"a nightingale," 1570s, from Greek Philomēla, the poetic name of the nightingale; probably literally "lover of song," from philos "loving" (see philo-) + melos "a tune, song" (or perhaps "lover of apples," from Greek mela). In mythology, the name of the daughter of Athenian king Pandion who was transformed into a nightingale (Ovid). The earlier form of the name in English, from Chaucer until Spenser's time, was Philomene (late 14c.), from Medieval Latin Philomena, a variant or corruption of Latin Philomela.
updated on May 21, 2020