The botanic name Lilium is the Latin form and is a Linnaean name. The Latin name is derived from the Greek λείριον, leírion, generally assumed to refer to true, white lilies as exemplified by the Madonna lily. The word was borrowed from Coptic (dial. Fayyumic) hleri, from standard hreri, from Demotic hrry, from Egyptian hrṛt “flower”. Meillet maintains that both the Egyptian and the Greek word are possible loans from an extinct, substratum language of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks also used the word κρῖνον, krīnon, albeit for non-white lilies.
The term “lily” has in the past been applied to numerous flowering plants, often with only superficial resemblance to the true lily, including water lily, fire lily, lily of the Nile, calla lily, trout lily, kaffir lily, cobra lily, lily of the valley, daylily, ginger lily, Amazon lily, leek lily, Peruvian lily, and others. All English translations of the Bible render the Hebrew shūshan, shōshan, shōshannā as “lily”, but the “lily among the thorns” of Song of Solomon, for instance, may be the honeysuckle. Read more