The first formal description of the belted kingfisher was by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae. He introduced the binomial name Alcedo alcyon. 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 alcyon is Latin for "kingfisher".
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