The word “narcissus” is derived from the Greek word narke, meaning numbness or stupor. Some attribute the naming of the flower to its narcotic fragrance, while others claim that it is associated with the poisonous nature of the narcissus bulbs.

Narcissus is also associated with the Greek legend of a handsome young man named Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a stream and remained there to admire it. When he succumbed to starvation because of his fixation, the gods transformed him into a flower so he could remain at the side of the stream forever.