Etymology
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Words related to pH

nephew (n.)

c. 1300, neveu, "son of one's sister or brother," also "a grandson; a relative; a kinsman," from Old French neveu (Old North French nevu) "grandson, descendant," from Latin nepotem (nominative nepos) "sister's son, grandson, descendant," in post-Augustan Latin (c. 150 A.D.), "nephew," from PIE *nepot- "grandchild," and in a general sense, "male descendant other than son" (source also of Sanskrit napat "grandson, descendant;" Old Persian napat- "grandson;" Old Lithuanian nepuotis "grandson;" Dutch neef; German Neffe "nephew;" Old Irish nia, genitive niath "son of a sister," Welsh nei).

The original pronunciation is /nev-u/; the spelling was changed unetymologically to -ph- after c. 1400, and the pronunciation partly followed it. Used in English in all the classical senses until the meaning narrowed in 17c., and also as a euphemism for "the illegitimate son of an ecclesiastic" (1580s). The Old English cognate, nefa "nephew, stepson, grandson, second cousin" survived to 16c.

[I]ts final exclusive use for 'nephew' instead of 'grandson' is prob. due in part to the fact that, by reason of the great difference in age, a person has comparatively little to do with his grandsons, if he has any, while nephews are proverbially present and attentive, if their uncle is of any importance. [Century Dictionary]
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phat (adj.)

hip-hop slang, "great, excellent," 1992, originating perhaps in the late 1980s and meaning at first "sexiness in a woman." The word itself is presumably a variant of fat (q.v.) in one of its slang senses, with the kind of off-beat spelling preferred in street slang (compare boyz). The spelling is attested as far back as 1678, as an erroneous form of fat (a classical over-correction; see ph).

In the modern word it is said by some to be an acronym, and supposed originals are offered: "pretty hot and tasty," or "pretty hips and thighs" among them, all unconvincing. These may have begun as improvised explanations to women who felt insulted by the word.

phreak (n.)

1972 (also as a verb), originally in phone phreak, one of a set of technically creative people who electronically hacked or defrauded telephone companies of the day.

The phreaks first appeared on the US scene in the early 1960s, when a group of MIT students were found to have conducted a late night dialling experiment on the Defense Department's secret network. They were rewarded with jobs when they explained their system to Bell investigators. ... The name "phone phreak" identified the enthisiasts with the common underground usage of freak as someone who was cool and used drugs. [New Scientist, Dec. 13, 1973]

The ph- in phone may have suggested the alteration, and this seems to be the original of the 1990s slang fad for substituting ph- for f- (as in phat).

phantasm (n.)

mid-13c., fantesme, "that which has only seeming reality, permanence, or value;" c. 1300 as "an illusory experience or object; an apparition;" from Old French fantosme "a dream, illusion, fantasy; apparition, ghost, phantom" (12c.), and directly from Latin phantasma "an apparition, specter," in Late Latin also "appearance, image," from Greek phantasma "image, phantom, apparition; mere image, unreality," from phantazein "to make visible, display," from stem of phainein "to bring to light, make appear; come to light, be seen, appear; explain, expound, inform against; appear to be so," from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine." Spelling conformed to Latin from 16c. (see ph). A spelling variant of phantom, "differentiated, but so that the differences are elusive" [Fowler].

phantom (n.)

c. 1300, fantum, famtome, "illusion, unreality; an illusion," senses now obsolete, from Old French fantosme (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *fantauma, from Latin phantasma "an apparition," from Greek phantasma "image, phantom, apparition; mere image, unreality," from phantazein "to make visible, display," from stem of phainein "to bring to light, make appear," from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine." The ph- was restored in English late 16c. (see ph).

