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