|Wait, is this a phaser or a fazer?|
- But nothing fazes Richard, so he'll be up for it.
- But nothing phases Richard, so he'll be up for it.
The word meaning "disconcert, trouble" has nothing to do with "phase". FAZE is a very old word, derived from Old English fésian (to drive away), which by the 15th century was also being used to mean "frighten, alarm". Like so many words that have died out of Standard British English, this one survived in North America, and by the 1830s had taken on the meaning "disconcert, disturb". It was subsequently revived in British English.
The homophone PHASE comes ultimately from the Greek word designating each of the aspects of the moon or a planet, according to the amount of its illumination. It is a mere stripling compared to "faze", having entered English in the 17th century. Very quickly its use was extended from the strictly astronomical sense to mean "a distinct period or stage in a process of change or development".
And then, GUESS WHAT??? It BECAME A VERB.
First, in the early 1900s, in electrical engineering:
To adjust the phase of (an oscillation, alternating current, etc.), esp. in order to bring it into phase or synchrony with something else.
and then, in the late 1940s, more generally:
To organize, carry out, or introduce in phases. Freq. with in (or out): to introduce into (or withdraw from) use, operation, etc., gradually or in stages.Remarkably, people were unfazed by this function shift. As they should be.
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