Meaning "a specter, spirit, ghost" is attested from late 14c.; that of "something having the form, but not the substance, of a real thing" is from 1707. As an adjective from early 15c. (Coleridge used phantomatic for "phantom-like, unreal"). Phantom limb "sensation of the presence of an amputated arm or leg" is attested by 1871.

pharmacy (n.)
Origin and meaning of pharmacy

late 14c., farmacie, "a medicine that rids the body of an excess of humors (except blood);" also "treatment with medicine; theory of treatment with medicine," from Old French farmacie "a purgative" (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin pharmacia, from Greek pharmakeia "a healing or harmful medicine, a healing or poisonous herb; a drug, poisonous potion; magic (potion), dye, raw material for physical or chemical processing."

This is from pharmakeus (fem. pharmakis) "a preparer of drugs, a poisoner, a sorcerer" from pharmakon "a drug, a poison, philter, charm, spell, enchantment." Beekes writes that the original meaning cannot be clearly established, and "The word is clearly Pre-Greek." The ph- was restored 16c. in French, 17c. in English (see ph).

Buck ["Selected Indo-European Synonyms"] notes that "Words for 'poison', apart from an inherited group, are in some cases the same as those for 'drug' ...." In addition to the Greek word he has Latin venenum "poison," earlier "drug, medical potion" (source of Spanish veneno, French venin, English venom), and Old English lybb.

Meaning "the use or administration of drugs" is from c. 1400; the sense of "art or practice of preparing, preserving, and compounding medicines and dispensing them according to prescriptions" is from 1650s; that of "place where drugs are prepared and dispensed" is recorded by 1833.

pheasant (n.)

well-known game bird, long domesticated in Europe, c. 1300 fesaunt (mid-12c. as a surname), from Anglo-French fesaunt, Old French faisan (13c.) "pheasant," from Latin phasianus (Medieval Latin fasianus), from Greek phasianos "a pheasant," literally "Phasian bird," from Phasis, the river flowing into the Black Sea in Colchis, where the birds were said to have been numerous.

The ph- was restored in English late 14c. (see ph). The unetymological -t is due to confusion with -ant, suffix of nouns formed from present participle of verbs in first Latin conjugation (compare ancient, pageant, tyrant, peasant). The Latin word also is the source of Spanish faisan, Portuguese feisão, German Fasan, Russian bazhantu.

phi 
twenty-first letter of the Greek alphabet; see ph.
phoenix (n.)

mythical bird of great beauty worshiped in Egypt, Old English and Old French fenix, from Medieval Latin phenix, from Latin phoenix, from Greek phoinix. The bird was the only one of its kind, ans after living 500 or 600 years in the Arabian wilderness, "built for itself a funeral pile of spices and aromatic gums, lighted the pile with the fanning of its wings, and was burned upon it, but from its ashes revived in the freshness of youth" [Century Dictionary]. 

Ðone wudu weardaþ wundrum fæger
fugel feþrum se is fenix hatan
["Phoenix," c.900]

Compare Phoenician, which seems to be unrelated. Forms in ph- begin to appear in English late 15c. and the spelling was assimilated to Greek in 16c. (see ph). Figurative sense of "that which rises from the ashes of what was destroyed" is attested from 1590s.

The constellation was one of the 11 added to Ptolemy's list in the 1610s by Flemish cartographer Petrus Plancius (1552-1622) after Europeans began to explore the Southern Hemisphere. The city in Arizona, U.S., was so called because it was founded in 1867 on the site of an ancient Native American settlement.

physic (n.)

c. 1300, fysike, phisike, "a healing potion;" early 14c., "natural science;" mid-14c. "healthful regimen;" late 14c., "the art of healing, medical science or theory;" from Old French fisike "natural science, art of healing" (12c.) and directly from Latin physica (fem. singular of physicus) "study of nature," from Greek physikē (epistēmē) "(knowledge) of nature," from fem. of physikos "pertaining to nature," from physis "nature," from phyein "to bring forth, produce, make to grow" (related to phyton "growth, plant," phylē "tribe, race," phyma "a growth, tumor") from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow."

The English spelling with ph- is attested from late 14c. (see ph). The meaning "medicine that acts as a laxative" is from 1610s. The obsolete verb meaning "to dose with medicine, administer medical treatment to" is attested from late 14c. (phisiken).