Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Lily

Like Rose and Violet, Lily is a flower name. The word comes from the Latin “lilium” (a lily) which was borrowed from the Greek “leírion” meaning the same. The interesting thing about the word “lily” is that it ultimately originated from a non Proto-Indo-European source; in this case Egyptian. The Egyptian root “sšn” or “seshen” represented the “lotus”, a flower of utmost symbolic importance to ancient people of Egypt. The lotus flower closes and sinks underwater at night, and then rises and blossoms again at dawn (representing the sun, creation and rebirth). The Hebrews borrowed the word from the Egyptians as “shoshannah” (שׁוֹשַׁנָּה) meaning “lily” and the ancient Greeks first used “souson” from the same place. The Hebrew Shohanna gave us the names Susanna, Susan, Suzette, etc (all meaning “lily”, too). They are all related to the ancient Egyptian “lotus”; the later Greek and Latin words for the lily flower were essentially a corruption of the earlier words. In 16th century England, the word “lily” also developed into an adjective meaning “pure, white, lovely” and later “pale, colorless” (as in lily-livered). The Lily plant is a large, elegant and showy garden flower. The ancient Greeks believed they sprouted from the milk of Hera (queen of the gods). As Christianity flourished in the early first centuries A.D., the lily flower became associated with the purity and chastity of the Virgin Mother. Lilies are also a common funeral flower symbolizing innocence restored after death. Naming baby girls after flowers became quite fashionable among English-speakers in the 19th century. This naming style eventually diminished in popularity in the later 20th century but is currently enjoying a revival. Lily is by far the most popular of the flower names today. It’s hugely trendy in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Ireland. It’s a Top 20 favorite in Australia, Canada and the United States; and it fares quite well in France and Belgium.

All About the Baby Name – Lily



The Master Number Twenty-Two combines the traits of Twos and Fours into a powerful force. The references to The Master Builder and "large undertakings" serve to underscore the massive potential of this personality. They are extremely capable and therefore almost always successful. Twenty-Twos are courageous leaders, innovative thinkers, extremely wise and highly organized. As such, they are able to manifest something of major importance that will have a lasting impact on this world. Master Numbers carry with them a great sense of responsibility, so it can be a burden. However, Twenty-Twos are executors and action-takers. Further, this personality exhibits traits of the Twos, which brings sensitivity, spirituality and harmony, so their endeavors are likely to benefit mankind in some capacity.



The name Lily has been in use in America for over a century, enjoying moderate popularity at the turn of the 20th century. Starting in the 1920’s, however, the name began to lose its status on the charts and all but disappeared by the 1960’s. Lily limped back onto the charts starting in the 1970s and 80s, but her true success has come in the 21st century. Lily landed on the Top 100 list for the first time ever in 2002, and then in 2009, she became a Top 20 favorite for baby girls. Her charming, delicate sound provides for an ultra-feminine and super flowery given name. The name also has many variants (Lillie, Lilly, Lillian) and is paired nicely with other names (Lily-Ann, Lily-May, Lily-Rose). It should be noted, however, that Lillian and Lillie developed as a pet form and diminutive of Elizabeth. Lily is specifically the name of a flower. It could also be considered a lovely name choice for baby girls born in May, since the lily is the May birth flower.

Quick Facts













Lily flower (pure, innocent)



The Master Builder


Large Undertakings




Cultural References to the Baby Name – Lily

Literary Characters


Lily Bart is the heroine of Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel, “The House of Mirth.” The book explores the rigid social mores of the early 1900’s through its protagonist Lily Bart. An orphan who is taken in by “barely” wealthy relatives, Lily seeks to raise her status and security in society by marrying rich. On the outskirts of this well-to-do society into which she aspires, Lily is a beautiful, smart, witty and cunning woman – adept at playing the games of her social order. And yet she sabotages all of her prospects of marrying wealthy and living the luxurious life she so desires – as she is torn between the emptiness of her object and the need for true love and respect.

Lily Owens is the narrator of Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Secret Life of Bees” (2002). Lily is a fourteen-year-old white girl in 1964, searching for her identity through her deceased mother's past. Lily is constantly tormented by her abusive father whom she refers to as T. Ray. They have a black maid, Rosaleen, who acts as a surrogate mother to Lily. Despite her troubles, Lily is very creative and daydreams of ways to escape her station in life, whether it’s getting to be a popular girl by going to "Manners School" or becoming a famous writer.

Lily Potter is Harry's mother in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series of popular books. She sacrificed herself to save Harry from Voldemort; Harry can hear her screams when Dementors are near. Lily was one of the brightest students of her time, and one of the "all-time favorite students" of Horace Slughorn. Horace describes her as vivacious, charming, brave, and "very funny." Lily had a natural and intuitive ability at Potions. She was named a prefect in her fifth and sixth years at Hogwarts, and became Head Girl in her seventh year.

Popular Songs


Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
by Joan Baez

Dixie Lily
a song by Elton John

Rock A Little (Go Ahead Lily)
a song by Stevie Nicks

Pictures of Lily
a song by The Who

Lily of the Valley
a song by Queen

Lily (My One And Only)
a song by Smashing Pumpkins

Lily of the West
a song by Joan Baez

a song by Joan Baez

Have You Seen The Bright Lily Grow
a song by Sting

Famous People


Lily Tomlin (actress/comic)

Children of Famous People


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

Historic Figures


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