The usage of this name is actually somewhat debated. It could be a Dutch short form of Eleanor, or it could be a variant transcription of the Arabic unisex name نور which is derived from the Arabic word for “light.”
Its usage as a male or female name shifts throughout the Islamic world, in the Arabic-speaking world, it tends to be used as a female name, while in the Turkic world, it tends to be used as a masculine name. Its original usage was in reference to the 24th sura of the Qu’ran.
The name is borne by the former Queen Noor of Jordan who was born as Lisa Najeeb Halaby (b.1951). Upon her marriage to King Hussein she took the Islamic name of Noor Al-Hussein (Light of Hussein).
Other notable and interesting bearers include: Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944) a British British Special Operations Executive agent and heroin of WWII.
It was also borne by a Mughal Empress, Nur Jahan (1577-1645)
Nur is often used more as a name element in many Kazakh, Tatar and Uzbek given names, both male and female depending on the second element of the name.
Feminine offshoots of its Arabic version include:
- Nour (Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian)
- Nuriya (Amharic)
- Nura نورة (Arabic/Azeri)
- Nur Нур (Chechen/Tatar)
- Nuret Нурет (Circassian)
- Nuraj Нурай (Kazakh. NOO-rye)
- Nurija Нурія (Kazakh. NOO-ree-yah)
- Nursha Нурша (Kazakh: NOOR-shah)
- Nura Нурa (Tatar)
- Nuru (Swahili)
- Nur (Afghan/Amharic/Kyrgyz/Ughur/Urdu/Turkish)
- Nuri (Amharic)
- Nuru (Amharic/Azeri)
- Nuro (Kurdish)
Noor is also the name of a river in Belgium.
As of 2008, Noor was the 15th most popular female name in Belgium and the 31st most popular in the Netherlands, (2010).