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The two spellings of the female name Eleanor and Elinor are sounded identically in present-day English. The name have three syllables, 'ELL-i-ner' (IPA: /ˈɛl ɪ(or ə)n ɔː(or ə)r/.

Eleanor/Elinor is derived from the name Helen, with which it shares the pet-name Nell. It has an Italian form Eleonora which is sometimes used in Britain. It is not certain that this is the origin of the name Leonora/Leonore/Lenore, which is the name of the heroine in various romantic writings, such as Beethoven's Fidelio (originally called Leonora).
The first Eleanor recorded in England was Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204), wife of Henry II (1154-1189). Queen Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290), first wife of Edward I (1272-1307) was popular, and the name was much used in her honour. (See Eleanor Crosses.) A third Queen Eleanor was Eleanor of Provence (1223-1291), wife of Henry III (1216-1272)