Gender: Female Pronunciation: EZ-may Meaning of Esme: "esteemed, beloved; emerald" Origin of Esme: French; Persian Esme's Popularity in 2019: #433

Esme Origin and Meaning

The name Esme is a girl's name of French, Persian origin meaning "esteemed, beloved; emerald".

Esmé comes from the past participle of the Old French verb esmer, meaing “to esteem” or “to love.” It can also be considered a derivative of the Spanish name Esmeralda. Esmé was traditionally as masculine name, as in its original bearer, Esmé Stewart, 1st Duke of Lennox, and Esmée, with the same pronunciation, was the feminine form. Today both spellings are used as feminine given names.

Esmé is a sophisticated, distinctive, and charming J. D. Salinger name, from his classic 1950 story For Esmé, With Love and Squalor.

A current favorite among celebs, including Samantha Morton, Michael J. Fox and Katey Sagal, Esme got a lot of publicity via the character Esme Cullen, the vampire matriarch of the Olympic Coven in the Twilight Saga.

The final accent indicates the pronunciation of ez-may, though in English you can just spell it Esme. Whatever the spelling, Esme is one of the fastest-rising girl names starting with E.

16 names similar to Esme

These 16 names were selected by our users that were looking for other names like Esme. If you didn't find an alternative name that you like better than Esme, try our name generator. It allows you to go beyond the similarities of a name, which can provide a lot of inspiration!

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Rank in US: #433

- this week

Famous People Named Esme

Pop Culture References for the name Esme


gretahoostal Says:


Esmé is the MASCULINE version of this name. The feminine is Esmée. Please compare with the more familiar words “fiancé” and “fiancée”. We know the former is masculine, the latter feminine, and both are pronounced not as “fee-on-SEE” or “fee-on-SIH”, but “fee-on-SAY”.

fearlessfirefly Says:


Really loving the combo Celia Esme right now.

(STUDENT)Alicia Ridley Says:


What a beautiful name and I consider naming a daughter Esme. It is unique.

cheesy-biscuit Says:


I can see how this name is likeable

Alice Says:


I like this name, but I don't think I'd use it due to the complicated pronunciation discussion here. I feel like it'd be too much trouble. And I don't think of Twilight. I've never seen the movies or read those and that sort of story doesn't interest me. I do think of that girl in Peaky Blinders though, which doesn't bother me. I think there honestly are very few names that are NOT represented at least once in a movie, book, or show in pop culture, and popular things fade so parents shouldn't worry about it too hard. My name is Alice and obviously there's Alice in Wonderland and the Brady Bunch Alice and Honeymooners Alice but it's never bothered me and no one has ever asked if I'm named after any of them.

indiefendi2 Says:


I didn't really care either way for this name... until I heard Esmé Patterson sing.

MaryKathryn Says:


Whenever someone pronounces this name Ez-mee, my skin crawls.

paulapuddephatt Says:


I don't particularly like this name. I guess I must be in the minority, but just not a fan.

Kendry Says:


I am using this name for my baby girl due in June. I will be using a variant spelling so that the pronunciation is clear. We will be spelling it Esmae, I like the softer "may" ending opposed to the harder "me".

MercyW Says:


Whenever I hear Esmé, I automatically think: " the city's sixth most important financial advisor"

Esme Says:


My name is Esme and ever since I can remember it's been pronounced Ez-may. My mom told me once that when I was first born it was Es-mee but people kept pronouncing it wrong so she changed it to Ez-may. She got my name from the JD Salinger short story too and I am very proud of my name.

Tilelli Says:



eveyalecia Says:


You're definitely not butting in, thanks for replying also! :)
The problem with writing out vowel sounds is that we have to use multiple letters to try and get across the sound we mean, but which makes it an exaggeration of the sound. So, writing out "ay" is an exaggerated transcription of the sound I mean it to stand for, which is /e/. If that makes sense? If I were trying to transcribe "chez" phonetically without using IPA I'd write "shay," but with the more accurate IPA symbols I'd transcribe it as /ʃe/. Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with IPA, so we're sort of stuck using the slightly inaccurate representations of the sounds we're trying to get across.

