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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
Why, ’tis the ’tis-the-season season! * ’Tis the season for new arrivals! Gap. ’Tis the season for a holiday position! Sephora (Emeryville, California) ’Tis the season for Dianne Reeves! Pandora (hat tip: Roger Julian). Tis’ (tsk, tsk) the season to give cheer! Wrong-way apostrophe from PayPal. ’Tis the season to... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Fritinancy
The English language gives us many ways to call something (or someone) false or untruthful. In my latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “Unreality Check,” I explore many of those options, from fake, phony, and kayfabe (from underworld slang) to swindle (from German) and disinformation (originally Russian). Full access to... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
I discovered hotep (or Hotep) serendipitously: I was looking for Afro-Cuban responses to the death of Fidel Castro, and a Twitter trail led me to @audaciouskay. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did learn a new word. And that's where some of the black vote for... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Fritinancy
In a week that saw post-truth anointed word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, the media – mainstream and social – were full of news about fake news. Facebook was put on the defensive for allowing “misinformation” about the U.S. presidential election to spread throughout its social network. Google announced... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2016 at Fritinancy
Warning: more politics than usual this month, although many of the links have have a language-y angle. * Post-truth is Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2016. The word, an adjective, means “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Fritinancy
Full disclosure up front: I’m a registered Democrat, and I voted for Hillary Clinton in the California primary and the general election. I contributed a modest amount of money to her campaign. I am in no way an expert in presidential politics, just a reasonably well-informed observer and participant in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2016 at Fritinancy
On November 8 a sub-majority of American voters elected as president a 70-year-old New Yorker who has never held public office or worked in government, never served in the armed forces, and never had a boss other than his father. (After his inauguration in January he will have 300 million... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2016 at Fritinancy
I didn’t think I’d have anything to say this morning – I got less than three hours’ sleep after watching the election returns – but then I saw the print edition of today’s New York Times, which came with a wraparound ad for the new Netflix series The Crown. The... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2016 at Fritinancy
Tomorrow is Election Day in the United States, the culmination of an unprecedentedly nerve-combusting season of political warfare. It’s been a campaign for which derangement – a mental disturbance; a disruption of the regular order – would seem to have been invented. It would even seem to merit the coining... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2016 at Fritinancy
Two signs in two restaurants, both in my general neighborhood in Oakland. 1. Choriz-O-M-G at Chipotle on Lakeshore Avenue. Chipotle is also running a “BOGO” promotion – Buy One, Get One –for active, reserve, and retired members of the armed services. For other commercial uses of OMG, see my 2012... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2016 at Fritinancy
For any other political candidate, the campaign stop would not have made headlines. But because it was this cycle’s Republican nominee, who has rarely deigned to perform the rituals of retail politics, it created a bit of a stir. He would prefer not to. (Via Happening now: Trump and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2016 at Fritinancy
Animalic: Related to animals; used in discussions of perfume to refer to scents derived from or reminiscent of animals, such as musk or civet. The New York Times devoted some ink in its Thursday Styles section last week to the “feral fragrance clouds” that are captivating “high-fashion niche circles.” “Maybe... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2016 at Fritinancy
John Kelly, an American writer now living in Ireland, tweeted this week about a car he’d spotted in Dublin: the Citroën Cactus. “Name meant to evoke feelings of Wild West off-roading?” he mused. Good question, and a very piquant name indeed. I decided to grasp the nettle. The Citroën C4... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2016 at Fritinancy
Spotted on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland: a sign plugging the Jack in the Box Buttery Jack burger. “Juiciest. Butteriest. Craviest.” Sticklers will tell you that of those three adjectives, only juiciest is legit. I’m more concerned about the logical fallacy. Juicy and buttery (and their superlative forms, legit or not)... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2016 at Fritinancy
Nasty: Filthy; offensive; unpleasant; morally corrupt. Documented since the late 14th century (in the “filthy” sense), but the etymology is murky. There are similar words in related languages – nestig (“foul”) in Dutch; naskot (“dirty”) in Swedish – but the OED says “the relationship between the forms is unclear.” Nasty... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2016 at Fritinancy
This is the top half of a full-page ad for Salesforce Tower that appeared in last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle. From the Wikipedia entry: “Salesforce Tower, formerly known as the Transbay Tower, is a 1,070 ft (326 m) supertall office skyscraper under construction in the South of Market district of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2016 at Fritinancy
About zero, that is. It’s my nomination for number of the year. Full access to “A Column about Nothing” is restricted to subscribers for three months; here’s an excerpt: Zero is a synonym for “nothing,” of course, but its value in branding – and in English idioms – is often... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2016 at Fritinancy
Risotto: “An Italian dish of rice cooked in stock with ingredients such as vegetables and meat or seafood” (OED). The dish is associated with northern Italy and particularly Milan (risotto milanese). From Italian riso (rice) and the diminutive suffix -otto. offers alternate etymologies: “Some say it came from an... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2016 at Fritinancy
The origins of cinema terms like blockbuster, cliffhanger, and McGuffin. (Oxford Dictionaries blog) * Test your knowledge of advertising slogans. (Mental Floss) * The return of Spy magazine – the great satirical publication of the 1980s and 1990s – as an Esquire pop-up, and not a moment too soon. *... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2016 at Fritinancy
Earlier this week I spoke via Clarity, an expert-advice service, with a CEO who was considering changing his company’s decade-old name. He told me he didn’t have the budget for professional naming services, so he and his business partner, both tech guys, had attempted to come up with a new... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2016 at Fritinancy
Lewd: Lustful, preoccupied with sex; obscene, indecent. Lewd was headline writers’ go-to adjective in coverage of a leaked 2005 audiotape in which Donald Trump boasts to Billy Bush*, the host of TV’s Access Hollywood, of, among other things, being able to “do anything” to women – including “grab them by... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2016 at Fritinancy
Do-it-yourself home security devices – connected to homeowners’ smartphones rather than to a security company or police department – represent a growing market. Most such devices cost around $200 and involve monthly fees of $10 to $50, but a Chinese smart-technology company, RippleInfo, has developed a security device with some... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2016 at Fritinancy
NEET: Acronym for “Not in Education, Employment or Training” – or, as Wall Street Journal contributor Nicholas Eberstadt put it in a September 1 op-ed, “Neither Employed nor in Education or Training”: Labor Day is an appropriate moment to reflect on a quiet catastrophe: the collapse, over two generations, of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2016 at Fritinancy
I was leafing through People magazine at the hairdresser’s, as one does, when my attention was hijacked by an ad for a new drug with an unusual name. That’s actually two unusual names: “ixekizumab” (the generic name) and “Taltz” (the trade name). But Taltz was the name that made me... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2016 at Fritinancy
Kayfabe: /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ In professional wrestling, the portrayal of staged events as “real” or “true.” The term came from the carnival world, where – according to TV Tropes – it is thought to have originated as Pig Latin for be fake. (According to my sources, its original pronunciation would thus have... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2016 at Fritinancy