phoe·​nix | \ ˈfē-niks How to pronounce phoenix (audio) \

Definition of phoenix

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a legendary bird which according to one account lived 500 years, burned itself to ashes on a pyre, and rose alive from the ashes to live another period also : a person or thing likened to the phoenix


geographical name
Phoe·​nix | \ ˈfē-niks How to pronounce Phoenix (audio) \

Definition of Phoenix (Entry 2 of 2)

city on the Salt River in Arizona population 1,445,632

Note: Phoenix is Arizona's capital and its most populous city.

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Other Words from phoenix


phoenixlike \ ˈfē-​niks-​ˌlīk How to pronounce phoenixlike (audio) \ adjective

Geographical name

Phoenician \ fē-​ˈni-​shən How to pronounce Phoenician (audio) \ noun

Examples of phoenix in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The infamous back tattoo, a colorful phoenix that takes up the majority of Affleck’s back, made headlines when it was spotted in the summer of 2015 following his divorce from Jennifer Garner. Cady Lang, Time, "Matt Damon Defends BFF Ben Affleck's Right to Tattoo His Own Back However He Wants," 23 Mar. 2018 The skies over the capital were darkened yesterday by the smoke issuing from the Notre-Dame Cathedral, a marvel of Gothic architecture, and a phoenix-like symbol of resilience. Jay Mcinerney, Vogue, "Why, Oh Why Do I Love Paris? Jay McInerney Counted the Ways in a 1986 Story for Vogue, Republished Here in Solidarity With the French Capital, Where Notre-Dame Burned," 16 Apr. 2019 Kendall, on the other hand, rose like a literal phoenix from the ashes. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Kendall and Kylie Jenner Wear Matching Feather Dresses on the 2019 Met Gala Red Carpet," 7 May 2019 The friend-fueled party, which featured Swift smiling among her squad, corroborated her curation of an image as a single, rising phoenix., "What It Means If Taylor Swift Skips Another Fourth Of July Party," 3 July 2018 In Greek mythology, the phoenix is a bird that is constantly reborn, rising from the ashes of its predecessor. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Rhye Reflects on His 'Rebirth,' Talks Directing 'Phoenix' Video With His Girlfriend/Creative Partner," 5 June 2018 People magazine ran a photo of Affleck at the beach with a tattoo of what looks like a colorful phoenix rising from his lower back. Maddie Kilgannon,, "Ben Affleck’s tattoo is apparently real," 18 Mar. 2018 In an Alexander McQueen gown with an embroidered phoenix across its bodice, Bonet was radiant. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet Give a Crash Course in BoHo Couple’s Style," 13 Dec. 2018 Today, more than 30 years after the fire, the Central Library shimmers like a distinctly urban phoenix. Jane Kamensky, WSJ, "‘The Library Book’ Review: The People’s Palace," 11 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phoenix.' 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 phoenix


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phoenix


Middle English fenix, from Old English, from Latin phoenix, from Greek phoinix

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Statistics for phoenix

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for phoenix

The first known use of phoenix was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for phoenix



English Language Learners Definition of phoenix

: a magical bird in ancient stories that lives for 500 years before it burns itself to death and then is born again from its ashes


phoe·​nix | \ ˈfē-niks How to pronounce phoenix (audio) \

Kids Definition of phoenix

: a legendary bird which was thought to live for 500 years, burn itself to death, and rise newborn from the ashes

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More from Merriam-Webster on phoenix

Spanish Central: Translation of phoenix

Nglish: Translation of phoenix for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of phoenix for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about phoenix

Comments on phoenix

What made you want to look up phoenix? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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