Yesterday I was playing a board game with a friend and got lost in thought so much I didn't notice it was my turn. "Sorry, I fazed out", I mumbled, and moved my piece.

Did I use "phaze out" in the example above correctly? Is this phrasal verb universally understood?

The phrase came naturally to me, but when I looked it up on the Internet I found a surprisingly scant amount of results, and no dictionary whatsoever seems to mention it.

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    I have definitely heard it and even used it myself. I always thought it was American slang. But I'm just as surprised as you at how hard it is to find! It's definitely synonymous with "space out". – Jay A. Little Aug 19 '18 at 5:39
  • @JayA.Little that's very interesting! Do you think you could expand your comment into an answer noting its regional use? I'm fairly certain now it rubbed off on me from one of the Mid-Atlantic twenty-something speakers I listened to talking, though I've no sources to substantiate this claim. – undercat applauds Monica Aug 19 '18 at 15:38
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    I've tried hard to find a source to build an answer on, but there's nothing for "phase out" or "faze out". All I can tell you is that it is familiar to me and I'm a millennial New Englander, so that's better left as a comment. I think Em has provided the correct answer. Mine would only be pure speculation, that it came from "phase" (state of matter) used with fantasy heroes and ghosts to "phase through" walls or "phase in/out" with the sense of "disappearing", then that idea applied to mentally disappearing (losing focus). – Jay A. Little Aug 19 '18 at 23:14
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    @JayA.Little If you're a native speaker and could recognize the expression, I think that alone makes a good cause for an alternative answer merely acknowledging its existence, but I see your point. English is not a committee-driven language and what is condescendingly referred to as "kids' lingo" today finds its way into dictionaries tomorrow. The fact that the expression has been used in some recent books (all written by the US authors, curiously enough) makes me think it is indeed fairly well recogniz – undercat applauds Monica Aug 20 '18 at 0:07

Unless it's something the kids say these days, I don't think that usage is correct. It could also be a regional quirk. Is it universally understood? Maybe. I could guess what you were trying to say, but I didn't really think it was idiomatic.

Like you said, the dictionary doesn't seem to support this.

Definition of faze
fazed; fazing
transitive verb
: to disturb the composure of : disconcert, daunt • Nothing fazed her. • Criticism did not seem to faze the writer.

There's also phase out:

phase out
phrasal verb
If something is phased out, people gradually stop using it.
They said the present system of military conscription should be phased out.

In my experience, this not used to mean that you got lost in thought.

I think you were thinking of space out:

Definition of space out
intransitive verb
: to become inattentive, distracted, or mentally remote • spaced out halfway through the lecture

There's also zone out:

zone out
1. To lose focus or stop paying attention to something, usually unintentionally. The term can be used to indicate that someone has focused on one thing to the exclusion of all other stimuli. I think I must have zoned out during that lecture, because when it was over I realized I didn't remember anything the professor said. Jerry kind of zones out when he plays video games, so you have to be really loud to get his attention.

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