Esme Name Meaning & Origin


Pronunciation: EHZ-may (key)

Origin of the name Esme:

Derived from the French esmé (loved), the past participle of the verb esmer (to love). Alternatively, some believe the name to be a variant of Aimé (beloved).

From A World of Baby Names by Teresa Norman.

Related Names:

Esmé, Esmée, Ismay, Esmeralda

Looking for the perfect name? Try the Name MatchMaker to find the perfect baby name for you!


US Popularity of Esme Over Time

Sister & Brother Names

Know an Esme? What are her siblings named?

Contribute your knowledge to the name Esme

Comments and insights on the name Esme

Originally a male name, Esmé now predominantly female, and is traditionally spelled "Esmé" with an accute é and pronounced correctly as EHZ-may. It can also be spelled "Esmée," or "Esme" without an accent, with the same EHZ-may pronunciation.

The traditional accute é is widely used in French and appears (or previously appeared) on now-common English words such as café, not to mention résumé, sauté, toupée, protégé, cliché, exposé, fiancé/fiancée, and even Beyoncé!

Some in the UK argue that a classic and well-established name like "Esme" could be pronounced as "Esmee" rather than "Esmay"—but most people disagree with this opinion since nobody pronounces "René" or "Renee" as "ren-EE." As a BabyNameWizard blog reader said, "... in Britain there is that very old and honorable tradition of taking Continental names and rendering them 'Anglicized.'"

"Esme" appeared in the top 1,000 baby names in the U.S. in 2010, debuting as the 921st most popular girls' name. It seems to have gotten popular in the U.K. starting in 2007/2008 (source MumsNet forum and personal experience.

Personal experiences with the name Esme

My daughter's name is Esmé, after the lovely young Esmé character in J.D. Salinger's "Nine Stories."
- If people are familiar with Salinger's story they say EHZ-may correctly.
- If people see the name written out or notice the accute "é" indicating the different pronunciation, they say EHZ-may correctly.
- If they are Twilight fans, they also usually pronounce EHZ-may correctly and assume we chose the name from the popular vampire book series. Sorry, but definitely not!
- My mother, Esmé's grandmother, says "it sounds like 'Estée' in 'Estée Lauder,' only it's Esmé." Women who know the makeup line get it immediately.
- We've corrected only a few people who say it with a long e as EHZ-mee, and most of them have been from the U.K.

My sister's name is Esmé (EHZ-may), most people get it here but we have a lot of trouble in American for some reason with pronunciation. It's a beautiful name and we all love it, it just gets annoying when you have to correct people.

My daughter's name is Esmé, and it is, simply, the most beautiful name, unusual, elegant and one of a kind. We receive compliments on her name literally all of the time. She is named after the J.D. Salinger story, "For Esmé, With Love and Squalor, which is one of my favorite short stories of all time. Her brother called her May May before he could pronounce it properly, and we sometimes call her Emme or May or Maisie, but honestly, Esmé is so distinctive, I don't like to call her anything else.

Like many others, I was named after J.D. Salingers book, 'For Esmé with love and squalor', although I have no accent on the e, pronounced ez-me. Despite this, many people pronounce it ezh-may in the UK, so it's like regional accent. I haven't meet another Esme, so I don't have a problem with being 'another Esme', 'Esme no. 2', or having multiples of me (such as the issue with 5 Jordans in my class at school), so it's pretty unique, especially to me.

My name is Esme, pronounced Es-me instead of Es-may. I was named after my Great Aunt, a very traditional English woman (my father is a 1st generation transplant from the UK). This pronunciation is definitely rarer in the US then Es-may. I joke that if someone does not ask me about my name, or mispronounce it (for me) when we first meet I know they are from the UK.

My name is Esme (EHZ-me) as my name isn’t spelt “Esmé” I have always been confused as to why people always pronounce my name as “EHZ-may”. I would say that 80% of people who read my name and don’t know me address me as “EHZ-may”. I think Esmé is a gorgeous name but it does get very annoying when people miss pronounce my name all the time, even after I correct them.

I am called Esmée (I spell it with an accent and I pronounce it EHZ-mee, which I guess isn't really correct since the accented "é" indicates an "ay" sound). Esmée is the original female spelling of the French male name "Esme."

Nicknames for Esme

- Ez/Es
- Ezzie
- Essie
- May
- Maisie
- Mémé (note: this is also the French informal for Grandma!)
- Moo

Meanings and history of the name Esme

The origin is linguistically Old French: esmé (feminine esmée), "esteemed", past participle of esmer, "to esteem." That said, Esmé is not a common name in France.

The original masculine name was carried by the Norman French who came to Scotland in the 12th century by way of England. An early recorded appearance in Scotland is by Esmé Stewart, the 1st Duke of Lennox. In the early 20th century, Esmé became popular among the British. Several subsequent holders of the title Duke of Lennox were named Esmé (pronounced correctly as EHZ-may).

In modern years, the original masculine Esmé has become acceptable as a feminine name. The original feminine version of the name, Esmée, is now given less frequently than does Esmé.

Famous real-life people named Esme

- Actor Anthony Edwards has a daughter named Esme (born in 1997).
- Actress Samantha Morton has a daughter named Esme (born in 2000).
- Actor Michael J. Fox has a daughter named Esmé Annabelle (born in 2001).
- Actress Olivia Williams has a daughter named Esmé (born in 2004).
- Actress Katey Sagal has a daughter named Esmé Louise (born in 2007).

Esme in song, story & screen

- Esmé: The girl in J.D. Salinger's short story, "For Esmé with Love and Squalor."
- Esmé Squalor: Count Olaf's girlfriend and fellow villain in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (one of the many literary references in the book, this time to Salinger's short story).
- Esme Vanderheusen: A character on the now defunct American soap opera, "Passions."
- Euphemia "Esme" Lennox: The title character in the book "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox" by Maggie O'Farrell.
- Esme (Esmerelda) 'Granny' Weatherwax: A character in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
- Esme Cullen: A vampire, the beloved of Carlisle Cullen. A loving and gentle woman, and the caring adoptive mother of Edward, Alice, Rosalie, Emmet, Jasper Cullen in the "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer.
- Singer Joanna Newsom has a song called "Esme" on disc 3 of her 2010 album "Have One On Me."
- Esme Song, character in the Netflix series Degrassi: Next Class
- Esme, one of the Stepford Cuckoos in the X-Men comics

No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way
No Way


No Way


No Way


No Way


No Way


No Way


No Way