Word Origin & History
fem. proper name, generic proper name for a comely rustic maiden in pastoral poetry (1630s), from L. Phyllis, a girl's name in Virgil, Horace, etc., from Gk. Phyllis, female name, lit. "foliage of a tree," from phyllon leaf," from PIE *bholyo- "leaf," from base *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom," possibly
identical with *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (see bole
). In English, often spelled Phillis, probably from influence of phil- "loving." Her sweetheart usually was Philander.