How an Ancient Germanic name became a French classic

French scholar, intellectual, writer, and nun Héloïse d’Argenteuil
(ca. 1090–16 May 1164)

Helewidis is an Ancient Germanic name derived from roots heil (healthy, hale) and wid (wide). In Proto–Germanic, the name was Hailawidis, “holy wood.” Due to cultural osmosis, it eventually was adopted into Old French as Héloïse. Probably the most famous bearer was the above-pictured Héloïse d’Argenteuil, one of the most educated and intelligent women of the Middle Ages. She was famous in her own right long before Pierre Abélard came along!

Other forms of this lovely name include:

1. Éloïse is modern French. This is my character Adicia’s middle name. Though her dad cares less about any of his nine kids, he nevertheless made sure they all got at least one French name, because he’s so proud of having 100% French blood. Without the diacritical marks, as they both say several times, the name would look like it’s pronounced El-WAZ.

As simply Eloise, the name is English. Many people are familiar with the 1950s Eloise series about a girl who lives in Manhattan’s glamourous Plaza Hotel. “Dear Eloise” is also a 1966 Hollies’ song, after which I named my tenth journal.

Dr. Eloísa Díaz Insunza (1866–1950), first woman to attend the University of Chile’s medical school, and South America’s first female doctor

2. Eloísa is Spanish, Catalan, and Galician. The variant Eloisa is Italian. Eloïsa is also Catalan.

3. Heloísa is Portuguese. The variant Heloïsa is a rare Catalan form. Heloisa is German, Slovak, and Czech.

4. Elouise is English. I’m not a fan of this spelling!

5. Helouise is also English. I have a character by this name, who goes by Hellie, but if I’d created her at a much older age, I probably would’ve used the more traditional spelling.

6. Heloiza is Polish and Slovenian.

7. Eloiza is Russian, Azeri, and Brazilian–Portuguese. The variant Eloīza is Latvian.

8. Elouisa is English.

9. Eloisia is Italian.