The first formal description of the crested kingfisher was by the Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1834 under the binomial name Alcedo lugubris. The current genus Megaceryle was erected by the German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup in 1848. Megaceryle is from the Ancient Greek megas, "great", and the existing genus Ceryle. The specific name lugubris is the Latin word for "mournful".
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