Lily names dot the popularity charts. There’s Lily, of course, a floral favorite. It combines the nature name appeal of River and Willow with the vintage style of Charlotte and Eleanor.
We associate the spring flowers with the Easter season, symbols of purity and virtue. But different varieties carry different meanings, from confidence to good fortune to abundance.
Layer in lots of fictional Lilys, from Edith Wharton’s Lily Bart to How I Met Your Mother’s Lily Aldrin. The name makes an enduring choice for a daughter, familiar across generations.
No question Lily stands on its own. But there are dozens of formal names for Lily. Imports from other languages, longer names that contain the sound, and more can all work with short, simple Lily.
Let’s look at all of the possible Lily names.
POPULAR LILY NAMES
Lily, Lilly, Lillie – Lily is the most common spelling today, but Lillie and Lilly both have a long history of use. Once Lillie topped the charts. Nineteenth century actress turned royal mistress Lillie Langtry remains a captivating figure.
Lillian, Lilian – It looks like lilium, the Latin word for lily, suggesting that Lily comes from Lillian. However, the opposite might be true. It appears that Elizabeth shortened to Lily … and then Lillian evolved from there
Liliana, Lilliana, Lilyana, Lilianna, Lillianna, Lilyanna, Lillyana – Logical elaborations of Lily and Lillian abound, but how do you spell Liliana? Each of these has ranked in the US Top 1000 in recent years.
Lilith – Medieval legend tells of Adam’s first wife. Some versions make Lilith a demon. Others depict her as the archetype of a strong woman. (Hence the name of 90s music festival Lilith Fair.) It’s not related to the flower. Instead, Lilith comes from an Akkadian word meaning “of the night.”
Lilia, Lillia – Drop the ‘n’ from Lillian, and we have a name perfectly in step with current trends, a Lily version of all of those ends with -ia names.
NOT QUITE LILY NAMES
Delilah, Dalilah – The Plain White Tees made Delilah a hit.
Galilea – A name from the Biblical city of Galilee, Galilea also includes the right letters to get to Lily.
Lilac – It’s a different flower entirely, but sounds close to Lily.
Lilou – A Lily-Louise smoosh, Lilou has been big in France. Luc Besson named one of his characters in The Fifth Element Leeloo. The 1997 hit movie boosted the name.
IMPORTED LILY NAMES
Liliosa – The name of a ninth century Spanish martyr and another name directly related to the lily flower. It might shorten to Lola, too.
Lileas, Lilias – Liliosa is the Spanish; this is the Scottish.
Lilica, Lilika – Another rarity, Lilika might be Slavic.
Liliane – The French Liliane is the given name of actor Leelee Sobieski.
Lillemor – A Scandi borrowing, Lillemor means “little mother.” That’s a cozy meaning, but this name reads elegant.
Lillevi – A modern Swedish invention, Lillevi means “little” and “devoted” or possibly “fighter.” Cool sound, strong meaning – what’s not to love?
Lilwen – A Welsh name, Lilwen marries the best of the Lily names with the Welsh Gwen and company. If Arwen and Eowyn appeal, this name might also belong on your list.
Lilikoi – From the Hawaiian name for the passion fruit.
Lilinoe – Hawaii isn’t exactly a foreign country, but Lilinoe feels like an import. It means “fine mist.”
Lilavati – A Sanskrit name that means charming, Lilavati is rare but accessible.
UNCONVENTIONAL FORMAL NAMES
Elizabeth – Do we really need another nickname for Elizabeth? There are scads! And yet, Lily started out as a short form of this venerable classic.
Elinor – If Elizabeth can lead to Lily, why not Elinor? The ‘li’ is right there, just as with Elizabeth.
Lilibet, Lilibeth – It might be a Lily-Beth smoosh, or a slimmed down version of Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth II was known as Lilibet as a young girl.
Lilliet – Choose your spelling! Thanks to LV51sfan91 for suggesting this Lily-Juliet mash-up.
Lilliandil – A character from CS Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lilliandil reigns as Queen of Narnia. But here’s a twist: Lewis didn’t name her. Not until the 2010 film adaptation did the character receive a name. It’s rarer than rare, but has potential.
Tigerlily – An unusual floral name, part-smoosh and part-bloom. If you’re looking for a fierce spin on a girls’ nature name, Tigerlily might be the one.
What are your favorite Lily names?
First published August 16, 2013, this post was revised substantially and updated on April 26, 2020 and again on June 2, 2021.
I knew a Tigerlily. Such a pretty name! Her friends called her Tiger. I feel like the Peter Pan association might be too automatic, though.
I think that some people may like the image, as I personally do. She was a feminist, who turned evil because she was unfairly treated. Lilith was a favorite for a while. If Delilah can be the most popular D name for girls, why not Lilith? She deserved better, and I honestly appreciate the strong role model.
Submitting the rare name of Lillica / Lilika.
Love that – thanks!
I came across Lilliet today. It’s a combination of Lily and Juliet:)
If I ever have another daughter I will name her Lily:) I’m a huge Munsters fan & would love a middle name meaning white.
I just don’t understand how anyone could use the name Lilith. Maybe I’m superstitious, but she was a demon that killed babies before she was ever Adam’s first wife (and people usually forget that part about the story/parody too), so why would you want to name your child after her. Honestly, anyone that considers the name should really check out http://feminism.eserver.org/theory/papers/lilith/ The author did a fantastic job at laying out when the demon first appeared in order and the culture around each text.
caira of legend says
O.O creepy, i didnt know that
There’s also Líle, said LEE-leh
My family has always called me lili. Because of the “Li” in Lidia.
Deborah C Wilkin says
I like that, ! I’m trying to lily from Louise, not having much luck, but that was encouraging!
It’s pronounced As-oo-SAY-nuh.
Azucena is another lily name. It means “lily” in Spanish.
Another import is the Scandinavian Lillemor. It means literally “little mother”, but I’ve always liked the way it feels like a smush of Lilly and Eleanor.
Lillemor is lovely – thanks for the addition!
Liliosa is fabulous. I saw Lilevi once in a birth announcement, but I can’t find much about her.
If I had a Lily, her nickname would be Lilou. So cute.
Lilevi is Swedish. Lill “little” + Vi “fighter”
Thank you – a great find for this list!
I discovered Liliosa recently and I’m so in love with it, but something about it feels hard to pull off to me. I like the idea of it as a middle name to spice up a first name that’s a bit plainer, though. Jane Liliosa?
I love Galilea too. I think it’s so pretty. I saw that it had broken into the top 1000 in 2011, but I hadn’t realized that it was reentering and that it had been on the fringe for a while. It’s mostly used in the Spanish-speaking community, I think? It’s gorgeous.
Lilias/Lileas is one of those names that I always think should be more popular in the name nerd community than it is. Might just be me.
Jane Liliosa is gorgeous! I like Katherine Liliosa, too.
This is a great list! I really like many of these, but my favorites are Lillian, Lilwen, and Tigerlily.
One I would add to the list would be Lilas.
A good addition – thanks!
Many vampire stories incorporate Lileth into the history of how vampires came into being — most recently on HBO’s True Blood. That kind of kills the name for me. She was also Fraser Krane’s horrible, nasty wife on Cheers and then later on Fraser so I have never found the name appealing.
Although not quite a “Lily”, my mother-in-law’s middle name is Lelane (has a simiilar sound to some of the names feautured in today’s post) which I have never heard on anyone but her and have always meant to ask Nana where she got it from.
Lelane is fascinating – a smoosh of Lisa and Elaine?
Fair point about Lilith/vampire lore.