Nausicaä was the young daughter of Alcinoüs whom Odysseus found playing ball with her maids when he was shipwrecked on an island on his way back to Ithaca. Her name seems to mean either 'burner of ships' or 'having ships that burn' (i.e. metaphorically, ships that are superior and conquer), from naus, 'ship' and caio, 'to burn', 'set on fire'. (Her name is also a reminder that English 'nausea' literally means 'boat' sickness.)

Significantly, Nausicaä's brother Clytoneüs (who was also the father of Nauplius) has a name that could mean 'famous ship', from clytos, 'famous' and naus. Samuel Butler, the famous author of Erewhon and The Way of All Flesh, made a detailed study of the Odyssey and claimed that it had been written by Nausicaä! See also Castor, however.