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See also: easter



The noun is derived from Middle English ester, Ester, estern, Eestour (Christian festival of Easter; Easter Sunday; Eastertide; Jewish Passover) [and other forms],[1] from Old English ēaster, ēastre (Easter) [and other forms], apparently from Ēastre, Ēostre (Anglo-Saxon goddess (of the dawn?) whose festival was celebrated around the vernal equinox), from Proto-West Germanic *Austrā, from Proto-Germanic *Austrǭ (Proto-Germanic goddess; Easter; springtime), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ews- (dawn; east) or *h₂wes- (to dawn; to dwell, live, reside; to spend the night, stay).[2]

The English word is cognate with German Low German Oostern (Easter), Old High German ōstarūn (modern German Ostern), and is a doublet of east. Despite a modern folk-etymology, not related to Ishtar.

The verb is derived from the noun.[3]



Easter (countable and uncountable, plural Easters)

  1. (Christianity)
    1. A Christian feast commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated on the first Sunday (and Monday) following the full moon that occurs on or next after the vernal equinox, ranging in most of Western Christianity (such as Protestantism and Roman Catholicism) from March 22 to April 25, and in Eastern Christianity (such as the Coptic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church) from April 4 to May 8.
      We spent each of the past five Easters together as a family.
      • 2022 April 15, Applebaum, Anne; Jeffrey Goldberg, quoting Volodymyr Zelensky, “LIBERATION WITHOUT VICTORY”, in The Atlantic[1], archived from the original on 15 April 2022:
        During the Easter season, the Russians are planning “a great battle in Donbas,” the Russian-occupied region in Ukraine’s far east. “This is not Christian behavior at all, as I understand it. On Easter they will kill, and they will be killed.”
    2. Eastertide (the period from Easter to Whitsun).
    3. (specifically, Roman Catholicism, dated, now chiefly figuratively) Usually preceded by an inflection of make: the act of receiving the Eucharist during Easter.
  2. (UK, Ireland, law, education) Ellipsis of Easter term.
  3. (paganism) A festival held in honour of the goddess Eostre or Ostara, celebrated at the vernal equinox or within the month of April; Eostre, Ostara.
  4. (obsolete) The Jewish Passover.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Chickasaw: Iista'


See also[edit]

Proper noun[edit]


  1. A surname.


Easter (third-person singular simple present Easters, present participle Eastering, simple past and past participle Eastered)

  1. (intransitive) To celebrate Easter.
  2. (intransitive) To spend the Easter season in some place.



  1. ^ ēster(n, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ Compare “Easter, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; “Easter, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ Easter, v.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2018.

Further reading[edit]