Meaning and Name Origin
Ernest \e-rne-st, er-nest\ as a boys' name is pronounced ERN-ist. It is of Old German origin, and the meaning of Ernest is "serious business; battle to the death". From the word eornost. Literary: Oscar Wilde's comedy "The Importance of Being Earnest" makes the name Earnest a key feature of the plot. The name however is only distantly related with the English word. Author Ernest Hemingway; actor Ernest Borgnine; entertainer Ernie Kovacs.
Ernest is a very prominent first name for males (#86 out of 1220, Top 7%) and also a very prominent last name for both adults and children (#5500 out of 88799, Top 6%). (2000 U.S. Census)
Displayed below is the birth name popularity of Ernest for boys. Ernest reached its top rank of #24 in the U.S. during 1890-1899, and is presently at #880. (2014 Birth Statistics)
Displayed below is a comparison of the usage of the boy name Ernest and related names. Popular varying forms of Ernest (#880 the previous year) listed in the Top 1000 are Earnest, Ernesto (#651 the previous year), Ernie and Ernst. These boy names reached the peak of their popularity during the years 1940-1949 and have become significantly less widespread since, with the forms Earnest, Ernest, Ernie and Ernst becoming less stylish. Ernesto (#651) is the most chic baby name among these. (2014 Birth Statistics)
A suggested similar baby name is Ermes. This name tends to be less commonly used than Ernest.