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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
Here on the ’tis beat, we have a zero-tolerance policy. As Baltimore Sun copyeditor John McIntyre has repeatedly reminded us in his roundup of holiday clichés: “’Tis the season”: Not in copy, not in headlines, not at all. Never, never, never, never, never. You cannot make this fresh. Do not... Continue reading
Posted 7 hours ago at Fritinancy
Words of the year from around the globe! * As usual, Oxford Dictionaries was first out of the gate, nearly a month ago, with its WOTY choices. And the winner was… vape. As e-cigarettes (or e-cigs) have become much more common, so vapehas grown significantly in popularity. You are thirty... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Fritinancy
Cromnibus: The $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 11 and by the Senate on December 13. The word is a portmanteau of omnibus bill (per Vox, “how Congress funds the government when things are working normally”—which in recent sessions is never) and the... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at the most interesting and significant brand names of 2014. Not, I hasten to add, the biggest or most successful brands, but the ones that were “newly prominent or notable” (per the American Dialect Society’s criteria for words of the year) and... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Fritinancy
Once I saw this name as “re-addle,” I couldn’t see it any other way. Readdle: productivity apps for iPad and iPhone Addle now means “confuse,” but that’s not how it started out. Here’s the Online Etymology Dictionary: addle (v.) 1712, from addle (n.) “urine, liquid filth,” from Old English adela... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at Fritinancy
Trimmigrant: A person who travels to a cannabis-growing region during harvest season to trim marijuana buds and get them ready for market. A blend of trim and immigrant, although the workers may be native-born Americans from outside the region. Olivia Cueva of Youth Radio reported on December 4, 2014: California’s... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2014 at Fritinancy
And not just any cartoonist, either. Bob Mankoff is the cartoon editor of the New Yorker, which means that, among his many other duties, he judges the magazine’s weekly caption contest. Since the contest went weekly in 2004, readers have submitted more than two million entries. Inevitably, Mankoff has pondered... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2014 at Fritinancy
The American Name Society is accepting nominations for Names of the Year, with the winners to be announced at the society’s annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, on January 9, 2015. Anyone can play; submit your nominations no later than January 7. Here are my own nominations in the categories established... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at Fritinancy
Endling: The last individual of a species. Coined from end and the suffix -ling, indicating possession of a quality (compare yearling, weakling, earthling). Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island giant tortoise, died in the Galápagos on June 24, 2012. Photo via New Statesman. Writing in the New Statesman, Helen Lewis... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at Fritinancy
Has it really been a whole year since Thanksgivvukah? Friendsgiving, on the other hand, is timeless. How the turkey brand Butterball got its name. A toast to (or with) Cranpagne. And other cran-things. Turducken, anyone? Or turbaconducken? Or would you prefer some veggieducken? With cherpumple for dessert? This year's version:... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2014 at Fritinancy
Pre-cation: An employer-mandated vacation taken before the start of a new job. Sometimes spelled precation. The coinage of pre-cation has been attributed to Tom Freedman, co-founder and CEO of 42floors, a San Francisco-based commercial real-estate search engine. In a September 30, 2014, article in Slate, Will Oremus quoted Freedman, who... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2014 at Fritinancy
In Fort Collins, Colorado, a Mexican restaurant chain called Illegal Pete’s is being targeted by immigrant-rights groups that say the name is derogatory and offensive because of “the i word,” as in “illegal immigrant.” The chain’s owner, Pete Turner, opened the first Illegal Pete’s in 1995; he told the New... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2014 at Fritinancy
My November column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at British (or “chiefly British”) words that are increasingly popular among American slingers of marketing lingo. These words—from bespoke to stockist—are often employed, I write, “to sound old, established, or ‘classy.’ Then again, sometimes a Britishism simply fills a gap in the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2014 at Fritinancy
Enallage: Substitution of one grammatical form for another that violates a grammatical rule. Pronounced almost exactly like analogy, but from a different Greek source, ἐναλλαγή, which means “change.” (Analogy can be traced back to ἀναλογία, which means mathematical proportion or correspondence.) I learned enallage only recently, but it turns out... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2014 at Fritinancy
From A-bomb to to zoom: the Weed Blog’s extensive—indeed, staggering—lexicon of slang terms for marijuana. (I discussed one of those terms, 420, in a post published earlier this week.) * Speaking of specialized lexicons, check out The D.C. Manual of Style and Usage, Washington City Paper’s entertainingly written and copiously... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2014 at Fritinancy
Last week voters in Alaska and Oregon legalized the sale and use of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. Pending Congressional review, the District of Columbia will soon legalize limited possession and cultivation of marijuana. That means nearly half of the 50 states have decriminalized some form of the sale... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2014 at Fritinancy
Sugar dating: “Pay-for-play relationships between older, wealthy adults (sugar daddies/mommas) and attractive young women and men (sugar babies).” (Source: Newsweek, September 9, 2014) “Sugar” has been slang for “money” since at least the mid-nineteenth century; “sugar daddy” (an older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman) was originally American... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at Fritinancy
Four new F-word sightings in the public square, from coy rebus to unexpurgated vulgarism. “Who the [fork] will win?” Ad for the Bravo TV series “Best New Restaurant,” premiering January 21. (Thanks to Karen Wise for the tip.) * A Merry Friggin’ Christmas, in theaters and on demand today. Rated... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2014 at Fritinancy
My friend Suzanne Mantell is a rare-book dealer, and every so often I’m the beneficiary of one of her finds. The latest is a real gem hiding behind a pedestrian title: Dictionary of Trade Name Origins, by the late British onomastician (scholar of names) and toponymist (place-name expert) Adrian Room.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2014 at Fritinancy
Sea lioning: In social media, pestering a target with unsolicited questions delivered with a false air of civility. Via Chez Apocalypse.* “Sea lioning” is a very recent neologism inspired by a September 19 cartoon, “The Terrible Sea Lion,” by David Malki, who blogs at Wondermark. “This comic is the most... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at Fritinancy
For more than five years I’ve kept a tally of mister brand names—Mr. Tea, Mr. Bra, Mr. Noodle, Mr. Handyman, et al. Lately, I’ve discovered that “mister” is démodé: all the cool generic brands have gone to grad school and earned doctorates. For example: * Dr. Fone calls itself “the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2014 at Fritinancy
Furcifer: A yoke-bearer; a fork-user; a rascal or scoundrel. From Latin furca, a fork. Furcifer is archaic enough to be ignored by the online OED, which gives definitions only for some of its relatives (furcate: to divide into branches; furciferous: descriptive of certain butterflies that bear a forked process). Furcifer’s... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2014 at Fritinancy
Last week the mail brought a sample of Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash with NutriumMoisture [sic]. Yes, I puzzled briefly over “Nutrium” (the singular form of nutria?) and the “moisture” redundancy,* but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Here’s the package insert. “We’re excited for you... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2014 at Fritinancy
Whole Foods launched its first national ad campaign this week, using a new themeline: “Values Matter.” The ads, created by New York agency Partners & Spade, are upbeat and mostly unobjectionable. “Eat Like an Idealist,” says one. “Healthy Food Does Good,” says another. Then there’s this one: “Grow Up Strong... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at Fritinancy
Quarantine: A period of enforced isolation or restriction of movement to prevent the spread of infectious disease. From Italian quarantina, a 40-day period. “Quarantine” has spiked recently because of news coverage of the Ebola virus, which originated in West Africa—the virus was named for for what researchers believed to be... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2014 at Fritinancy