generally accepted derivation of Eileen is that it is the Anglicized form of Aileen [or Eibhlin/Aibhilin] which is itself the Irish form of Helen [q.v.].  Chambers suggests Eileen may alternatively be a variant of Evelyn (see below).

A correspondent [ER] notes that her grandmother was baptised Eileen but also known as Helen. By extension she was given the pet name of Nellie.

Another correspondent [MG] has pointed out that scholarly sources now consider that Eileen is Celtic, derived from the Norman French Aveline, and hence equivalent to Evelyn. This may be a case of parallel derivation.