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noun (1)

phoe·​be ˈfē-bē How to pronounce phoebe (audio)
: any of a genus (Sayornis) of the tyrant flycatcher family
especially : a flycatcher (S. phoebe) of the eastern U.S. that has a slight crest and is plain grayish brown above and yellowish white below


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noun (2)

Phoe·​be ˈfē-bē How to pronounce Phoebe (audio)

Examples of phoebe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Nor are predators limited to the large: bluebirds, phoebes and other insect-catching flycatchers do something quite similar on a smaller scale, pouncing on insects whose existence is to us invisible. Jack Gedney, The Mercury News, 11 Mar. 2024 An Eastern phoebe perched on a cattail stem and an incoming swamp sparrow called from the thick grass. Taylor Piephoff, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 Expect to see resident birds such as the black phoebe, Cassin’s kingbird, California and spotted towhee, song sparrow and red-tailed, red-shoulder and Cooper’s hawks. Kim Janssen, Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2023 Eastern phoebes are in the flycatcher family and consume not just flies but also wasps, grasshoppers and even ticks — great news to those of us who can’t walk in the woods without getting bitten. The New York Times Elaine Chen Emily Anthes, New York Times, 18 May 2023 Reports from Crane WMA in Falmouth included 2 American kestrels, 9 Eastern phoebes, 2 grasshopper sparrows, 18 Eastern towhees, 2 bobolink, 4 Eastern meadowlarks, a dickcissel, and 2 blue grosbeaks., 11 Sep. 2019 Parker River National Wildlife Refuge: Among reports were four Northern shovelers, a Eurasian wigeon, a ruddy duck, a pectoral sandpiper, three American woodcocks, an Eastern phoebe, and a Lapland longspur., 3 Nov. 2019 They are joined by birds such as phoebes and hermit thrushes who have the amazing ability to switch from insect diets to fruits and seeds. Cori Brown,, 7 Sep. 2019 Birds are adaptable and make nests in countless buildings in the city, but not every nesting site has a staff that takes a keen interest in the welfare of the phoebes and their chicks. Weldon Johnson, azcentral, 4 June 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'phoebe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)


Noun (2)

Latin, from Greek Phoibē, from phoibē, feminine of phoibos

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1700, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1567, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of phoebe was in 1567

Dictionary Entries Near phoebe

Cite this Entry

“Phoebe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


phoe·​be ˈfē-bē How to pronounce phoebe (audio)
: any of several American flycatchers
especially : one of the eastern U.S. that has a slight crest and is plain grayish brown above and yellowish white below

More from Merriam-Webster on phoebe

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