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Gender: F Meaning of Esther: "star" Origin of Esther: Persian Esther's Popularity in 2013: #228

Popularity: this week.

One of the major female figures in the Old Testament, quiet, studious Esther was in the Top 50 a hundred years ago, and stayed in the Top 100 until 1935. It is now on the ascent again, appealing to parents -- Ewan McGregor is one -- seeking an underused biblical name with a strong history and serious image.

In the Bible, Esther, originally named Hadassah, was the captured Jewish wife of the King of Persia who risked her life to save her exiled people from annihilation, a story celebrated by Jews on the holiday of Purim, so that it has traditionally been given to girls around that time.

Judy Garland played two memorable Esthers--in Meet Me in St. Louis and A Star is Born; Esther Summerson is a main character in Dickens' Bleak House and Esther Greenwood is the autobiographical character's name in Sylvia Plath's A Bell Jar. Someone who glamorized the name is champion swimmer-turned-movie-star Esther Williams.

Madonna adopted Esther as her Kaballah name.

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Famous People Named Esther

Esther Williams, American swimmer and actress
Esther Ralston, American silent-film actress
Esther Ople Rueher, American author
Esther Lofgren, American rower
Esther Rose McGregor (b. 2001), daughter of Ewan McGregor
Esther Armah, Ghanaian playwright, radio host, and political commentator

Pop Culture References for the Name Esther

Esther Drummond, member of Torchwood, as of Miracle Day
Esther Earl, founder of the This Star Won't Go Out Foundation and "Esther Day" where you tell your family that you love them
Esther Summerson, character in Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Esther Smith, Judy Garland's character in Meet Me in St. Louis
Esther, character from "Orphan" played by Isabelle Fuhrman
Esther Mikaelson, original witch on the "Vampire Diaries"
Esther Blodgett, Judy Garland's character in "A Star is Born" who becomes Vicki Lester
Esther Greenwood, main character in "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath
Esther Clavin, Cliff's mother on Cheers
Esther, character from Star of Babylon, by Barbara Wood

Essa, Essey, Essie, Essy, Esta, Estee, Esthur, Esti, Ettey, Etti, Ettie, Etty, Hesther, Hettie, Hetty, Hittie

Esther's International Variations

Estée (French) Eistir (Irish) Estzer, Ester, Eszter, Eszti (Slavic)