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I'm trying to write a webnovel that involves mythical creatures. I want to include Dragons, Angels, and Demons, and the problematic Phoenixes.

The problem I am facing is that there is no corresponding word that means "of a phoenix", like how the other three have the terms "Draconic", "Angelic", and "Demonic". The first word that came to mind was "Phoenician", but an online search gave vague results.

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    Reminder: answer in answers, not in comments. Comments don't have the quality assurance mechanisms that answers do. – V2Blast Aug 28 '18 at 18:24
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    When a question attracts a long list of ideas, that is a clear signal that either the criteria are unclear or the question is being interpreted as more of a poll or request for a list of things, neither of which are a good fit for the Stack Exchange model. It will help to make clear in the body of your question that you are asking whether "phoenician" can mean "of a phoenix", and consider rewriting your second paragraph so that it does not seem to open the question up to opinions. – MetaEd Aug 28 '18 at 18:35
  • Related but not duplicate: Are phoenix and Phoenician cognate? – Mitch Aug 29 '18 at 12:40
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Perhaps you should trust your instincts. If phoenician floats your fictional boat, who are we to say it is wrong?

Using phoenician to refer to phoenixes makes just as much sense as using it to refer to people from Phoenix, Arizona... and yet (capitals aside) people do just that, probably as it is intuitive, vaguely pleasing in its (old) Old World pretensions, and the meaning is abundantly clear from the context, much as it would be in yours.

While phoenician definitely isn't dictionary-correct, in a fictional context I think you could certainly argue for artistic licence, especially if the dictionary isn't yielding something suitable.

I can see the need for an in-world word for "pertaining to phoenixes" and phoenixlike would, quite obviously, mean something different.

Also, there might be an etymological basis for making the link between Phoenicia and phoenixes - they may well be cognates - not that etymology should really sway you one way or another. (See this question for further details.)

Also there are some really good suggestions for alternatives in the comments to your question (where tchrist has helpfully mined the OED for you) and in other answers.

But it's your decision: your world, your nomenclature.

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  • I am not sure about the etymo link “Identical with phoenix (q.v.), but the relationship is obscure.” etymonline.com/word/phoenician but this answer may be misleading to some extent. Phoenician, apart from the similar spelling, doesn’t convey the meaning requested. Any poetic license would just be a personal views on the matter. – user067531 Aug 28 '18 at 15:08
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    Phoenician does refer to a well known group of historical people which will likely trip up the average reader if used to refer to something entirely different. Certainly you can call artistic license to use it for phoenix anyway... in the same way you can call artistic license on any string of characters in a text you're writing. It's less of a question if the asker can, but rather if they should use it that way. – Cubic Aug 28 '18 at 15:13
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    @Cubic It's down to the writer to establish it properly, whatever word they might choose. I'm really saying there isn't a definitive answer here or anywhere, and that I might think phoenician is a good fit isn't the main point. Having said that, repurposing familiar words for new purposes is something that writers have been known to do - how well it is done, and whether or not it trips readers up, is a matter of craft that doesn't rest on one word choice alone. (Besides, the capitalisation of phoenician might be different and we take all kinds of contextual clues in when reading!) – tmgr Aug 28 '18 at 15:35
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    "people do just that, "- well, probably about 2 million people maximum do that (estimate based on the population of the city). The rest of the world, not so much. (As an old world resident, I would probably start by wondering "where's Arizona...") – alephzero Aug 28 '18 at 15:39
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    @alephzero Old World here too. It's not a demonym with particularly wide currency, I'll admit... but I do not begrudge the people of Phoenix their airs and graces, and desire to be ranked among those with their own fancy word, like the Oxonians and Cantabrigians. – tmgr Aug 28 '18 at 15:50
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As others mentioned, the term "Phoenician" already has a different meaning. I'm not aware of official words for "of the phoenix", but perhaps "Phoenic" could do as a made-up word. It has the same "ic" ending and draconic, angelic, etc.

