small North American flycatcher, the peewit, 1700, phebe, so called in imitation of its cry; the spelling was altered (1839) by influence of the woman's proper name Phoebe.
fem. proper name, originally (late 14c.), a name of Artemis as the goddess of the moon, also the moon itself (mid-15c.); from Latin Phoebe, from Greek Phoebē, from phoibos "bright, pure," a word of unknown origin. The fem. form of Phoebus, an epithet of Apollo as sun-god. Phoebe, a notable figure in the early Church, is mentioned in Romans 16:1-2. Most popular as a given name for girls born in the U.S. in the 1880s and 2010s.