Lily Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Last Updated on August 5, 2020 by Kimberly Crawford

Apart from being very versatile as a flower in terms of use, the lily is also one of the most meaningful and symbolic flowers out there.

It is mentioned a lot of times in biblical texts, it appears in Greek mythology specifically to the goddess Hera and of course, it has a multitude of meanings.

If you think you have seen and known everything about the lily, perhaps it is time to look at it in a different light and in this article, we will tell you everything about the lily flower meaning. 

Lily flower fun facts

Lily flower fun facts

Lilies never fall short of anything, not even fun facts. So before we get into the nitty gritty of the lily flower meaning, here are some lily flower fun facts that you might want to know if you will ever grow one. 

  • It belongs to the genus Lillum and it has more than a hundred species. Do not be mistaken though because water lilies are not part of the family. 
  • This flower has the longest in-vase lifespan (up to three weeks!). You can maintain these by gently ripping the pollen off from the center. 
  • Only the tiger and white lily emit fragrance. 
  • While the flower is never toxic to humans, it is for cats specifically. 
  • The lily is considered as a social plant because it can only thrive in groups of three to five. 
  • It is said to have been discovered 2,400 years ago. 

What does the name Lily mean?

In Biblical perspective, the name lily means purity, chastity, commitment and devotion. It is on the top fifty most popular names for baby girls.

Oh and did we mention that since the Hebrews and Egyptians had the name shoshannah for the lily, the names Susan, Sussane/Suzzane, Suzzette and other names within this range also means purity and innocence. 

Lily flower meaning

Lily flower meaning

Although mythology illustrates that the lily flower was borne out of the milk drip from Hera’s refusal to feed Hercules, Zeus’ son from another woman, lily flower meaning is actually profound.

Because it is mostly white, it is associated with purity, commitment and devotion and a symbol of femininity and motherhood. It also represents 30 years of marital commitment. 

Lily varieties with meaning

As is with colors, lily varieties also stand for many symbolisms and meanings. This will come in handy later on when you need to choose which one to get and which one to give as a gift so you have to carefully digest what lily varieties mean individually. 

Tiger lily meaning

Tiger lily flower meaning

This is a favorite lily known for their spots in their petals. This lily is known to symbolize pride, optimism, luck and fortune. 

Calla lily meaning

Calla lily meaning

This lily variety is the one most known for its spiritual symbolism across cultures. In Greece, it is a symbol of beauty while for Christianity, it stands for purity, devotion and faith.

In Europe, it is a symbol of grace and strength because it is able to re-bloom even when it is cut. 

Oriental lily meaning

Oriental lily meaning


It is normally used in weddings and as a celebratory flower. It represents purity, commitment and rebirth and is also usually associated with the Virgin Mary. 

Asiatic lily meaning

Asiatic lily meaning

It is the one that comes with many colors. The white varieties stand for commitment and purity in marriage while orange and yellow varieties are for celebrations of new beginnings. The pink ones are for budding romance and healing.  

Stargazer lily meaning

Stargazer lily meaning

This variety is associated with sympathy, humility and devotion but also of prosperity, fortune and luck. 

Star lily meaning

Associated with the stargazer, it stands for abundance and also wellness. 

Leopard lily meaning

Its red petals and brown spots stand for budding romance and passion. 

Royal lily meaning

Also associated with the fleur de liz, it is known to stand for royalty and privilege. 

Read also: Easter Lily meaning

Etymological meaning of Lily

To the Greeks, lily came from the word leiron while in Latin, it is Lilium which means pure light.

For the Egyptians and Hebrews, it is called Shoshannah which is associated with femininity, fertility but also of commitment, love and passion. Today, Lilium is used to refer to the genus of lily flowers. 

Lily meaning in different cultures and religions

lily flower meaning in countries

You might be surprised by the cultural and spiritual significance of the lily across cultures and religions.

For example, among the Chinese and Japanese, the lily is a traditional symbol of luck.

