One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The first appearance of the new moon.
Mid 17th century (in an earlier sense). From post-classical Latin phasis or its etymon ancient Greek ϕάσις appearance, in Hellenistic Greek also phase from ϕα-, ablaut variant of the stem of ϕαίνειν to bring to light, cause to appear, show + -σις.
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