Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Hester

Hester is the Latin form of Esther – a name borne from the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament). In the Bible, Esther was a Jewess living in the Persian capital city of Susa (the Jewish people had been exiled from Jerusalem during the reign of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II); she would eventually become the wife of Ahasuerus, the king of Persia in the 5th century B.C. Her story is recounted in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) in the aptly named Book of Esther. Readers are introduced to Esther’s “real” name Hadassah (which is the Hebrew word for “myrtle”, a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region), but this name is only used once (in Esther 2:7) before being immediately translated to Esther (which is a translation of the Persian word for “star”). Suffice it to say, it was safer for exiled Jews to assimilate with Persian names rather than their Hebrew birth names. As the story unfolds, we learn that Ahasuerus (the Persian king) rid himself of his first wife after she publically disobeyed him. In an effort to find a replacement wife, the king decides to hold a regional “beauty pageant”. In preparation for the big contest, all the beautiful virgins from all the provinces throughout the Persian Empire were gathered in Susa, they were given cosmetics and beauty treatments for a year, and tutored in court etiquette by one of the king’s eunuchs. According to Esther 2:7, Esther herself “had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at” so she too was taken into custody where she quickly won the goodwill of the king’s eunuch. Guess which “star” contestant wins the pageant? That’s right, Esther (after winning the king’s favors in the bedroom, that is). And so Esther became the Queen of all the Persian Empire all the while keeping her Jewish heritage a secret. Eventually, at the urging of her cousin Mordecai and on behalf of her own people, Esther risks it all by appearing in the king’s chambers uninvited. She uses her acuity, perception and persuasion to save a large number of Jewish people throughout the Persian Empire from the evil Haman, one of the King’s highest court officials, who was hell-bent on exterminating the Jewish people throughout the kingdom. Her courageous acts are celebrated during the Jewish holiday known as Purim. Besides Ruth, Esther is the only Biblical Book named after a woman. Go ladies! Furthermore, it is a wonderful narrative filled with political satires, literary irony and nail-biting plot twists. It’s no wonder that Esther has been a favorite name among Jews for centuries. She was one beautiful, brilliant and brave ancient gal. As mentioned previously, Esther’s birth name (Hadassah) comes from the Hebrew word for “myrtle” – a bush whose leaves release their fragrance only when they are crushed. This is fitting, you see, because Esther’s true heroism was released once her people were in terrible danger. Esther comes from an Old Persian word (stāra) some believe to mean “star” while others hold that it also means “myrtle”. Some say the name translates to “secret, hidden” given that Esther hid the fact that she was Jewish. Lastly, there is a school of thought that Esther is a Hebrew form of the name “Ishtar” – the goddess of love and sexuality in Babylonian mythology (Greek counterpart: Aphrodite; Roman counterpart: Venus). Given Esther’s successful beauty pageant career and her feminine wiles with the king in his chambers, this proposed meaning of her name is not exactly a stretch of the imagination. The name Esther has always been a favorite among Jews in particular, but it has enjoyed popularity among Christians throughout Europe. Some variations of the name in other languages include: Estée (French); Ester (Spanish); Estera (Polish), and Yesfir (Russian). Hester is the Latin form of Esther adopted by the Puritans after the Reformation. It was the Puritans who brought the name to colonial America.

All About the Baby Name – Hester



The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.



The last year Hester made an appearance on America’s Top 1000 list of female names was in 1950. In other words, this is a name that’s been out of circulation for over 60 years. Note to parents looking for a long neglected name. Our data only dates back to 1880, but no doubt Hester has been around long before that. The Puritans – and other nonconformist Christian sects – arrived in America starting in 1620. They brought the name Hester with them almost four hundred years ago. Not surprisingly, Nathaniel Hawthorne chose the name Hester Prynne for his well-known protagonist in the 1850 novel “The Scarlet Letter” – one of the first female heroines of American literature. Although written in the 19th century, The Scarlet Letter takes place in the 17th century Puritan settlement of Boston, Massachusetts. Hester will always make us think of colonial America – akin to other popular 17th century Puritan favorites like Abigail, Hannah, Jerusha, Rebecca, Sarah, Leah and Priscilla. Even at the turn of the 20th century Hester was still almost a Top 200 choice on the charts – demonstrating her lengthy staying power and appeal. Alas, though, Hester would finally fall from her perch as the decades progressed into last century. Slow and steady her once bright “star” would fade away until finally disappearing in 1950. Yet we say this: if Hattie and Hazel are showing upwards momentum on the charts today, then why not Hester? She’s got the same old-fashioned charm in our opinion.

Quick Facts













Myrtle, star, secret, Ishtar










Cultural References to the Baby Name – Hester

Literary Characters


Hester Prynne is the protagonist in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic 1850 novel, The Scarlet Letter. Set in Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony, the novel tells the story of the harsh penance set to Hester for the punishable crime of adultery, and traces her eventual coming to terms with her soul’s redemption on her own terms. Shunned by society, and without any support either from her husband or from her baby’s father, Hester ekes out a living for herself and her child. In addition, she tends to the poor and sick in the community, and contemplates the whys and wherefores of her lot in life. All this she does with dignity and without complaint, but indeed, in an aura of selfless pride in her own person. In the end, it is Hester who stands above the crowd, almost saint-like in her calm acceptance of her fate and in her determination to make a life for herself and her daughter regardless of the constrictions of her time and place. Hester is a woman whom any 21st century person should be proud to call “sister”.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Hester

Popular Songs


We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Hester

Famous People


Hester Thrale (18th/19th century Welsh author/historian and patron of the arts)
Hester Chapone (18th century American writer of "conduct" books for women)

Children of Famous People


We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Hester

Historic Figures


We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Hester