(re: "th." Once the difference is pointed out to English speakers, they do notice it though. Voiced and voiceless "th" are not interchangeable in English, we just haven't been taught to notice the difference. For example, think of the noun "teeth" and the verb "teethe"-- the only difference phonetically is the voicing of the "th." That's different than a language where there IS no difference, where native speakers would have trouble distinguishing between the two sounds.)

eveyalecia Says:


Thanks everyone! Yes, I have listened to the pronunciation of éléphant, and I gotta say, it still sounds like "ay" to me? A short "ay," kind of like Impwood said, if you stop saying "ay" halfway through. I think maybe the confusion here is how we're trying to write out the sound we mean-- when I see "eh" I think of /ɛ/ not /e/, but "ay" makes me think of /e/. Anyway, I think we might be talking about the same sound, just writing it out differently! If you listen to the sound of /e/ (wikipedia[.]org/wiki/Close-mid_front_unrounded_vowel) how would you write out that sound? Personally, I write "ay" but you might write it as "eh"... but I think we're probably hearing the same sound.

Floris Says:


Btw, you're not annoying or ignorant:)
Plus, seeing people discuss the pronounciation of a name is may be useful for parents thinking about calling their kid Esme (with or without aigu)....

Impwood Says:


I find the é quite difficult to express in English. If you say a very open "ih" sound it gets nearly there, or if you start saying "ay" but stop halfway through. It's basically an open "eh" sound, as Floris and Tilelli said.

Tilelli Says:



Floris Says:


Yes :) I agree.... but Idk, maybe the é does sound like an ay to English people? I personally think describing sounds is really difficult, so the easiest way to find out how something is pronounced is to find a recording, I think.

Floris Says:


Aww, that's ok :)
Well, my first language is not English, so I'm not 100% sure about that. But yes, English speaking people do seem to pronounce the é like ay. some even say that this is what they were taught,...
But les or chez shouldn't be pronounced like ay either....?
I'm sorry, I've never understood why English speaking people say "ay", it just sounds very wrong to me. Have you googled the pronounciation of éléphant?

eveyalecia Says:


Thanks for your reply. I don't mean to be ignorant and annoying, but I'm curious about this because I'm studying both French and linguistics. I looked up French vowel IPA equivalents and from what I've found "é" is transcribed phonetically as /e/ which is the "ay" sound, the same vowel in "chez" and "les."
I think the main difference between what we're describing is the vowel length-- I think in English we tend to hold our /e/ slightly longer than French speakers do. But it is still the same sound. What do you think?

Tilelli Says:



Floris Says:


I’ve just sent you a message with the pronounciation of éléphant. It does not sound like an “ay” to me, if you call this sound an ay we just have different ways to describe it… I come from a country where French is actually an official language and started studying it when I was 7…. I also have family that’s francophone…

eveyalecia Says:


I'm not a native French speaker, but I've been studying it for many years, and I've always been taught that the accent aigu makes the [e] sound like "ay" as in éléphant "ay-lay-fon" ("fon" is awful, but I don't know how to transcribe that sound well).

Floris Says:


No, an aigu is never ever pronounced as ay! Maybe English speaking people pronounce it that way, but this is not the French pronounciation.
The grave and the aigu lead to the e being pronounced like an "e", it simply means that the e is not silent like it the last e is in Aurélie or Victoire.... The é is more open whereas the è is slow and a bit solemn...

Floris Says:


Esmé(e) sounds to me like es-me, both es pronounced lik egg, with the "e" just a bit more open and French... Tbh, if you want to pronounce it the French way an accent over the e will not mean that any French person will pronounce it like Es-may, it actually indicates that the é is pronounced with an open e...

So, if you want it to sound like Es-May I don't see why you would bother with the aigu. I'm not trying to be mean or anything, I think Es-may sounds very very lovely. But the é would just lead to me (and maybe others) pronouncing it the French way. Which is not what you seem to want. I would however like to add that Esmay is actually an old French name... Maybe that would lead people to pronounce it the way you want?

And adding or not adding an e (Esmé or Esmée) doesn't change the pronounciation from a French point of view. Esmée is just feminine and Esmé actually isn't.

EW314 Says:


This is one of those names that's really popular in the UK, but only just being (re)discovered in the US. It's an illustrious category: Freya, Imogen, Poppy, Florence, Thea, Martha, Evie, Amelie, etc. etc. etc. I can definitely see this catching on as it has here, Twilight or no Twilight.

EW314 Says:


I totally agree: "ez-mee" feels so more understated and elegant than "ez-may".

cales41 Says:


I love the name, especially the pronunciation Es-may; however, I have only ever come across one person who pronounces it this way--everyone else seems to be Es-mee. Just curious about people's opinion on spelling/pronunciation: Would you spell it Esme and correct people to pronounce it Es-may as necessary, or would you place an accent over the final E to emphasize how you would like it to be pronounced?

