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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
I recently heard about a consulting gig with a San Jose creative agency. The firm does strong work in branding and web design, and it has a dynamic website. But one thing made me hesitate. The agency’s name. WebEnertia. If there’s a name less likely to inspire, to motivate, to... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus is about an ongoing fascination of mine: company and product names that end in -ly. Over the last several years I’ve pinned 256 examples of such names on a Pinterest board, from Adaptly and Amazely to Yarrly and Zaarly. But I’m not content... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
Gyges effect: The way in which the Internet “can encourage a disinhibition people simply would not experience face to face.” (Claire Hardaker, The Guardian, August 3, 2013) Gyges is often Anglicized to “JAHY-eez” (source: or “JAHY-jeez.” The Gyges effect takes its name from a story related in Plato’s Republic... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Fritinancy
Cadillac a whipped underdog? That’s what I infer from the automaker’s new “Dare Greatly” campaign, from Publicis, which will kick off during Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast. I caught the teaser ad at a Berkeley movie theater before a screening of the Best Foreign Film nominee Timbuktu, which is about the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2015 at Fritinancy
The Seattle Seahawks lost the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots. Maybe they’d have fared better under one of the other names nominated in a 1975 naming contest, including the Rainbeams, the Lumberjacks, and the Needlers. (Mental Floss) * “Check the trademark early on,” “Avoid focus groups,” and other... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2015 at Fritinancy
Telematics: The science and technology of sending, receiving, and processing information via telecommunications. Telematics is not a new word: it was borrowed from the French télématique, which was coined in 1978 by the authors of a report on “the computerization of society.” (That report was largely responsible for the national... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2015 at Fritinancy
There’s something slightly bananas about this slogan: “Taste Me Do Good” bananas. The bananas in the boxes are grown in Ecuador following organic, fair-trade practices. That’s very commendable. But the marketing language—from that slogan to the name of the growers’ community, Interrupción—is less appealing. For starters, how to interpret “Taste... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2015 at Fritinancy
I’m back at the Strong Language blog today with a post about “Schitt’s Creek,” a new sitcom that makes its U.S. debut tonight on cable TV’s Pop channel. The title was too taboo for NPR’s television critic to utter aloud, so he spelled it out, provided a rhyming mnemonic, and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2015 at Fritinancy
Grammando: “One who constantly corrects others’ linguistic mistakes.” Neologism coined by Lizzie Skurnick from grammar and commando. First appeared in the March 4, 2012, issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, under the heading “That Should Be a Word.” In a blog entry published on the same date, Skurnick... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2015 at Fritinancy
In the February 2 issue of The New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe writes about a new clothing retailer, Kit and Ace, that recently opened its first New York City shop. The company has an athleisure*(athletic + leisure) pedigree: one of the co-founders, Shannon Wilson, is married to Chip Wilson, who founded... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2015 at Fritinancy
Tip creep: The expectation of, or demand for, a gratuity that exceeds the traditional 15 percent. Increasingly, the source of the upward pressure is an automated payment system. From “$3 Tip on a $4 Cup of Coffee? Gratuities Grow, Automatically,” which appeared on the front page of the February 1... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at Fritinancy
This month Scratch Magazine, an online publication “about the intersection of writing and money,” celebrates its first anniversary. In “Scratch,” founder and publisher Jane Friedman (to whom I’m not related) nailed the perfect dual-meaning title: scratch has been an informal synonym for write since at least the early 19th century,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2015 at Fritinancy
My January column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at how smart came to be attached to so many inanimate objects, from phones to skin lotion, from bombs to highways, from quotation marks to fabric. Along the way, I consider the multiple senses of this very old word, which can mean... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at Fritinancy
Ork: Slang (via truncation) for “orchestra,” popularized by entertainment-industry publications in the 1930s. I discovered ork in The B-Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song, Ben Yagoda’s lively and informative new history of the American popular-music industry. The word appears in a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2015 at Fritinancy
Spotted sharing a bookshelf in the fiction section at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon: four titles that, when read in sequence, form a set of instructions. How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran. Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham (whose series for HBO is, of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2015 at Fritinancy
My latest post for Strong Language (“a sweary blog about swearing”) is about Sofa King: “a real brand, a parody brand, a tribute brand, a song title, the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit, and the punchline to a joke.” SNL may have popularized Sofa King, but there had... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2015 at Fritinancy
Hobson-Jobson: The title of a lexicon of words of South Asian origin, compiled by Henry Yule and A.C. Burnell, that were used by the British during in India. The title is the English rendering of “yā ħassan! yā ħussayn! (“O Hassan! O Hussein!”), a cry uttered by Shia Muslims during... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2015 at Fritinancy
For your weekend reading, may I recommend “The Weird Science of Naming New Products,” a longish story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about my favorite subject: naming. The article, by the cultural critic and author Neal Gabler, is essentially a case study of how one Palo Alto technology... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at Fritinancy
Two years ago, the American Dialect Society selected hashtag as its word of the year for 2012. Last week, for its 2014 word of the year, the ADS chose an actual hashtag, #blacklivesmatter, the slogan that—as the press release put it—“took on special significance in 2014 after the deaths of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2015 at Fritinancy
Growlette: A reusable 32-ounce jug, usually glass, that can be filled with beer or other beverages. Formed by adding a diminutive suffix to growler, the 64-ounce version of the jug. The earliest citation I’ve found for growlette—and a possible source for the coinage—is from August 2011, when Throwback Brewery, in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2015 at Fritinancy
This week a San Francisco startup, Marvina, launched its subscription delivery service for medical marijuana. For $95, $175, or $325 a month, San Franciscans who are qualified under California’s Compassionate Use Act can receive 7, 14, or 28 “top-shelf” grams of cannabis, tastefully packaged and delivered to their doors by... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2015 at Fritinancy
Hot damn! I have a new post up on Strong Language, the newish “sweary blog about swearing.” This time I’ve written about brand names like Mother Pucker, Mother Clucker, Mother Effer, and MoFo. Guess what they have in common? Read “So Many Mother _uckers” and share it with your mother,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at Fritinancy
Sad Internet: “A place full of unwatched videos, unliked photographs, unheard music, tweets that no one cared about, and crowdfunding projects that nobody backed.” – Rob Walker. In an article for Yahoo! Tech published last week, Rob Walker takes a mournful look at websites that fit neither of the Internet’s... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at Fritinancy
I have a soft spot for very old words and idioms that are kept alive in contemporary brand names. Like this one: Hue & Cry Security Systems, spotted in Oakland, California. Hue and cry first appeared in English in the late 13th century “as an Anglo-French legal term meaning ‘outcry... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2015 at Fritinancy
Toddy: A beverage made from distilled spirits (especially whiskey), with hot water, sugar, and (usually) lemon juice. Also spelled tottie and totty. Toddy is one of the many common English words imported from Hindi during the centuries of British trade and, ultimately, rule in the subcontinent. (Other imports from Hindi... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2014 at Fritinancy