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.
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.