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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 spotted a seasonable new verb in the window of Noah’s New York Bagels in Montclair Village (Oakland): “Prepare to Pumpkin” Unlike the store window, the company website refrains from squash-verbing, or verb-squashing: it simply and modestly claims that “Pumpkin Is Here.” The bounty includes pumpkin bagels, pumpkin shmear, pumpkin... Continue reading
Posted 3 hours ago at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “Going Medieval: The Revival of ‘Apothecary’,” is now live—and this month, you don’t have to be a subscriber to read it. (But of course you should subscribe anyway, right?) In the column, I expand on a Word of the Week entry from earlier... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Fritinancy
Validate: To make legally valid; to sanction; to confirm or corroborate; to authorize; to verify. (“The court validated the contract”; “The judge validated the election”). From Latin validatus, participle form of validus: strong, powerful, effective. Related to valiant. Those are the primary definitions of validate in all of the major... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
Further journeyings in the land of the blend: 1. Kidvasion is a month-long promotion of the San Diego Tourism Authority. This blend is what The Name Inspector would call awkwordplay: a mismatch in syllable emphasis. In one of the blended words, invasion, the stress falls on the second syllable; but... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Fritinancy
It’s the branding question of the week: Why didn’t Apple name its new wearable wrist-thing an “iWatch”? iNames, RIP. — John Gruber (@gruber) September 9, 2014 Since Apple’s announcement of the Apple Watch on Tuesday, tech journalists have been digging for answers. One of them, Rebecca Greenfield of Fast Company,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Fritinancy
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which became the national anthem of the United States in 1931. In Baltimore, where Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics, celebrations and historic events began on Flag Day, June 14, and will continue through Defender’s Day,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at Fritinancy
Single-sole: Descriptive of a shoe style without a platform sole. Usually seen as a modifier for pumps or heels. “Single-sole” is a retronym: a “throwback-compound” that differentiates the original form of a word from a more recent version. (In a 2007 New York Times columnabout retronyms, the late language maven... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at Fritinancy
The skincare brand Vichy was new to me when I spotted it at Walgreen’s last weekend. Vichy display at Walgreen’s. The headline strikes me as not quite idiomatic: “transforms” generally doesn’t take “to.” But Vichy is not a new brand: it was born in 1931, when a Parisian cosmetics manufacturer,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Fritinancy
In April, Microsoft announced the launch of Cortana, its new digital personal assistant for Windows Phone 8.1. Like the iPhone’s Siri, Cortana takes feminine pronouns. Some examples (cute or smarmy, depending on your perspective) from the Windows Phone website: “Before you can get all the goodies Cortana has to offer,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2014 at Fritinancy
Ammosexual: A person who exhibits an extreme love of firearms, possibly to the point of fetishization. Coined from ammunition and sexual, with sonic overtones of homosexual. On June 6, 2014, Bill Maher, comedian and host of the late-night talk show “Real Time,” derided proponents of “open carry” laws that would... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2014 at Fritinancy
This “Charlotte’s Web” isn’t the beloved children’s book by E.B. White. But it does have a connection to childhood. Some background first: The five Stanley brothers of Wray, Colorado, grow medicinal marijuana in greenhouses and—now that medical and recreational cannabis are legal in Colorado—outdoors. Federal law prohibits them from shipping... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2014 at Fritinancy
The heroic drumroll continues in the world of commerce! Some recent sightings: * Delivery Hero, a Berlin-based food-delivery service that operates in 23 countries, was in the news earlier this month when it announced its acquisition of German rival Delivery Hero was founded in 2011. “Our Hero, Our Values.”... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2014 at Fritinancy
Snowden effect: “The increased awareness of the extent and scope of illegal or excessive surveillance in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations; the increased desire to be protected from such surveillance.” (Source: Word Spy.) Paul McFedries of Word Spy traces the origin of “Snowden effect” to the title of a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2014 at Fritinancy
I was making a beeline through Bloomingdale’s in San Francisco, short-cutting through the store to get to Market Street, when a brand name stopped me in my tracks. Not just any brand name: a name I’m proud to claim as one of my very own. Tria hair removal laser 4X... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2014 at Fritinancy
Two news-to-me items: 1. Toyota Europe has sold a “city car,” the Aygo, since 2005. The name is pronounced EYE-go, and it’s meant to express “freedom and mobility”—as in “I go.” 2. For this year’s “new generation” Aygo, Toyota wants you to “Go Fun Yourself.” (Hat tip: Dan Clayton in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2014 at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at the centuries-old roots—as in Middle English and even Old English—of thirteen modern brand names. Access to this month’s column is free to all (but you should subscribe anyway!); here’s an excerpt: Hobby Lobby. Founded in 1970 in Oklahoma City, where it... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Fritinancy
Data lake: “A massive, easily accessible data repository built on (relatively) inexpensive computer hardware for storing big data.” (Source: Wiktionary.) “The opposite of a data warehouse, meaning they're huge pools of data stored in its original format instead of being collated, sorted and filed.” (Source: ReadWrite.) The last several years... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Fritinancy
Back in December 2012 I wrote about Be. wines, a Beringer brand targeted at young women. “Be.” is a cute ’n’ sassy truncation of “Beringer,” and each varietal is tagged with an imperative: Be.Bright (Pinot Grigio), Be.Radiant (Riesling), Be.Flirty (Moscato), and so on. So much cleverness obviously begged to be... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at Fritinancy
Media holding company Gannett’s new job descriptions for “the newsroom of the future” (“Content Coach,” “Engagement Editor,” et al.) are pretty close to self-parody. But that didn’t stop some anonymous wag—obviously very close to the machine—from creating a parody. Apply now to be a Bullshit Artist 1, Reduction in Force... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at Fritinancy
Taphephobia: Fear of being buried alive. From Greek taphē burial, grave (whence also epitaph) and New Latin phobia. Also taphiphobia, taphophobia. The Premature Burial (1962). Image via Gallery Hip. The OED has no entry for any of the spellings of this curious word; other sources, including Collins Dictionary and Webster’s... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Fritinancy
I’m winding up #WeedWeek—a series of posts on the marketing of legal marijuana—with a look at CannaCon, a four-day cannabis convention and expo coming to Tacoma, Washington, next week. “Nation’s Largest Cannabis Expo.” In 2012, Washington State voters passed Initiative 502, which legalized the possession and cultivation of marijuana in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2014 at Fritinancy
I’m generally not a fan of company names that require phonetic pronunciation guides, but I’ll make an exception for Otoké Horticulture, a Colorado-based consultant to marijuana growers throughout the United States. The name story is just too good. It’s “oh-toh-KAY.” P.S. Surely they can improve on the Papyrus typeface. Given... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at Fritinancy
Leafly, which calls itself “the world’s largest cannabis information resource”—and which Business Insider has called “Yelp for weed”—took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times to congratulate New York State for passing the Compassionate Care Act, which legalizes the medical use of marijuana. The ad ran on Page... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at Fritinancy
Budtender: A worker at a dispensary of medical or recreational marijuana who helps customers with their selections. Formed from bud (of marijuana) and bartender. As of July 2014, 23 states and the District of Columbia had laws legalizing the sale and use of marijuana. Two of them, Washington and Colorado,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at Fritinancy
Here we go again. “Get in the funnest sport there is.” Ten industry partners, including the youth-sports organization USA Swimming and several swimsuit manufacturers, are collaborating on a summer-long campaign to encourage kids to join a swim club or team—in other words, to view swimming as a sport instead of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at Fritinancy