or phe·nix

See more synonyms for phoenix on
  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a mythical bird of great beauty fabled to live 500 or 600 years in the Arabian wilderness, to burn itself on a funeral pyre, and to rise from its ashes in the freshness of youth and live through another cycle of years: often an emblem of immortality or of reborn idealism or hope.
  2. genitive Phoe·ni·cis [fee-nahy-sis, -nee-] /fiˈnaɪ sɪs, -ˈni-/. (initial capital letter) Astronomy. a southern constellation between Hydrus and Sculptor.
  3. a person or thing of peerless beauty or excellence; paragon.
  4. a person or thing that has become renewed or restored after suffering calamity or apparent annihilation.

Origin of phoenix

before 900; < Latin < Greek phoînix a mythical bird, purple-red color, Phoenician, date palm; replacing Middle English, Old English fēnix < Medieval Latin; Latin as above


  1. Classical Mythology.
    1. the brother of Cadmus and Europa, and eponymous ancestor of the Phoenicians.
    2. a son of Amyntor and Cleobule who became the foster father of Achilles and who fought with the Greek forces in the Trojan War.
  2. a city in and the capital of Arizona, in the central part.
  3. Military. a 13-foot (4 meters), 989-pound (445 kg), U.S. Navy air-to-air missile with radar guidance and a range of over 120 nautical miles.


  1. a state in SW United States. 113,909 sq. mi. (295,025 sq. km). Capital: Phoenix. Abbreviation: AZ (for use with zip code), Ariz.
Related formsAr·izo·nan, Ar·i·zo·ni·an [ar-uh-zoh-nee-uh n] /ˌær əˈzoʊ ni ən/, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for phoenix

Contemporary Examples of phoenix

Historical Examples of phoenix

  • But, before setting out, they all helped Phoenix to build a habitation.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Major Vernon had risen, resplendent as the phoenix, from the ashes of his old clothes.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

  • In that connection he mentions a sharp who lives in Phoenix.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • From this to the hour of a late dinner, the Phoenix Park became his resort.

    Jack Hinton

    Charles James Lever

  • You'll get your ticket as usual and a reservation at the Tycho Hotel in Phoenix.


    Poul William Anderson

British Dictionary definitions for phoenix


US phenix

  1. a legendary Arabian bird said to set fire to itself and rise anew from the ashes every 500 years
  2. a person or thing of surpassing beauty or quality

Word Origin for phoenix

Old English fenix, via Latin from Greek phoinix; identical in form with Greek Phoinix Phoenician, purple


noun Latin genitive Phoenices (ˈfiːnɪˌsiːz)
  1. a constellation in the S hemisphere lying between Grus and Eridanus


  1. a city in central Arizona, capital city of the state, on the Salt River. Pop: 1 388 416 (2003 est)


  1. a state of the southwestern US: consists of the Colorado plateau in the northeast, including the Grand Canyon, divided from desert in the southwest by mountains rising over 3750 m (12 500 ft). Capital: Phoenix. Pop: 5 580 811 (2003 est). Area: 293 750 sq km (113 417 sq miles)Abbreviation: Ariz., (with zip code) AZ
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

Word Origin and History for phoenix

Old English and Old French fenix, from Medieval Latin phenix, from Latin phoenix, from Greek phoinix, mythical bird of Arabia which flew to Egypt every 500 years to be reborn, also "the date" (fruit and tree), also "Phoenician," literally "purple-red," perhaps a foreign word (Egyptian has been suggested), or from phoinos "blood-red." Exact relation and order of the senses in Greek is unclear.

Ðone wudu weardaþ wundrum fæger
fugel feþrum se is fenix hatan

["Phoenix," c.900]

Spelling assimilated to Greek 16c. (see ph). Figurative sense of "that which rises from the ashes of what was destroyed" is attested from 1590s. The city in Arizona, U.S., so called because it was founded in 1867 on the site of an ancient Native American settlement.


1861, originally as the name of a breakaway Confederate region of southern New Mexico; organized roughly along modern lines as a U.S. territory in 1863. From Spanish Arizonac, probably from a local name among the O'odham (Piman) people meaning "having a little spring." Alternative theory is that it derives from Basque arizonak "good oaks."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

phoenix in Culture



A mythical bird that periodically burned itself to death and emerged from the ashes as a new phoenix. According to most stories, the rebirth of the phoenix happened every five hundred years. Only one phoenix lived at a time.


To “rise like a phoenix from the ashes” is to overcome a seemingly insurmountable setback.



Capital city of Arizona.


State in the southwestern United States bordered by Utah to the north, New Mexico to the east, Mexico to the south, and California and Nevada to the west. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix.


The Grand Canyon is in northwestern Arizona.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.