Easter Baby Names: The lovely Lily

--and her cousins

By Linda Rosenkrantz

If you’re looking for a name for your Easter season baby, one logical point of departure could be the lily, a prime symbol associated with the resurrection, with rebirth and a new beginning. The white lily known as the Easter Lily has long signified purity, hope, innocence and peace.

Let’s take a long look at Lily, her homegrown and distant variations and noted bearers.

Lily

As one of the coolest and most elegant of the floral names, Lily is a blossom that never seems to wilt, and its symbolic significance only helps to ensure its consistent popularity. Lily also has Greek and Roman mythological ties, associated with Aphrodite and considered to be Juno’s flower. No wonder that over the years, Lily has been both an author and celebrity favorite.

One related name is:

CallaThe Calla lily is a lovely trumpet-shaped white flowering plant. A Greek name meaning beautiful, Calla had a brief period of popularity in the late 19th century, but right now is once again a favorite of the Berries, who rank it at #176. Actress Mare Winningham has an adult daughter named Calla.

Easter, as in Easter lily, has been used occasionally as a first name, but not much since the beginning of the last century.. With Esther returning, maybe Easter could too.

Popularity of Lily

Lily is one of the flower names that became fashionable at the turn of the 20th century, but her greatest popularity came more recently, entering the Top 100 for the first time in 2002 and the Top 20 seven years later, peaking at #15 in 2011. Currently at Number 25, Lily is also in the Top 25 in England and Wales (it was #3 there in 2011), Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Scotland.

Lily names

Other Lil names

Lil—A saucy nickname with a Gay 90s feel, this could conceivably join the other short vintage nicknames starting to be used on their own again.

Lillian/LilianLily’s favorite, somewhat more sedate, cousin dates back to the 16th century, and, although it appears to be an elaboration of Lily, was probably originally a diminutive of Elizabeth. A revived name on the rise, Lillian is now running neck and neck with Lily, just one place behind her– the same spot she held back in 1884. Director Baz Luhrmann has a daughter named Lillian, as does actress Mary McCormack. Characters named Lillian have appeared on TV shows ranging from Gossip Girl to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to The Vampire Diaries.

LilithA name with an intriguing history: in medieval Jewish folklore, Lilith was the first wife of Adam, pre-Eve, who was supposedly turned into a night demon. But its soft, sweet sound is now helping it to overcome that fabled past. Lilith entered the US popularity list in 2010 and now ranks at Number 588 nationally (its highest ever), and is 289 on Nameberry. Lilith was a character on both Cheers and Frasier and frequently appears in fantasy series and comics.

There are a number of other appealing names that also feature Lily’s rhythmic double L sound: Lola, Lolita, Lulu, Lula, Lila, Leila, Layla, Lilac, Lilla

Lily Names

International varieties

Kielo—A Finnish name girls’ name meaning ‘lily of the valley’

Lileas/LiliasTwo spellings of a delicate Scottish form of Lillian; it appeared in The Secret Garden.

LiliaThis is a Spanish form of Lily, also heard in the Russian, Hebrew and Hawaiian communities, which just makes it onto the US popularity list (influenced by a mommy vlogger’s choice), but is more commonly heard in France and England. E.M. Forster used it for a character in Where Angels Fear to Tread.

LilianaThe Italian form, also spelled Lilianna

Liliane is a French version, as is Lis/Lysas in the symbol Fleur de lys, meaning lily flower

Lilika—A cute Greek elaboration of Lily

LiloAnother multicultural cousin, this lively one made familiar via the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch for the Hawaiian girl lead.

LilouA charming and affectionate French diminutive that currently ranks at #12 in France and in the Top 100 in Belgium, and is beginning to attract some US fans. Spelled Leeloo, this sound-alike version was spotted in the 1997 movie The Fifth Element (which happened to be a hit in France).

LilyaA pretty Russian diminutive for several different names, such as Elena and Elizabeta; also a Spanish form of Lillian

Nari means lily in Korean

Shoshanah/ShoshannaIt means lily in Hebrew, is commonplace in Israel and has gotten US exposure via characters in Girls, Weeds, and Inglorious Basterds. The English version is the eternally lovely Susannah/Susanna, now #s 493 and 873 on Nameberry.

YuriIn addition to being the Russian form of George, Yuri is also a Japanese girl’s name meaning lily; Yuriko means lily child.

Real-life Namesakes

The two best-known Lilys at the moment are perennial funny woman Lily Tomlin (born Mary Jean) and singer Lily Allen. Two rising actresses are former Nameberry Starbabies all grown up—Lily Collins, daughter of Phil, and Lily Rabe, daughter of Jill Clayburgh and David Rabe.

Starbabies

A loooonnnnnng list, including Lily-named daughters of Kate Beckinsale, Ed Harris, Harvey Weinstein, Chris O’Donnell, Johnny Depp, Greg Kinnear, Fred Savage and Max Greenfield.

Fictional Namesakes

Among the many, many bearers of the name: Lily Bart, heroine of Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth, Harry Potter’s mother and daughter, characters in The Munsters, The Princess Diaries, Gossip Girl, Modern Family and tons more.

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3 Responses to “Easter Baby Names: The lovely Lily”

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ARhythmofNames Says:

April 13th, 2017 at 11:30 am

I love Lola, Lula, Lilliana, Lilac, Layla, Lila, Lillia, Lilo and Lillian
I also think Lavender, Laurel and Lorelei would be very fitting.

oliviamcdonald Says:

April 15th, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Lily is beautiful but just way too common now. I love all these alternatives which are just as, if not more, beautiful

paulapuddephatt Says:

April 16th, 2017 at 3:55 am

I love Lily, Liliane, Lillian, etc. These names are extremely popular, but still lovely. I also love Susanna, and the variant spelling Suzanna. Susan does also mean “lily”, and I feel that Susan is due a serious revival, in the coming years. Suzanne and Suzette are pretty, too. Susie/Suzy makes a lovely nickname, and seems classic, compared to the dated Sue.

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