Full record for phaser n.

Definition a (usu. hand-held) weapon incorporating a laser beam whose "phase" can supposedly be altered to create different effects (such as stunning, annihilation, etc.) on the target. Orig. from the U.S. television series Star Trek.
OED requirements antedating 1966
Earliest cite G. Roddenberry in letter
Comment Letter by Roddenberry April 26, 1966, "hand phaser". "Phaser pistol" found in shooting schedule 1965.

Jeff Prucher found a 1953 cite for "phaser" in Robert A. Heinlein's "Starman Jones", but this was an unrelated sense, for a device for adjusting the "phase" of a force field.

Last modified 6 July, 2008

Citations for phaser n.

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1953 R. A. Heinlein Starman Jones 67 They were a little slow synchronizing the field—or else this bucket of bolts has an unbalanced phaser.
1953 R. A. Heinlein Starman Jones (1975) vi. 59 They were a little slow synchronizing the field—or else this bucket of bolts has an unbalanced phaser.
1966 G. Roddenberry Memo 26 Apr. in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ (1968) iii. i. 272 Reference the mating of various components of the phaser weapons‥when the hand phaser is mated to the pistol, they should appear as one weapon.
1968 R. Hamner & G.L. Coon Taste of Armageddon in J. Blish Star Trek 2 (1968) 13 In view of the warning, they all carried number-one phasers, in addition to a tricorder.
1968 S. E. Whitfield in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ ii. ii. 193 The hand phasers' variety of power settings include a wide range of choices that permit the phaser to be used as a cutting torch, welding device, and similar hand tool needs.
1968 S. E. Whitfield in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ ii. ii. 193 The hand-carried weapons, called ‘phasers’, are pure energy weapons (as are all offensive weapons in the ship's arsenal).
1968 S. E. Whitfield in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ ii. ii. 190 The ship's phaser banks are located on the underside of the saucer-shaped hull.
1968 S. E. Whitfield in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ ii. i. 166 A number of early changes were simply an effort to keep Star Trek 's technology ahead of present-day scientific developments. This was the reason Gene reversed himself on an earlier decision in the ‘planning’ stage and discarded the term ‘Laser’, substituting the term ‘Phaser’.
1968 G. Coon Arena in J. Blish Star Trek 2 (1968) 7 He would have traded the whole wealth of them for a hand phaser.
1970 J. Blish Spock must Die! v. 38 Enough to justify our trying to cut our way in there with a phaser?
1971 J. Blish Star Trek 4 5 He drew his phaser and fired point-blank.
1972 J. Blish Star Trek 8 8 Phasers on stun.
1974 J. Blish Star Trek 10 81 His hand went fast to the phaser at his belt.
1974 J. Blish Star Trek 10 22 Phaser extended, he said, ‘Wrong, Lazarus.’
1978 G. Eklund Starless World vii. 30 I‥discovered that the ship's phasers were no longer functional.
1981 V. N. McIntyre Entropy Effect iii. 79 Damn him for making this sound trivial, if he had not she would have kept her phaser on.
1984 D. Duane My Enemy, my Ally i. 10 He and Giellun‥had finally succeeded in attaching those stealthily-acquired Klingon gunnery augmentation circuits to Bloodwing 's phasers.
1985 M. Larson Pawns & Symbols iv. 41 Sulu scooped up his tricorder and departed at a trot, checking his phaser as he went.
1985 M. W. Bonanno Dwellers in Crucible viii. 182 Set the fore phasers for tight range and lock onto his quarters.
1986 J.M. Dillard Demons iv.85 Spock whirled, his phaser drawn.
1986 D. Carey Dreadnought i.10 Do I have phasers?
1989 D. Dvorkin & D. Dvorkin Star Trek: Next Generation: Captains' Honor vi. 112 At the limits of phaser range, sir‥and they've raised their shields.
1989 D. Dvorkin & D. Dvorkin Star Trek: Next Generation: Captains' Honor Prologue 10 He clamped a hand on the weapons officer's shoulder. ‘Full phasers‥now!’
1990 D. Duane Doctor's Orders viii. 200 Revealing the opening throats of the great main phaser batteries, and the yawning photon torpedo ports.
1992 P. David Imzadi xvii. 124 Tang stroked his round, stubbled chin. The large phaser he always wore was clipped to his waist and slapped against his thick leg.
1992 L. A. Graf Ice Trap ii.27 He'd like to see you in engineering about the phaser modifications, if you have time.
1992 Sci. Fiction Age Nov. 76/3 If you‥try to solve everything with a phaser, McCoy makes sarcastic comments.
1994 L. A. Graf Traitor Winds iv. 56 Not the company that builds all of Starfleet's ship's phaser banks?
1994 L. A. Graf Firestorm i.1 He had yet to find anything to like about fractured rock, changeless dust, and a day-night terminus that sliced across the landscape like a phaser cut.
1995 Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch Star Trek Voyager: Escape v. 52 ‘Phasers on stun,’ Torres said softly to Kim while not slowing down. ‘Make it back to that ship and hold it secure. Understood?’
1995 Interzone Dec. 46/1, I remembered how as a child in the 1980s I would feel free to stun imaginary enemies with replica phasers, how I would set in front of video screens as alien hordes descended from azure skies, picking them off with miraculously accurate fastfire from directed-energy plasma guns.
1995 D. Carey & J.I. Kirkland First Frontier Prologue 6 The mammaloids were good hiders and quick with their own weapons—phasers.
1995 D. M. Flinn Fearful Summons 25 With an uneasy felling he stepped off the platform, his hand instinctively resting on his phaser.
1996 D. Carey Invasion! iii. 43 Soon the enemy would be funneled into withering fire from the Starfleet hand phasers.
1996 D.W. Smith & K.K. Rusch Klingon ix. 74 Dukat sat forward and Kira had the extreme urge to fire a phaser blast at the screen.
1996 J. Gunn Joy Machine ix. 131 If we had a diversion from the Enterprise. Phasers. Photon torpedoes.
1996 D. Carey Invasion! ii. 30 Phaser wash broke between her hull plates.
1997 W. Shatner Avenger Prologue 3 As if the shimmer were a transporter beam. Or a phaser set to disintegrate.
1997 W. Shatner Avenger ii. 15 Rolk had taken each out with a precision phaser hit.
1997 J. Sherman & S. Shwartz Vulcan's Forge vi. 62 They wore stone-hilted daggers, but no energy weapons—phaser—such as a Starfleet officer might wear on duty.
1998 G. Cox Assignment: Eternity ii. 20 Chekov leaped from his seat and drew his phaser.
1998 W. Shatner et al. Spectre i. 8 A band of fire shot through his lower back like a phaser burst.
1999 M. J. Friedman My Brother's Keeper i. v. 61 Phasers, disruptors, photon torpedoes‥none of those technologies had been invented yet.
1999 M. J. Friedman My Brother's Keeper ii. i. 1 It had fallen to him to stand watch‥overlooking the ship's internal sensor net and guarding her phaser stores.
1999 M. J. Friedman My Brother's Keeper ii. ix. 156 Target phasers and fire.
1999 C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek Next Generation: Dyson Sphere ix. 140 Alarm ran through him like shock from an overloaded phaser.
1999 N. Stephenson Cryptonomicon 102 A beam of yellow light, like a phaser blast in Star Trek , shoots across the bay.