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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
Spotted sharing a bookshelf in the fiction section at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon: four titles that, when read in sequence, form a set of instructions. How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran. Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham (whose series for HBO is, of... Continue reading
Posted 2 hours ago at Fritinancy
My latest post for Strong Language (“a sweary blog about swearing”) is about Sofa King: “a real brand, a parody brand, a tribute brand, a song title, the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit, and the punchline to a joke.” SNL may have popularized Sofa King, but there had... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Fritinancy
Hobson-Jobson: The title of a lexicon of words of South Asian origin, compiled by Henry Yule and A.C. Burnell, that were used by the British during in India. The title is the English rendering of “yā ħassan! yā ħussayn! (“O Hassan! O Hussein!”), a cry uttered by Shia Muslims during... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Fritinancy
For your weekend reading, may I recommend “The Weird Science of Naming New Products,” a longish story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about my favorite subject: naming. The article, by the cultural critic and author Neal Gabler, is essentially a case study of how one Palo Alto technology... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at Fritinancy
Two years ago, the American Dialect Society selected hashtag as its word of the year for 2012. Last week, for its 2014 word of the year, the ADS chose an actual hashtag, #blacklivesmatter, the slogan that—as the press release put it—“took on special significance in 2014 after the deaths of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2015 at Fritinancy
Growlette: A reusable 32-ounce jug, usually glass, that can be filled with beer or other beverages. Formed by adding a diminutive suffix to growler, the 64-ounce version of the jug. The earliest citation I’ve found for growlette—and a possible source for the coinage—is from August 2011, when Throwback Brewery, in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2015 at Fritinancy
This week a San Francisco startup, Marvina, launched its subscription delivery service for medical marijuana. For $95, $175, or $325 a month, San Franciscans who are qualified under California’s Compassionate Use Act can receive 7, 14, or 28 “top-shelf” grams of cannabis, tastefully packaged and delivered to their doors by... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2015 at Fritinancy
Hot damn! I have a new post up on Strong Language, the newish “sweary blog about swearing.” This time I’ve written about brand names like Mother Pucker, Mother Clucker, Mother Effer, and MoFo. Guess what they have in common? Read “So Many Mother _uckers” and share it with your mother,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at Fritinancy
Sad Internet: “A place full of unwatched videos, unliked photographs, unheard music, tweets that no one cared about, and crowdfunding projects that nobody backed.” – Rob Walker. In an article for Yahoo! Tech published last week, Rob Walker takes a mournful look at websites that fit neither of the Internet’s... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at Fritinancy
I have a soft spot for very old words and idioms that are kept alive in contemporary brand names. Like this one: Hue & Cry Security Systems, spotted in Oakland, California. Hue and cry first appeared in English in the late 13th century “as an Anglo-French legal term meaning ‘outcry... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2015 at Fritinancy
Toddy: A beverage made from distilled spirits (especially whiskey), with hot water, sugar, and (usually) lemon juice. Also spelled tottie and totty. Toddy is one of the many common English words imported from Hindi during the centuries of British trade and, ultimately, rule in the subcontinent. (Other imports from Hindi... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2014 at Fritinancy
My first post for Strong Language (“a sweary blog about swearing”) is up today. It’s not exactly about swearing per se but rather about the use of a vulgar idiom, a pot to piss in, in the headline of an ad for antique silver that appeared in the New Yorker... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2014 at Fritinancy
Hoist the bare aluminum pole, my friends: today is Festivus, which means it’s time once again for my favorite holiday tradition, The Airing of Grievances. For this year’s A of G—the sixth in a series—I’ve gathered some of the worst offenders from the world of marketing: the gaffes, goofs, and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2014 at Fritinancy
Gefatke: A pancake made of chopped fish and grated potatoes. A portmanteau of gefilte (literally “stuffed”) fish and latke; both words are Yiddish in origin. “We already have the Cronut, crookie and pretzel croissant,” writes Michele Henry, a staff reporter for the Toronto Star. “Why not the gefatke? Or is... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2014 at Fritinancy
“There seems to be no leading candidate for Word (or Phrase) of the Year,” writes Allan Metcalf, executive director of the American Dialect Society, in the Lingua Franca blog. That lack, he maintains, “will make discussion and voting more lively” at the ADS’s annual meeting in Portland next month. No... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at Fritinancy
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 Dec 18, 2014 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 Dec 16, 2014 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 Dec 15, 2014 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 Dec 12, 2014 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