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You could go with phoenixlike

adjective

having a resemblance to a phoenix in the sense of re-emerging and beginning again

  • They create productive, phoenixlike new ventures and initiatives

adverb

in a re-emerging and rejuvenated manner like that of a phoenix

  • Nixon's potential rehabilitation rests and continues, phoenixlike, to grow

Some synonyms

sempiternal

everlasting; perpetual; eternal

or

amaranthine

unfading or undying

Phoenician refers specifically to

A member of a Semitic people inhabiting ancient Phoenicia and its colonies. The Phoenicians prospered from trade and manufacturing until the capital, Tyre, was sacked by Alexander the Great in 332 BC.

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    "Phoenix-like" doens't work. The asker wants a word that means "of the phoenix", not "resembling a phoenix". – David Richerby Aug 28 '18 at 15:55
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'Phoenician', while morphologically the logical adjectival version of 'phoenix' (they are etymologically related), does not evoke the bird at all in modern usage.

'Phoenician' will most likely only evoke the ancient Mediterranean civilization, possibly their language, or sometimes as a demonym for people from Phoenix, Arizona. Context would disambiguate these.

There are archaic/rare uses of 'phoenician' meaning bright red (like the bird) but the usual (still archaic/rare) term for that is

phoeniceous

(both can be found in the OED).

Since you are creating labels for an invented thing, I'd recommend not using 'phoenician' because that is so strongly associated with the people. Using 'phoeniceous' will force people to think about what it means, and everyone will realize what you are trying to do (avoid the adjective for the people) and understand it as the adjective form for the bird.


One may think that, since many animal types get their adjectives (bovine for cows, feline for cats, etc), that bird types would get similar treatment. And they do. This veers off more into culture because all those '-ine' words were actual neologisms that happened to catch on. Similar terms for bird types were invented (anserine for geese, corvine for crow) but for the most part those haven't really caught on outside scientific terminology. Except for maybe:

aquiline

which is metaphorical for the eagle's-beak shape of a nose.

Note that other birds get by with adding '-like': duck-like, goose-like, crow-like (if their scientific versions aren't available to you or your listeners). If you must follow this particular pattern, the word would be

phoenicine

but I personally find that infelicitous. 'Phoeniceous' feels better.

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Depending on how creative, innovative or ironic you want to be in your novel you might consider using

Phoenicious or phenicious

although perhaps you run into problems with its generally accepted first meaning: "of a red color with a slight mixture of gray", see https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Phenicious.

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    The full OED includes the (obsolete, rare) zoological adjective phoenicurous, defined as having a red tail. Which does relate to the mythological bird, but with no particular allusions to the "fiery rebirth" lifecycle that it primarily represents to us. – FumbleFingers Aug 28 '18 at 13:22
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A simple option is just to write, Phoenix. As in, a phoenix feather, which means the feather of a phoenix.

In many places just Phoenix, or phoenix’, or phoenixes’ (both of which would be pronounced phoenix’s in conversation), would serve the purpose just fine.

Depending on context [you don’t say, but I’m guessing you have phoenixes in mind as a “race”, with a full culture and civilization] you can often just use the noun, like say Phoenix culture or The Phoenix Navy.

I have no opinion on whether you should write phoenixes or phoenices.

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  • The OP is writing a fantasy story that “involves mythical creatures” so they are referring to the mythical creature, the bird (phoenix) that rises from the ashes. Maybe this piece of information was added later. I can check. In the meantime, please feel free to modify your answer and maybe even casting your vote to reopen it. – Mari-Lou A Aug 29 '18 at 7:17
  • ... what? OP wants an adjective; (s)he says "fantasy", which is a broad church, and most "fantasy" stories involving multiple groups like "angels and demons" involve two or more civilizations that have some sort of tense opposition. So I guessed, perhaps wrongly, that the phoeni[xc]es were to be cast as a group on a similar footing to the others (rather than being, say, just decorative). On that basis, I'm expecting references to their culture, infrastructure, etc. etc. for which, in my opinion, the name can be used as an adjective on its own. The same would often apply to the others ... – Will Crawford Aug 29 '18 at 8:32
  • When I say "depending on context", I don't know if the "phoenixes" are going to be a background part like the eagles in Lord of the Rings, or a big protagonist like the bats in Learning the World ... – Will Crawford Aug 29 '18 at 8:38
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Keeping the same pattern, so Phoenexic or Phoenixic, would work. Like Demonic or Angelic, if you put the emphasis on the second syllable, it sounds pretty good.

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