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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
Mountain Dew, the neon-yellow-green soft drink brand owned by PepsiCo, evidently failed to consult anyone in Scotland before it introduced its new ad slogan, “Epic thrills start with a chug.” If it had, it would have learned that chug is Scottish slang for masturbate. (Jelisa Castrodale for Vice, via Language... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Fritinancy
Last month I wrote about the henchman in a New York Daily News headline, “All the President’s Henchmen.” This week my new Visual Thesaurus column looks at the whole phrase, which is an example of a snowclone, or phrasal template. (Other well-used snowclones include “X is the new Y” and... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Fritinancy
It’s a frightful season for book publishers. Fear: Trump in the White House. Bob Woodward’s latest book sold 750,000 copies on its first day of publication, September 11. On Twitter, someone suggested a title for the sequel: Loathing. Feared. A new novel by mystery writer Lisa Scottoline about a law... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2018 at Fritinancy
I’m taking a breather from blogging while I catch up with some other projects. I expect I’ll return, but I’m not sure when. In the meantime, here are a few other pieces I’ve written recently. (The Visual Thesaurus columns have been released from their paywall.) Teledildonics (Strong Language) Swears in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2018 at Fritinancy
A few years ago I noted the proliferation of girl-y book titles: Gone Girl, How to Build a Girl, Not That Kind of Girl, et al. (not to mention The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and her multiple avatars). The trend flattened out for a while, but lately it’s burst... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2018 at Fritinancy
This was the front page of the New York Daily News on August 22, 2018: “All the President’s Henchmen” The line puts a spin on the title of the most famous book (and movie) to come out of the Watergate scandal, which broke 45 years ago this month. All the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2018 at Fritinancy
Caterpillar, the heavy-equipment manufacturer, has had a registered trademark for CAT since 1949. Now it’s extending CAT to a footwear line. And not just steel-toed boots, either: these oxfords are women’s street fashion. (Duets Blog) * The method Google Maps uses to name city neighborhoods “is often mysterious. The company... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2018 at Fritinancy
On Friday, August 17, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported that a case of measles had been confirmed in “a non-resident tourist” who had visited six Santa Monica businesses within a three-day period earlier in the month. No details about the tourist were provided, but at least... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2018 at Fritinancy
Mystified by bitcoin, satoshi, token, and cryptocurrency? Follow me into the blockchain mines to discover and polish some linguistic nuggets. I also look into one of the newer applications of blockchain: Voatz, which is offering voting by smartphone app to military servicemembers from West Virginia who are stationed overseas. My... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2018 at Fritinancy
San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center, a 1.2-million-square-foot hub for four Bay Area counties’ bus systems plus intercity Greyhound buses (and light rail, too, eventually), officially opened on August 11 to huge crowds. I skipped the festivities but heard rave reports from friends who'd gone, and so on August 13... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2018 at Fritinancy
The first incident that made national headlines occurred right here in Oakland, directly across Lake Merritt from where I live. On April 29, a white woman later identified as Jennifer Schulte made a 911 call to report that two African American men were barbecuing in an area not designated for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2018 at Fritinancy
The Brazilian footwear brand Havaianas – established in 1962 and sold in the U.S. since 2007 – is synonymous with colorful, rubber-soled flip-flops that sell for $24 and up. (A current model, studded with Swarovski crystals and suitable for wedding parties, will set you back $78 a pair.) I knew... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2018 at Fritinancy
Sorry to Bother You, now in theaters, was filmed in Oakland, California, where I live, with lots of recognizable landmarks in the background. But its characters are citizens of at least one alternate realm as well. The film, written and directed by activist-musician Boots Riley, begins as a workplace comedy... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2018 at Fritinancy
The inspiration for my July column for the Visual Thesaurus came from a magazine ad for a Schick razor. “Shave forwards and backwards” When I worked as a copyeditor, I was trained to lop off the s at the end of words like forward and backward. It’s what American editors... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2018 at Fritinancy
After important events, people often rush to look up unfamiliar words in news coverage. As a public service, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Twitter account often publicizes the top searches. Last Monday, after the two-party summit and press conference in Helsinki, the top look-ups were, in order, treason, abase, traitor, collusion, and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2018 at Fritinancy
Last week wine distributor Lot18 and MGM – producer of the Hulu streaming series The Handmaid’s Tale – announced one of the more harebrained merchandising collabs of recent years: three wines named after the show’s most prominent characters, Offred, Ofglen, and Serena Joy. It went about as badly as you... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2018 at Fritinancy
Do insults sound funnier with a Scottish inflection? They do to many Americans, and even to Brits. As evidence, I direct you to Saturday’s events in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the Trump golf properties in Turnberry and Aberdeenshire, where crowds turned out to mock and protest the visit of the American... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2018 at Fritinancy
The design-critique blog Brand New last week reviewed the new look of LNER, a British railway with a nearly century-old history under various names and owners. The most recent owner was Virgin, which operated the line as Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC); the railway is now owned by the UK’s... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2018 at Fritinancy
Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who became famous as the defense counsel for Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, and other transgressing celebrities, has had his feelings hurt. Although he claims to be a liberal Democrat, Dershowitz has publicly defended the civil liberties of Donald J. Trump, and because of that,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2018 at Fritinancy
I regret that I learned about the fifth Global Fact Checking Summit – indeed, that I learned that there was such a thing as a global fact-checking summit – only after it took place last month. It sure would have been a good excuse to get myself to Rome. (What?... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2018 at Fritinancy
Welcome to 2018, when a U.S. president takes to Twitter to threaten a 115-year-old American company that it will be “taxed like never before!” in retaliation for the company’s decision to move some production to Europe. The decision came after the European Union imposed a 31 percent tariff on imported... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at Fritinancy
“We are living in the age of tacticool, and the AR-15 pattern rifle is the weapon of the age,” wrote Kelsey Atherton and Ian Boudreau in a March 2018 article for Waypoint, the VICE channel for gaming culture. Tacticool, they continued, “has become a widespread aesthetic expression associated with the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2018 at Fritinancy
“The use of rainbows as logo design elements has fallen back almost to its pre-1970s level, while the use of rainbow colors in logos has taken off.” (Emblemetric) Image via Emblemetric * Remember tronc, possibly the worst corporate name ever? You can forget it now. (The Verge) * After 27... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2018 at Fritinancy
I’ve been tracking -ery names for while – see my Pinterest board – and my discovery of Sonoma Brinery sent me down a productive rabbit hole, or holery, that I’ve chronicled in my latest column for the Visual Thesaurus. Full access to the column is restricted to subscribers; here’s an... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2018 at Fritinancy
When does a following become so avid, so unquestioning, so blindly loyal that it deserves to be called a cult? That question, and that label, have spiked in recent discourse. “We’re in a strange place. It’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it?” U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, mused... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2018 at Fritinancy