This paper presents a new physical theory of oscillator phase noise. Built around the concept of phase diffusion, this work bridges the fundamental physics of noise and existing oscillator phase-noise theories. The virtual damping of an ensemble of oscillators is introduced as a measure of phase noise. The explanation of line width compression through virtual damping provides a unified view of resonators and oscillators. The direct correspondence between phase noise and the Einstein relation is demonstrated, which reveals the underlying physics of phase noise. The validity of the new approach is confirmed by consistent experimental agreement.