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Nancy Friedman
Oakland, California
Fritinancy: a chirping or creaking, as of a cricket (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1913 edition); formerly known as Away With Words.
Interests: follow me on twitter:, get instant name advice at
Recent Activity
Welcome, students! Here’s your curriculum for the semester: Anthropologie Course description: “Founded in Wayne, Pennsylvania in the autumn of 1992, Anthropologie remains a destination for women wanting a curated mix of clothing, accessories, gifts and home décor that reflects their personal style and fuels their lives' passions, from fashion to... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Fritinancy
Item: “She calls her startup Rapunzel, and for good reason: Angela Christiano is working on growing a full head of hair in the lab.” – Stat, August 12, 2016 The startup is so new it doesn’t yet have a website, but it has generated plenty of buzz in the scientific... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Fritinancy
#LochMess: A hashtag identifying the scandal involving 12-time Olympic swimming medalist Ryan Lochte, who, along with three of his U.S. teammates, claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro the night after their gold-medal performance in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay. Brazilian police investigators later determined... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Fritinancy
This “refresher on trademark basics” is addressed to the craft beer industry, but it’s filled with solid information for anyone who needs to legally own a business name. (Hat tip: Timberlake Law.) * More beer? Sure, why not. Craft brewers run out of catchy names “as puns run dry.” Girl... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at Fritinancy
My new column for the Visual Thesaurus, “When Words Collide,” looks at portmanteau words and names: their history (thank you, Lewis Carroll!), how they’re constructed, and why some succeed and others fail. “Glotion”: a recent portmanteau that falls short of the ideal. Full access to the column is restricted to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2016 at Fritinancy
Sarcasm: A cutting remark intended to express contempt or ridicule. From late Greek sarkasmos: a sneer, jest, taunt, or mockery. Its original meaning was “tear flesh”; its root is sarco-, a Latinized form of a Greek root meaning “flesh.” Compare sarcophagus (limestone used for coffins; literally “flesh-eating”) and sarcoma (a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2016 at Fritinancy
Software engineers and the enterprises that hire them as vendors share a frustration: long-term contracts with little flexibility. Adrian Ionel, who’d co-founded the successful cloud-infrastructure company Mirantis, had a better idea: a software-support network that cuts out the middlemen and the expensive contracts, delivering expert technical services on an as-needed... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at Fritinancy
Goldwater Rule: An informal ethical code that prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions about the mental state of someone they haven’t personally evaluated. The rule has been accepted by the American Psychiatric Association since 1973; officially, it is known as Section 7.3 of the APA’s ethics principles. The rule is named... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2016 at Fritinancy
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re having our usual cool and foggy summer. But in the hotter inland and upland parts of the state, wildfire season is entering its third month. A couple of weeks ago, I drove home from Los Angeles on I-5, near where the poetically... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2016 at Fritinancy
This week Airbnb – which now styles itself as a “worldwide accommodations leader” with the slogan “Live There” (it used to be “Belong Anywhere”) – revealed a new division called Samara and announced the division’s first project: a communal housing development meant to revitalize a small town in Japan. According... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2016 at Fritinancy
Apophasis: Saying something by denying that you’ll say it; the “I’m-not-saying-I’m-just saying” rhetorical device. From the Greek roots apo- (away from, off) and -phatikos (to speak): “to deny.” Entered English in a 1656 rhetoric text, when it was defined as “a kind of irony.” Pronounced (ə-pŏf′ə-sĭs). Apophasis is also known... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2016 at Fritinancy
Dead-ender: A partisan who refuses to stop supporting a cause or candidate; a die-hard. This sense of dead-ender – the most recent of several to have appeared during the term’s history – has appeared regularly during the current U.S. presidential campaign. It’s used as a disparaging tag for zealous supporters... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2016 at Fritinancy
I don’t knit, but that hasn’t stopped me from lurking around the Etsy shop of a German merchant called DyeForYarn. The pun, though forced, is fitting. Just take a look at the macabre names bestowed on many of the colors. It’s Really Dead, Dead Walnut Wood, Black Hole, Gray Which... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2016 at Fritinancy
A blanket merchant in the Pacific Northwest is doing laudable work under a mournful moniker. The company commissions and sells handmade blankets in a variety of materials and designs. For every blanket you purchase, the company donates a blanket to your local homeless shelter. The name of the company: Sackcloth... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2016 at Fritinancy
What’s playing at the multiplex? I’ll tell you what’s playing at the multiplex: Bad Moms, coming to a large screen near you on July 29. That may have been what Vanity Fair film critic Richard Lawson was thinking of when he tweeted the other day: I'm glad we just put... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2016 at Fritinancy
Remember back in May, when Budweiser announced it was rebranding its beer “America” for the remainder of the U.S. election season? (You’ve probably noticed how much national harmony has broken out as a consequence.) Well, not to be outdone, a much smaller brewery in Minnesota has brought out its own... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2016 at Fritinancy
Miserabilism: A pessimistic philosophy; a consistently miserable outlook. From miserable combined with the philosophical suffix -ism. I recently heard miserabilism in an unexpected context: the annual awards lunch hosted by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. (I attended as the guest of a client.) Before we got to the awards, we... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2016 at Fritinancy
When I discovered that an odd number – in both senses – was being used an even number of times (two) as a company name, my curiosity was naturally piqued. The odd number in question is four hundred twenty-seven: 427. Does it signify anything to you? Me neither. Of course,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2016 at Fritinancy
Aeroese: The universal language of airline pilots and air-traffic controllers. Pronounced arrow-ease. Also (and more commonly) known as Aviation English. In an essay published last month in the online magazine Aeon, Mark Vanhoenacker – a licensed commercial pilot and the author of Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot – writes... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2016 at Fritinancy
The Athenian School, a small, private, progressive institution for grades 6 through 12 in Danville, California, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. Simultaneously, it launched a $12 million capital campaign comprising three major facility improvements. I was brought in to develop a themeline for the campaign, which will span the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2016 at Fritinancy
My new column for the Visual Thesaurus, “There’s Something About ‘Thing’,” takes a look at the astonishing versatility and utility of thing, one of the oldest words in the English language. Thing dates back to at least the seventh century C.E., yet it’s as current as the oft-invoked Internet of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Fritinancy
Flyting: A ritual exchange of insults. According to a Wikipedia entry: The root is the Old English word flītan meaning quarrel (from Old Norse word flyta meaning provocation). Examples of flyting are found throughout Norse, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval literature involving both historical and mythological figures. The exchanges would become... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2016 at Fritinancy
In June 2006, George W. Bush was president of the United States, crowdsourcing was new to the lexicon, a lot of people still called blogs “weblogs,” YouTube was barely seven months old, and the iPhone was still a twinkle in Steve Jobs’s eye. Also, I began writing this blog. Ten... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at Fritinancy
Upskirt: “A video, usually taken in a crowded location such as a shopping mall, that is shot up a woman’s skirt” without the woman’s permission or even knowledge. (Source: Word Spy) In early May, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law criminalizing upskirting. reported: Noting concerns for protecting... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2016 at Fritinancy
The press release arrived in inboxes Thursday afternoon, and within minutes it seemed everyone in media or branding was scoffing at it. Tribune Publishing Co. (NYSE:TPUB) today announced that the Company will change its name to tronc, Inc., a content curation and monetization company focused on creating and distributing premium,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2016 at Fritinancy