What does Esther mean?
Esther /es-ther/ [2 sylls.] as a girls' name is pronounced ESS-ter. It is of Persian origin, and the meaning of Esther is "myrtle, bride; star".
Biblical: a young beautiful Hebrew woman who became the wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus, and risked herself to save her people. Jews celebrate the festival of Purim in memory of her. Her Hebrew name was Hadassah meaning both "myrtle" and "bride", and the form Esther is a Persian translation of it. It could also derive from Persian stara meaning "star", or be a Hebrew form of the name of the Persian goddess of love and fertility Ishtar. Esther has traditionally been given to girls born during the period of Purim, the feast that celebrates Esther's biblical achievements. The name was later taken up by the Puritans in the 17th century. Though not related in origin, Esther has been used before as an English form of the Irish Gaelic name Aislinn. Swimming actress Esther Williams; cosmetics pioneer Estée Lauder.
How popular is Esther?
Esther is a very prominent first name for females (#132 out of 4276, Top 3%) and also a very prominent last name for all people (#38263 out of 150436, Top 25%). (2000 U.S. Census)
Shown below is the birth name popularity of Esther for girls. Esther reached its peak rank of #30 in the U.S. in the 1900s, and is currently at #203. (2014 Birth Statistics)
Ashlynn (#323 in 2014), Hadassah (#701), Estelle (#906), Aisling, Hester, Hetty, Starla, Ettie, Easter, Esta, Aishling, Ester and Essie are the popular alternative forms of Esther (#203 in 2014) ranked in the Top 1000. Variants like Aislin are seldom used. These girl names reached the height of their popularity during 1890-1899 (usage of 0.3988%) and have become much less popular since (usage 0.1334%, 66.6% less), with forms like Ester, Essie, Esta, Easter and Hester becoming somewhat outmoded. Hadassah (#701) and Ashlynn (#323) are two of the more contemporarily stylish names for newborns among these. Below is a graphed comparison of the popularity of the girl name Esther and associated names. (2014 Birth Statistics)