Michaela Says:


Esme Clarimonde - the first combo I ever made :)

MaryKathryn Says:


Just as with Bella, Edward, Carlisle, Jasper, Rosalie, Emmett, etc. Esme has been extracted from my name bank. Though, I think this name is still beautiful and very usable for others. The same can be said for the rest of the "Twilight" names.

Lola Says:


I love the vivacity in this name! And of course the fact that it comes with the built in nicknames Em or Emmy. As I have never seen Twilight, this name is not a problem and definitely a favourite for me.

priviledgedpistachios Says:


I really love this name! And I hope it won't completely be related to Twilight

Nicholas Says:


Can also be pronounced Es-mee

halloweengirl Says:


This would have been my baby's name if I were having a girl. I think its so dainty and vintage.

ElsaAnne Says:


I only know of Es-mee's - I prefer this pronunciation over Es-may.

Sarah Wilson Says:


My daughter's name came from Esme, we named her Eszamey pronounced "Ez-uh-may". She is always told that she has a very beautiful name (10 yrs old now).

vito208 Says:


Very pretty .. I like that it's only four letters. Known but not too popular imo. A lot of people think it's too popular but I have yet to meet someone named Esme. I think it could be short for Esmeralda/Emerald too.

Emtron Says:


This name reminds me of Esmé Squalor from the Series of Unfortunate Events in book seven. But I had always thought it was pronounced ez-ma. Lol. My bad😬

stephanieamilea Says:


Actually I think you are referring to accent grave. Accent aigu is pronounced as "ay", as in "say", "day", and es-may".

TaliaCat Says:


Just too Twilight for me

headintheclouds Says:


I love Esme! As previous poster said, it's lovely and vintage, due for revival today, and is just feminine yet not too elaborate, and will age well. The beautiful meaning is another bonus. It's become one of my favorite names, and I'd actually consider using Esme for a future daughter!

Twilight's brought Esme, and many other beautiful gem names such as Rosalie, Emmett, Carlisle etc. back into the mainstream consciousness but I don't think this name (or any of the others barring the nightmare of Renesmee) will become unusable due to the association. After all, Isabella, Edward and Jacob, though more popular than Esme, have long histories of usage on their own before Twilight, and are commonly used.

Before the whole Twilight phenomenon, I associated the name Esme with the Salinger short story For Esme, In Love and Squalor. I know of one distant family acquaintance who was said to be named for the character. Infinitely a much better literary association!

babymagic Says:


Simple and sweet, but perhaps likely to be mispronounced.

helenlouise Says:


I would pronounce it ez-me. I do like it but I don't think with my manchester accent it dances off the tongue as it should do.

Catastroffy Says:


Esmé with the accent isn't actually authentically pronounced "ez-may", at least not in France; the French E accute is always pronounced more like the I in words like "pin".

britm18 Says:


I totally agree with "evalewis" - this name really is the perfect mix of hip, chic and vintage. I know several British women with the name, but it doesn't seem to have taken off here in America.

If I hadn't been set on my potential future daughters first name since high school, I would use this as a first name. It's currently on our short list for middle names.

Zoey_Artemisia Says:


Love it

madmaddie Says:


Yes, that one really is a monstrosity, isn't it? :)

DearestJules Says:


I think it's still usable, despite the Twilight connection. Really, the only name that is "too Twilight" to me is Renesmee.

madmaddie Says:


Forever tainted by vegetarian vamps

Paige_Mackenzie Says:


This is such a sweet and sophisticated name!

LowSlash Says:


Read Discworld and the name might be redeemed for you :)

Myosotis Says:


There's a girl in my year called Esme, said Ez-mee, so I think with an accent it's said Ez-may, which I slightly prefer.

emsky Says:


I've heard people say ez-mee when it's spelled without the accent. Is that a legit pronunciation, or is it still supposed to be ez-may?

Lunamonster222 Says:


Twilight kinda ruined this name for me :(

lesliemarion Says:


Esme is lovely, and the perfect antidote to the terrifying Reneesme, or however you spell it.

evalewis Says:


A gorgeous vintage name in tune with today but still rare enough to be special. The perfect combination of feminine, spunky and sweet that is darling for a child but grows up well too.