• faze •
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: To discompose, rattle, upset.
Notes: The trick to manipulating today's Good Word successfully, of course, is not to confuse it with phase "a discrete stage of development". These two words are pronounced identically but, as you can see, they are spelled quite differently. Derivationally, it is a pretty unremarkable word: fazing is the adjective and process noun. No other forms are currently in use.
In Play: Here is a little phrase that might help in remembering how to spell these two different words: "The final phase of compiling the dictionary didn't faze Miriam Webster a bit, even though it was the most complex and difficult one." We hope that didn't faze you. Here is one more, lest we forget: "Not even the most intellectually demanding courses in physical education faze Randy Marathon."
Word History: Today's Good Word came from the Kentish word feeze "to frighten, alarm, discomfit", a descendant of Old English fésian "to drive away". Old English inherited the word from a Proto-Germanic word, something like fausjanan, which also went on to become Swedish fösa "drive, push". Phase comes from New Latin phases "phases of the moon". Latin borrowed this word from Greek phaseis, the plural of phasis "appearance", the noun based on the verb phainein "to show". It is related to pho(t)s "light", the basis of such English words as phosphorus and photography. (This brings us to the gratitude phase of today's Good Word, and thanking both Kathleen McCune and Jan Arps for suggesting it doesn't faze us a bit. Jan also suggested boondoggle, by the way. I also owe a nod and a tip of the hat to Larry Brady, the Stargazer of our Alpha Agora for suggesting the name Miriam Webster.)
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