Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Phoebe

Phoebe is the Latin form of the Greek name Phoibē from the Greek word “phoibos” meaning ‘bright’. In mythology, Phoebe was the Titan daughter of Uranus (god of the sky) and Gaia (goddess of the earth) and one of the first rulers of the heavens until being overthrown by Zeus and his Olympian gods. Still, she was a matriarch of many important gods and goddesses. Phoebe had two daughters, Leto and Asteria. Zeus impregnated Leto with the twins Apollo and Artemis, thus making these gods Phoebe’s grandchildren. Asteria was the mother of Hecate (also Phoebe’s granddaughter). Phoebe was known as the goddess of brilliant wisdom and served as a prophetess at Delphi to her grandson Apollo, who is often referred to as Phoebus Apollo (Bright Apollo) after his grandmother. The name became popularized among English speakers after the Protestant Reformation in the 17th century. Today, the name Phoebe is on the Top 100 list of most commonly used girl’s names in the countries of England, Wales, Australia, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

All About the Baby Name – Phoebe

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME PHOEBE

Romance is the hallmark of the Six personality. They exude nurturing, loving, and caring energy. Sixes are in love with the idea of love in its idealized form - and with their magnetic personalities, they easily draw people toward them. Like the number Two personality, they seek balance and harmony in their life and the world at large. They are conscientious and service-oriented, and a champion for the underdog. These personalities naturally attract money and are usually surrounded by lovely material objects - but their human relationships are always primary. They thrive in giving back to others rather than being motivated by their own desires. This is when they achieve great things. Sixes are natural teachers, ministers and counselors.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME PHOEBE

Phoebe has been a name in use for well over 100 years – although only in moderation at best. At the turn of the 20th century, Phoebe was experiencing most of her popularity, but still never trendy and certainly not overused. As the decades persisted into the 20th century, the name Phoebe would fall almost completely from favor. For over 30 years (from the late 1950s to the early 1990s), Phoebe would dance on and off the charts until finally making a moderate comeback today. One of the most significant pushes to the name’s popularity happened between 1994 and 1995 – the year the sitcom “Friends” debuted with the kooky and loveable character Phoebe Buffay. Another jump in the name’s usage came in 1999; the year after “Charmed” was introduced on the WB channel about three good witches and sisters named Phoebe, Prudence and Piper. And if that isn’t enough, the name Phoebe has a lot of literary references as well (aside from her prominence in Greek Mythology). Phoebe was Holden Caulfield's little sister in "The Catcher in the Rye" (J.D. Salinger); she’s a shepherdess in Shakespeare’s comedy “As You Like It” and Phoebe Pyncheon is the name of the bright, beautiful and cheerful character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The House of the Seven Gables”. We have to admit, Phoebe is one of our favorite names. It’s offbeat and quirky, yet bright and spirited. This is an ancient name with a modern sensibility. It is not trendy or tiresome like so many other popular girl names today, and we hope it never becomes so. Just like the name’s meaning suggests – Phoebe is destined to be your little ‘radiant one’.

Quick Facts

ON PHOEBE

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

Greek

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

301

PRONUNCIATION:

FEE-bee

SIMPLE MEANING:

Bright, the radiant one

Characteristics

OF PHOEBE

Humanitarian

Community-minded

Family-oriented

Loving

Affectionate

Compassionate

Sensitive

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Phoebe

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME PHOEBE

Phoebe is Holden’s ten year old little sister in J. D. Salinger’s 1951 classic, The Catcher in the Rye. Idealized by Holden as the smartest, funniest little girl in the world, she truly is a contender for those titles. Holden is out of balance in his world; Phoebe restores it to him by her very sturdy existence in it. Unlike the brother who went out West, or the brother who died, Phoebe is very much here for him. She is the ideal of innocence to her brother, the epitome of the children for whom he would be the catcher in the rye, but at the same time, that innocence is tempered by a very mature awareness of things. It is Phoebe to whom Holden entrusts his secret decision to run away, and it is for her sake that he decides against that action. This is what leads to his beginning the road back to reality: he cannot bear to see his beloved Phoebe suffer for him.

Phoebe Pyncheon is the good and lovely young cousin, indeed a “shining” light through the darkness of the Pyncheon family sins and secrets, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 Gothic novel, The House of the Seven Gables. The old house has a history of its own, fraught with murder and witchcraft, and still exerts a somber gloom over its inhabitants a century and a half later. Phoebe, through her very presence, casts light among the shadows, and helps the older inhabitants by lightening their burdens and cheering their hearts. The past holds sway over the present, and continues taking its toll until the Pyncheons, one and all, break free of the past by literally breaking free of the house, and starting anew.

Popular Songs

ON PHOEBE

Phoebe Cates
a song by Fenix TX [explicit]

For Phoebe Still A Baby
a song by the Cocteau Twins

Famous People

NAMED PHOEBE

Phoebe Cates (actress)
Phoebe Ann Mosey (aka Annie Oakley/famous sharpshooter)
Phoebe Snow (musician)
Phoebe Prince (victim of bullying)
Phoebe Cary (poet)
Phoebe Di Tommaso (figure skater)
Phoebe Tonkin (actress and model)

Children of Famous People

NAMED PHOEBE

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Phoebe

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME PHOEBE

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Phoebe