Today I found out the difference between “faze” and “phase”. These two words are often misused, even by professional writers, particularly in regards to the phrase “phased out”, which is more often than not incorrectly written as “fazed out”, due to the two being homophones.
Specifically, “faze” means: “to disturb, disconcert, or daunt; caused to show discomposure”. On the other hand, “phase” refers generally to stages. For instance, the phases of the moon or a phase someone is going through or phases of harmonic motion or the like.
From this, we can see why it should be “phased out” instead of “fazed out”, with “phase” referring to stages and thus “phased out” signally the end of some stage.
So just remember:
- “fazed” more or less = “disturbed”
- “phased” more or less refers to stages.
- The word “phase” comes from “phainein” which means “to show” or “to make appear”.
- “Phase” originally appeared in English around the mid 17th century and was typically used for referring to lunar and other astronomical activities. The first non-astronomical uses of the word appeared in the late 19th century, with those uses typically referring to “difficult periods” in adolescents. “Phase” also got an extended definition around the mid 20th century as referring to synchronizing.
- “Faze” on the other hand comes from a variant of the 15th century Kentish dialect “feeze”, which means “to frighten, alarm, or discomfort”. This “feeze” in turn was from the Old English “fesian” which meant “to drive away”. Interestingly, had the definition of “fesian” carried over to “feeze” and then to “faze”, it wouldn’t actually be wrong to say “fazed out” instead of “phased out”.
Other Often Misused Homophones:
- Right, Write, Wright, Rite
- Buy, By, Bye
- Cite, Sight, Site
- There, Their, They’re
- To, Too, Two
- Weather, Wether, Whether
- Allowed, Aloud
- Allot, A Lot
- Beat, Beet
- Bridal, Bridle
- Callous, Callus
- Straight, Strait
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