Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Eileen

As the Irish people began to be exposed to names outside of their native Gaelic tongue in the early Middle Ages, especially through the spread of Christianity and the presence of various foreign settlers and invaders (i.e., Vikings, Norman-French, Anglo-Saxons, etc), they would adopt some of these names into their own Gaelic language. This is how Aveline morphed into Eibhlín in Ireland. Later on English speakers would anglicize all of these Irish-Gaelic names which is how Eibhlín eventually became Eileen. Originally the Norman-French brought Aveline to the British Isles after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Avila was an Old German female name from the Germanic element “avi” probably meaning “desired”. Avelina developed into a diminutive of Avila which the French adopted as Aveline. In other words, the evolution of Eileen would look something like this: Avila –> Avelina –> Aveline –> Eibhlín –> Eileen. Essentially a Germanic name that crossed over into a Celtic language; that’s why it looks confusing. Later on Eileen became considered the Irish equivalent of Helen (which is a Greek name from “hēlios”, or “sun”, to indicate a sunbeam or ray of light specifically). So Eileen is a name with two potential etymological origins, both of which are quite pleasant in their meanings. Eileen jumped the borders of the Emerald Isle in the late 19th century and spread more widely to other English speaking nations.

All About the Baby Name – Eileen

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME EILEEN

The number Five personality loves the excitement of life and can easily adapt to all situations. As natural adventurers, these personalities thrive on the new and unexpected and prefer to be in constant motion. It makes them feel alive. They'll stir up some action if there's not enough around, and as inherent risk-takers they enjoy pushing the envelope. Naturally rebellious, the Five personality has no fear and never resists change.  Traveling and new experiences feed their souls. Fives are very social and attract friends with ease. People love to be around the Five fun-loving and exciting energy.  This is also a lucky number in numerology (like the Threes), so fortune seems to shine on them, helped along by their own optimism and good-nature. Fives have a quick wit, a cerebral mind, and are generally very persuasive. 

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME EILEEN

Eileen made her debut on the U.S. female naming charts way back in 1882 which was about a generation after the largest wave of Irish immigration to America resulting for the Great Potato Famine in the mid 19th century. So it was most likely the swarms of newly arrived Irish-Americans who introduced the quaintly sweet Eileen to the rest of the population. In fact, Eileen showed remarkable acceptance pretty quickly; by 1920, Eileen was already a Top 100 favorite girl’s name in the country. Achieving her peak success in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Eileen was always dancing on or near position #100 on the charts. It was really the 1960s that marked the beginning of the end for Eileen. The name slowly fell off the American radar and continues her decline today. Now approaching the bottom of the charts, this little Irish lass may be on her way out. It makes us want to shout out: “Come on Eileen!” in reference to the 80s one-hit-wonder band Dexy's Midnight Runners and one of the first music videos introduced on the brand new cable channel MTV (circa 1983). Yes perhaps Eileen is considered slightly outdated by today’s naming standards, but we like her understated old-fashioned Irish charm and think this one is ripe for revival. Here’s a little trivia for you: superstar pop-country singer Shania Twain was actually born Eilleen Regina Edwards in 1965 (apparently her mother added an extra “l” to the name). Eileen and her Scottish twin Aileen are two names slipping away to the land of the forgotten…

Quick Facts

ON EILEEN

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

748

PRONUNCIATION:

EYE-leen

SIMPLE MEANING:

Desired; or Sunbeam, ray of light

Characteristics

OF EILEEN

Freedom-loving

Adventurous

Adaptable

Intellectual

Easygoing

Progressive

Sensual

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Eileen

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME EILEEN

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Eileen

Popular Songs

ON EILEEN

Eileen's Song
a song by Burlap To Cashmere

Eileen Aroon
a song written by Cearbhall Óg Ó Dálaigh

Where My Eileen is Waiting For Me
a song by Johnny McEvoy

Eileen Og
an Irish song performed by the Dubliners

Eileen
a song by Keith Richards

Don't Walk Away Eileen
a song by Sam Roberts

Come On Eileen
a song by Dexys Midnight Runners

Famous People

NAMED EILEEN

Eileen Brennan (actress)
Eileen Farrell (opera singer)
Eileen Heckart (actress)

Children of Famous People

NAMED EILEEN

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Eileen

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME EILEEN

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Eileen