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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
“Most verbs stay basically the same in different grammatical roles. ‘Walk’ looks like ‘walks’ and ‘walked.’ But the word ‘be’ looks nothing like the word ‘am,’ which looks nothing like the word ‘were.’” (Arika Okrent for Curiosity.) * When I wrote about mansplain, in September 2010, the earliest citation I... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Fritinancy
“Is there a Trump firing bracket?” asked Josh Marshall, the editor and publisher of Turning Points Memo on Twitter. It was the beginning of March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball championship, and the middle – or the beginning of the middle, or the end of the beginning – of a... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Fritinancy
According to business-etiquette experts Barbara Pachter and Will Schwalbe, starting an email with “Dear ___” will likely be perceived as “old-fashioned” or “a bit too formal.” Much safer, they tell Business Insider, to use “Hi.” Tell that to the people coming up with titles for new or recent movies, TV... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Fritinancy
My recent explorations of sicko and rhino led me to wonder about other words that end in -o and how they arrived in English. Those words are the subject of my latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “The Story of -o.” Full access is restricted to subscribers for three months;... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2018 at Fritinancy
You know it as a shorter, simpler way to say “rhinoceros.” But in the 17th and 18th centuries rhino was slang for “money,” and the related adjective rhinocerical was slang for “wealthy.” And no one is sure why. These are not the rhinos you’re looking for. (But they sure are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2018 at Fritinancy
(Part of my Naming 101 series.) As trademark lawyers love to remind us, distinctiveness is a paramount goal of brand naming. A name doesn’t need to be original – consider Dove deodorant and Dove chocolate — but it does need to stand out in its category. But can a name... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2018 at Fritinancy
The third season of “unREAL,” the Lifetime drama that’s set behind the scenes at a fictitious dating show called “Everlasting,” premiered last week. The previous two seasons were satires of the long-running not-unreal “reality” show “The Bachelor,” with a single “suitor” choosing from among a bevy of competing women. This... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2018 at Fritinancy
Every year Fast Company publishes a list it calls World’s Most Innovative Companies: “more than 350 enterprises across 36 categories,” including biotech, finance, retail, and space, as well as five geographic sectors (Africa, China, India, Israel, and Latin America). I’ll leave the innovation metric to FC’s editors; what I wanted... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2018 at Fritinancy
On February 22 – the birthday of America’s first president, George Washington – @RealDonaldTrump rose early and poked out a farrago of tweets – seven in all – proffering his theories about guns, schools, and a “GREAT DETERRENT” (his capitalization) to massacres like the one that occurred on Valentine’s Day... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2018 at Fritinancy
The Oscar-nominated 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has inspired at least two real-world imitations, reports AdWeek. After the shooting massacre in a Parkland, Florida, high school, the group Progressive Turnout Project placed a billboard with a gun-reform challenge outside the Janesville, Wisconsin, office of House Speaker Paul Ryan,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2018 at Fritinancy
On Wednesday, Valentine’s Day 2018, a 19-year-old armed with an AR-15 assault rifle entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and opened fire. By the time he dumped his rifle and attempted to flee, he’d killed 17 people, mostly teenagers, and injured more than a dozen. Mass shootings... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2018 at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at numbers from a non-mathematical perspective: as words and names. I include commentary on some numeric names I’ve written about here, including 605, SENS8, 23, and 427. Original 420 Brand CBD gummies. For more on 420 as shorthand for “cannabis,” see my... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2018 at Fritinancy
When does a madeupical holiday become a genuine holiday? We can quibble over criteria, but a Hallmark home-page promotion is probably the smooch of validation.* Like Chrismukkah and Festivus before it, Galentine’s Day was invented by television writers – in this case, Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, creators of “Parks... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2018 at Fritinancy
I’ll get into the whence and wherefore of this brand name in just a bit. But before I do, an observation: It’s never a good idea to pick a name for your company and its namesake product that is also the name of a widely promoted festish-y photo site. Needless... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2018 at Fritinancy
Such a lovely-sounding word; such a subtle, complex, and nearly universal emotion: “acute vexation, annoyance, or mortification, arising from disappointment, thwarting, or failure,” as the OED puts it*; “disquietude or distress of mind caused by humiliation, disappointment, or failure,” according to Merriam-Webster. It found its way into English from French... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2018 at Fritinancy
Groundhog Day seems like an appropriate occasion to talk about “One X at a time,” the sloganclone that, like Punxsutawney Phil, keeps popping up. Year after year I point with alarm. And yet the formula thrives, in sunshine and shadow, in winter, spring, summer, and fall. I feel like such... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2018 at Fritinancy
“We kind of gave him—‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,’” Tony Perkins, the president of the conservative Family Research Council, told Politico’s Isaac Dovere last Tuesday. By “him” Perkins meant the president of the United States. Perkins used the same term in an interview that... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2018 at Fritinancy
Is an Eataly ad for truffles offensive to Italians and Italian-Americans? (Chicago Tribune) * Six-second versions of classic fairy tales. (Adweek) * Inside the style guide of the Daily Stormer, “a relatively popular neo-Nazi blog.” (Andrew Marantz, New Yorker) * Greece and Macedonia are fighting over the latter nation’s name:... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2018 at Fritinancy
On January 14, David and Louise Turpin – the parents of 13 children, ages 2 to 29 – were arrested in Perris (Riverside County), California, and later charged with multiple counts of false imprisonment, child abuse, and torture. The children had been starved, beaten, chained to their beds, and permitted... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2018 at Fritinancy
You probably remember the story about the guy who’s sent to prison and, on his first night behind bars, is baffled when his cellmate shouts out “TWELVE!” and is greeted with raucous laughter. Another inmate shouts “TWENTY-TWO!” and gets the same reaction. Up and down the cellblock: “THREE!” “FOURTEEN!” “THIRTY-ONE!”... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2018 at Fritinancy
It’s shaping up to be a shitty year, and I’m not talking about the weather or those ridiculous sleeves on women’s clothing. So far we’ve seen shitpost anointed the digital word of the year by the American Dialect Society, and a list of “Shitty Media Men” making headlines when Harper’s... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2018 at Fritinancy
One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was about passion. Not the carnal sort, mind you, but the passion that’s become a cliché on corporate websites and in training seminars and, of course, all over LinkedIn. A passion for accounting. A passion for petroleum economics. A passion... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2018 at Fritinancy
What do the former CEOs of Uber and SoFi have in common with the presidents of Zimbabwe and Catalonia, the political director of CBS News, an FBI agent working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and a one-time “reality”-TV celebrity recently in the employ of the White House? All of them... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2018 at Fritinancy
How best to mark the end of the shitshow that was 2017? With a pilgrimage to an institution that mocks and celebrates all manner of flops, lemons, fiascos, misfires, and fuckups, of course. Which is how I found myself last week at the Museum of Failure in downtown Los Angeles’s... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2018 at Fritinancy
On January 5, at its annual meeting in Salt Lake City, the American Name Society will select its names of the year for 2017. Names of the year are those “that best illustrate, through their creation and/or use during the past 12 months, important trends in the culture of the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2017 at Fritinancy