Additionally, the Chinese use white lilies during weddings as they are associated to 100 years of love and prosperity while the Greeks associate the flower with the purity of motherhood thanks to Hera and the lore that lilies were born out of milk drops from her bosom when she refused to feed Hercules. 

In South America, lilies are symbols of devotion while it means fertility for the Assyrians and Babylonians associated with the goddess Ishtar.

In Christianity, it is associated with the Virgin Mary being Queen of All Angels and the virgin mother of Jesus.

In France, it is associated with God-given royalty and power thanks to King Clovis’ account stating that he saw the Virgin Mary covering lilies with oil. And the fleur de lis, the accented lily, was the emblem of French revolutionaries in 1830. 

Lily tattoo meaning

Lily tattoo meaning

Much can be said about the meaning of lily tattoos depending on the personal intention of the one who had it inked but generally, a lily tattoo symbolizes deep faith in God, as well as innocence and rebirth. 

Lily color meanings

At a general level, lily flower represents purity, royalty, passion and resurrection or rebirth. But of course, these are not all of them because the meanings change depending on the color of the lily flower.

  • White: This is the most popular color for lilies and it stands for sympathy, commitment and purity of love. 
  • Pink: This lily flower color represents undying friendship, compassion, understanding, love and femininity. 
  • Orange: A bright and giddy color, it symbolizes warmth, energy, confidence and also honor. 
  • Red: This one stands for love and passion. 
  • Purple: This has a strong symbolism as it stands for passion, royalty and privilege but also of pride, success, strong admiration and dignity. 
  • Yellow: This one will surely evoke a sense of joy, happiness and lightheartedness. 
  • Black: This lily color stands for elegance and mystery. 
  • Blue: A blue lily flower not only stands for tranquility but also of hope and inspiration. 

Related: Types of blue flowers

Symbolism of the Lily flower

We have already covered that lily is a versatile flower with truly profound symbolisms. Across many cultures, religions and traditions, the lily flower is associated with spirituality, devotion and faith.

Depending on the intention of the giver, it could also symbolize a lot of things including love, compassion, passion, rebirth, happiness, luck, abundance, and wellness. It also stands for innocence and purity; two of the meanings it is famously known for. 

Message of the Lily flower

Reflecting from everything that we have mentioned here, there is an intense meaning behind the lily flower and it revolves around purity. So although various lily colors evoke different meanings, it truly all boils down to the genuineness of the feeling that you want the receiver to have.

Therefore, when given a lily or when it is used, the message of the lily flower must be taken in superlatives. It means the deepest commitment, most unconditional love, deepest faith. That is the message of the lily flower. 

Uses of Lily flower

Aside from being a resilient indoor plant and a versatile gift for almost any event from as jovial as weddings and celebrating promotions and new homes to something as melancholic as funerals, the lily flower is also ever present in medicine use and even traditional cuisines. 

In Asian countries like Japan, China, Bhutan and Mongolia, lily flowers are cultivated as added ingredients to local cuisines ranging from salad bowls, soups and pork dishes to be specific.

In traditional medicine, lily flowers are also widely propagated by South American native groups. They dry the bulbs to make as tea and are known to be potent diuretics and laxatives.

It is also used in treating fever and a wide range of digestive tract disorders, in treating sores and burns and as aid in laboring pregnant women. In present day medicine, lily flowers are processed for its astringent properties that are helpful in treating ulcers and inflammation. 


Lily flower meaning and symbolism

The lily flower is indeed many things. But from here, we should already come into consensus that it deserves all the love and fame it is having.

It is one of the few flowers whose sense of meaning does not only come with the colors they have but also with the individual varieties it has.

This just goes to show how significant it is across cultures, traditions and religions. Aside from this, it also has significant medicinal properties making its flowers not only ornamental or decorative but also medically useful. From these, we have already established why the lily flower deserves all the love in the world.