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A conversation between two young schoolgirls. From The Simpson's 10th season.

– Is that perfume?

– Oh! Don't be such a Phoebe.

What does it mean to be a Phoebe? Does Phoebe refer to a bird or the character from Friends?

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I don't know if this is really a question about English, but according to SNPP, the character who said the line was voiced by Lisa Kudrow, who also played Phoebe on Friends. (I'd have no idea what "don't be such a Phoebe" meant without looking it up on Google.) –  snailplane Apr 26 at 5:00
    
No idea. Phoebe is a girl's name. Do you think you heard it correctly? Could it be another word such as "dweeb"? –  AdmiralAdama Apr 26 at 5:04
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I agree with snailplane. I don't think most people would get this reference outside the context of this particular Simpsons episode. (Of course, there's no way for the O.P. to know this; it's a fair question.) –  J.R. Apr 26 at 9:05
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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It is indeed a reference to Lisa Kudrow's character on Friends.

Phoebe is pretty much a hippie or at least granola, and would never buy or apply something so unnatural as perfume.

Lisa Kudrow's character is telling Lisa Simpson to lighten up and embrace all things trendy and feminine in a way that gives a nod to Kudrow's most famous role (and supplies an in-joke/confirmation for all the viewers who had by this point identified her by her distinctive voice).

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It's worth noting that The Simpsons is well-known for its multilayer humor, often peppered with inside jokes. The show also features several famous guest stars, some of whom refer to themselves in subtle ways. One of my favorite lines is when Homer goes to Rock-and-Roll camp; when camp is over, Mick Jagger (playing himself) tells a disappointed Homer to cheer up, "it's only rock and roll camp", and Homer responds, "but I like it." That star-studded episode also featured Keith Richards, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello & Lenny Kravitz. –  J.R. Apr 26 at 8:57
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This line refers to the show "Friends" which guest star Lisa Kudrow also stared in as Phoebe.

It probably means "Don't be so stupid or naive" (two characteristics of Phoebe)

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I just made a couple minor edits to this post. You might want to take a look at this meta post to avoid making that same error. –  J.R. Apr 27 at 6:49
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