baby name EstelleThe baby name Estelle is a vintage gem with a shining meaning. After years of being eclipsed by similar choices, it might be Estelle’s time to shine once more.

Thanks to Toni for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day and Kathleen for requesting an update.


The baby name Stella returned to the US Top 1000 in 1998, and steadily climbed in use. By 2010, it entered the US Top 100. It’s still there, well over a decade later, a staple choice for a daughter.

Stella succeed for so many reasons: it followed similar names like Bella and Ella up the charts. Popular culture gave us plenty of celebrities choosing the name. And the meaning, fit, too, at a moment when parents were attracted to nature names and night sky favorites.

But the story of Stella can’t be told without talking about an entire cluster of starry choices.


During the late 19th century, Estelle, Stella, and Estella all charted in the US Top 1000.

They all come from the Latin stella, meaning star.

It might have first been used as a given name in Aquitania, then part of Gaul; now knon as southern France. Legend tells that, in the third century AD, the daughter of a powerful pagan family converted to Christianity. When she refused to recant, Estelle died a martyr. She’s been considered a saint, and the patron saint of girls, ever since.

Saint Estelle’s feast day is celebrated on May 11th, but little of her story is known beyond these broad details.

Estelle is slightly similar to Esther, an Old Testament name possibly meaning star. But Esther’s origins are Persian. So any similarity to Estelle is coincidental, though it’s easy to imagine someone misunderstanding Estelle as a French form of Esther.

While Estelle was not known in the English-speaking world during the Middle Ages, various forms have been used in parts of the world ever since.


In fact, various versions of the name have popped up in history and literature for centuries, including:

  • Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney penned Astrophel and Stella in 1581.
  • Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations included character Estella Havisham, Pip’s crush with a heart of ice. It’s been adapted multiple times as a movie, most recently in 1998, with Gwyneth Paltrow in the role of Estella.
  • Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire immortalized Stella as a long-suffering, down-on-her-luck Southern belle. Marlon Brando’s legendary scream “Stella” in 1951’s movie version remains unrivaled cinematic legend.
  • The Ronettes scored a series of hits in the 1960s. Veronica “Ronnie” Spector was the breakout star, but her older sister Estelle Bennett was also one of the founding members.
  • Australian model, musician, and activist  Estelle Asmodelle was well known in the 1980s for her personal history, though in recent years, she is focused on academic work in astronomy and physics.
  • Comedian Estelle Getty enjoyed a long career as an actress. Later in life, she was best known for playing Golden Girls matriarch Sophia Petrillo.
  • TV show Seinfeld gave us Estelle Costanza, mother to George – played by actress Estelle Harris. And on another small screen staple, Friends, Joey’s barely competent agent was Estelle Leonard.
  • Back in 2003, another TV series used the name: ITV’s Fortysomething profiled couple Paul and Estelle, along with their children and extended circle. It wasn’t a hit, but is noteworthy because it helped launch the career of Benedict Cumberbatch, who played their eldest son.
  • British singer and actress Estelle also puts the name on expectant parents’ radar, especially following her 2008 hit “American Boy.”


For another high profile Estelle, we turn to the Swedish throne.

Born in 2012, Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary is the eldest daughter of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden. She holds the title Duchess of Östergötland. Thanks to a change in succession laws, she’s also the first born female heir apparent in Swedish history.

It was an unusual choice for the Swedish royal family. Speculation suggested that she was named for Countess Estelle Bernadotte.

American-born heiress Estelle Manville married into the Swedish royal family and served as an advocate for causes like the International Red Cross. Her husband, Count Folke Bernadotte, served as a mediator for the United Nations. He was assassinated while working in Jerusalem in 1948.

Regardless of the reasons the royals chose Estelle for the future queen, the name has gained steadily in popularity since her birth.


The baby name Estelle is growing in use in the United States, too.

In the year 2000, just 63 girls received the name. By 2022, there were over 400 newborn Estelles.

That’s many fewer than Stella, of course, and behind Estella, too. Though romance language Estela, heard in Spanish and Portuguese, remains the least-used. Instead, Estrella – the Spanish word for star – is closer to Estelle in terms of use. The sometimes seen Estell has fallen out of use since the middle of the twentieth century.

It all suggests that Estelle has plenty of potential for revival.

After all, baby girl names like Gabrielle, Annabelle, and Isabelle have had a good run. Easy nicknames, like Elle and Ellie, also help.

Since returning to the US Top 1000 in 2012, Estelle has reached the Top 800 names in the US. Still miles to go, but no longer stuck in style limbo.

If you’re looking for a vintage name with a quietly Frnech vibe, Estelle is far less expected than Vivienne or Genevieve.

With a shining, night sky meaning and a strong, established sound, the baby name Estelle could be poised to return to the spotlight.

What do you think of the baby name Estelle?

First published on May 11, 2009, this post was substantially revised and re-published on January 2, 2024.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I know a teen Estelle. She goes by Essie (which can get a little confusing with all the Tess/Tessies). I think it’s lovely, very elegant. Not old ladyish at all to me.

  2. My daughter is Vivienne Estelle. I love it so much! I have only recently began to regret it because I’d love to use Estelle as a first name if I had another daughter!

  3. I just named my daughter Estelle this past summer and I love the name. We call her Elle or Ellie for short. It is old fashioned, but those names seem to be coming back around and I love that Estelle isn’t super popular (as of right now). Ironically if you asked me about the name a few years ago I probably would have never warmed up to it, but I think it’s beautiful and classy and when I look at my daughter the name just fits!