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[fil-uh-mee-luh] /ˌfɪl əˈmi lə/
Classical Mythology. an Athenian princess who was raped by her brother-in-law Tereus and was subsequently avenged and transformed into a nightingale.
(lowercase) philomel.


or philomela

[fil-uh-mel or fil-uh-mee-luh] /ˈfɪl əˌmɛl or ˌfɪl əˈmi lə/
noun, Literary.
the nightingale.
Origin of philomel
1350-1400; earlier Philomele, Philomela (< Middle French philomèle) < Latin Philomēla < Greek Philómēla Philomela; replacing Middle English Philomene < Medieval Latin Philomēna, dissimilated variant of Philomēla Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Philomela
Historical Examples
  • Philomela was changed, at her own prayer, into a nightingale that she might escape the vengeance of her brother-in-law Tereus.

    Milton's Comus John Milton
  • The least eccentric orbit in the group is that of Philomela ; the most eccentric that of thra .

    The Asteroids Daniel Kirkwood
  • In Book V the description of a painting in a studio depicting the rape of Philomela had “a hidden significance.”

    Essays on the Greek Romances Elizabeth Hazelton Haight
  • Philomela regarded him for a moment with an expression of pity and horror.

    Round the Block John Bell Bouton
  • Not to have known the hope is blameless: one may sing, unknowing, as the swan, or Philomela.

  • Jim Hicks told me this afternoon that 'Philomela' was by Shakspere.

    The Plastic Age Percy Marks
  • As the boat regained her speed, Philomela Brooks approached him.

  • Of all the singers in the woodland choir the Nightingale (Luscinia Philomela), by common consent, stands first.

    The Ornithology of Shakespeare James Edmund Harting
  • It is to win the love of Philomela that the male nightingale studies, watches, and pours forth his soul in song.

  • Philomela (Philome′la) was a daughter of Pandion, king of Athens, who was transformed into a nightingale.

British Dictionary definitions for Philomela


(Greek myth) an Athenian princess, who was raped and had her tongue cut out by her brother-in-law Tereus, and subsequently was transformed into a nightingale See Procne


poetic names for a nightingale
Word Origin
C14 philomene, via Medieval Latin from Latin philomēla, from Greek
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Philomela



"nightingale," late 14c., from Greek Philomela, poetic name of the nightingale, in mythology the daughter of Pandion, transformed into a nightingale; probably literally "lover of song," from philos "loving" + melos "a tune, song;" but perhaps "lover of apples" (Greek mela). In the myth, proper name of Pandion's daughter, who was turned into a nightingale (Ovid).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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