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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
Dumped by parent company Kellogg in 2002 and briefly revived in 2008, the Hydrox cookie will make a comeback this fall. Cue the “Hydrox Redux” headlines! The dead Hydrox trademark was acquired in 2013 byLeaf Brands, a candy company in Newport Coast (Orange County), California, that is also reviving several... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Fritinancy
Churnalism: “Journalism that churns out articles based on wire stories and press releases, rather than original reporting.” (Source: Word Spy.) A portmanteau of churn and journalism. I spotted churnalism last week in an FT Magazine story about the blurring of lines between journalism and PR. The story, by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson,... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
Here’s a late addition to my National Punctuation Day roundup of quirkily punctuated brand names. This one comes with such a good story that I decided to give it its own post. * Specialty’s Café and Bakery, which has 48 locations in California, Washington, and Illinois, has been puzzling proofreaders... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Fritinancy
Today is National Punctuation Day, a semi-whimsical holiday invented in 2004 by journalist and marketing guy Jeff Rubin. I leave it to others to wail over missing commas and misplaced apostrophes. I celebrate in my own way: by recognizing creative, quirky, and mysterious punctuation in logos, brand names, and marketing... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2014 at Fritinancy
Titch: A small person. This sense of titch* was new to me until very recently, when I encountered it in a brief New York Times Sunday Magazine story about Fatyo, a Japanese retailer that specializes in apparel that is—quoting directly now from the Fatyo website—“Metropolitan, tough. Real and daily, casual... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at Fritinancy
A postscript to yesterday’s post about pumpkin (verb) and pumpkin spice latte (beverage): Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Lingua Franca blog, William Germano questions the grammar and logic of “PSL” and unhyphenated “pumpkin spice.” Starbucks has hailed the return of the beverage with big signs for “PSL.” Is... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2014 at Fritinancy
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 Sep 18, 2014 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 Sep 16, 2014 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 Sep 15, 2014 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 Sep 12, 2014 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 Sep 11, 2014 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