noun (1)
phoe·​be | \ ˈfē-bē How to pronounce phoebe (audio) \

Definition of phoebe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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


noun (2)
Phoe·​be | \ ˈfē-bē How to pronounce Phoebe (audio) \

Definition of Phoebe (Entry 2 of 2)

Examples of phoebe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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., "Recent bird sightings on Cape Cod (as of Sept. 3) as reported to the Massachusetts Audubon Society.," 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., "Most read on," 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,, "Cori Brown: Nature signals a time to recharge," 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, "Arizona hidden gem: A lush birding oasis is just moments from downtown Phoenix," 4 June 2019 In 2011, a U.S. attorney in North Dakota charged Hamm with a criminal misdemeanor after a Say’s phoebe got stuck and died in a pond of oil waste. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: Ryan Zinke's move is not for the birds, say 17 former Interior officials," 12 Jan. 2018 In 1804, a young naturalist named John James Audubon tied silver threads to the legs of the eastern phoebes, tiny white-and-brown songbirds, that lived in a nest near his home near Philadelphia. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The Golden Age of Animal Tracking," 20 Sep. 2017 DEAR JOAN: Last summer a neighbor removed some evergreens and several displaced black phoebes found their way to our yard. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Why won’t the bird use the nice bird house?," 14 Mar. 2017 A phoebe is a kind of bird, and my little girl also happened to arrive 8 weeks before her due date, making her a true early bird. Liz Krieger, Town & Country, "Why "Birdie" is the New "Muffy"," 10 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phoebe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of phoebe

Noun (1)

1700, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1567, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phoebe

Noun (1)


Noun (2)

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

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Cite this Entry

“Phoebe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for phoebe


phoe·​be | \ ˈfē-bē How to pronounce phoebe (audio) \

Kids Definition of phoebe

: a small grayish brown bird that eats flying insects

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