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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
My new column for the Visual Thesaurus considers a batch of new brand names, including Mr. Cooper (the insurance company formerly known as Nationstar), Penny (a personal- finance app), Dave (another personal-finance app), Oscar (a health-insurance company), June (an “intelligent oven”), and Alexa (the Amazon device). All of these names... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Fritinancy
It’s not uncommon for words originally used as slurs to be reclaimed with pride by the targeted group. Queer was reappropriated by gay people, deplorable by Trump supporters, and Impressionist by 19th-century artists. It’s much less common for a pejorative term to be reclaimed twice. Yet that’s what’s happened with... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Fritinancy
I had a little extra time before meeting a friend at SFMOMA to see the “Soundtracks” exhibit (highly recommended), so I took a detour through for the food court of the Westfield San Francisco Centre on Market Street, looking for interesting brands. I scored right away. “Interesting” doesn’t even begin... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2017 at Fritinancy
On Saturday, the technology blog Motherboard reported on a document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” that had been posted by an unnamed male software engineer on a company mailing list and had subsequently gone “internally viral.” By the end of the day, another tech blog, Gizmodo, had published the complete... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2017 at Fritinancy
The naming brief was comprehensive and clear, except for one line toward the end: “No names that begin with A, B, or F.” Wait. What? Curious about the prohibition, I emailed the client – a native English speaker, by the way. The response: “I’m not a fan of brand names... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2017 at Fritinancy
After seven years of Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act – probably the signature legislative accomplishment of President Obama’s first term – and two failed attempts this year by the Republican-majority to repeal and replace the law, U.S. senators prepared to spend most of July 27 in a marathon... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2017 at Fritinancy
Linguist Arnold Zwicky examines the “ostentatious euphemism” beat the snack out of, as seen in a recent Jack Link’s ad. I’ve written about ostentatious euphemisms myself – “Ship my pants,” “Look at the booking view,” “Do you give a cup?” – and am glad to know what to call them.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2017 at Fritinancy
The perfectly calibrated insult is a rara avis nowadays – ass- and douche- compounds don’t really count – so when someone resurrects an elegant 16th-century epithet, attention must be paid. So: Scaramucci will be fine working with Reince. Even if Reince continues to loathe the popinjay. — Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon)... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at Fritinancy
Until the 1990s, if you lived in the U.S. and needed a new mattress you probably began and ended your search with the letter S. Simmons (founded in 1870), Sealy (1881), and Serta (1931) were the CBS, NBC, and ABC of the mattress world: anything else was on the far... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2017 at Fritinancy
I first encountered overstand only recently, while I was catching up on the most recent season of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix. When I heard the word twice in that episode, I wondered whether it was a Kimmyism like “What the fudge?” or “Troll the respawn.” But no: overstand... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2017 at Fritinancy
When is a billboard not a billboard? When it’s a freakin’ 227-word manifesto – 239 if you include the headline. “This is our only billboard. We need it to say a lot.” No you don’t. Yes, I counted the words in this screwy outdoor ad from Public Mobile, a Canadian... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2017 at Fritinancy
If we’ve learned anything in the last nine months, it’s that there’s no such thing as a slow news day anymore. Take yesterday, a midsummer Sunday. At about 4:30 Eastern Daylight Time, the New York Times published a front-page story that astonished even those of us who thought we’d become... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2017 at Fritinancy
My new column for the Visual Thesaurus – where I’ve been a contributor for 11 years – is about the shifting meaning of failure. A relatively recent addition to English, failure first appeared in the early 18th century, when it had the very specific meaning of “the act of failing... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2017 at Fritinancy
The Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice – literally, “the point at which the sun seems to stand still” – occurred at 9:24 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, June 20. But for some brands, the solstice never ends. 2013 Northern Solstice Rose from Martha Clara Vineyard on Long Island, New York. (“The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2017 at Fritinancy
After a gunman opened fire June 14 on a Republican congressional baseball practice, responses from the public and the media tended to focus less on American gundamentalism than on the mood that fuels it. One word was used over and over to describe that mood: vitriol. “It didn’t take long... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2017 at Fritinancy
Fox News is dropping its “Fair & Balanced” slogan, which was invented by Roger Ailes when he launched the network in 1996. Ailes died last month. “In the annals of modern advertising, ‘Fair & Balanced’ will be considered a classic,” writes Gabriel Sherman for New York. “The slogan was Ailes’s... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2017 at Fritinancy
The fidget spinner – a handheld, two- or three-pronged gadget with a ball bearing in its center that makes the prongs go around very fast – is this year’s toy fad, popular with school-age kids and sometimes touted as a stress reliever for people of all ages. Versions are available... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2017 at Fritinancy
I’ve been holding my tongue and staying my pen since January, when Fiverr – the online marketplace that matches skinflint budget-conscious business owners with freelancers willing to work for as little as $5 a gig* – launched its first ad campaign, “In Doers We Trust.” But my initial distaste for... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2017 at Fritinancy
Interviewed on May 31 at a media and technology conference hosted by Recode, former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “spoke at length about Russian involvement in the 201 [presidential] contest,” according to a New York Times report. “How did they know what messages to deliver?” Clinton asked.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2017 at Fritinancy
Stephanie Campisi notified me via Twitter of a name change she found noteworthy: Lystable is now Kalo. I’d missed the news, but I was intrigued enough to do some digging. What I found were some lessons in how not to name a company and how not to introduce a new... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2017 at Fritinancy
When is a press briefing not a briefing? When it’s a gaggle, sometimes held en route to somewhere, sometimes in the James Brady Press Briefing Room, sometimes excluding the biggest media outlets in the U.S. “White House Excludes Several Outlets From Press Gaggle,” NBC News, February 27, 2017 A Wikipedia... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2017 at Fritinancy
Should you spend $1.5 million on a domain? Almost certainly not. As A Hundred Monkeys puts it: “While your emotions should guide you in naming dogs, kids, and boats, they need to take a back seat while you mull over dropping seven figures on a domain.” * An illustrated glossary... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2017 at Fritinancy
A tweet from @Mededitor last month sent me down the vegan equivalent of a rabbit hole. @Fritinancy @LouiseHarnby @stronglang @gdoslang You get the sense that FoodKick is channeling the voice of Thug Kitchen: — Mededitor (@Mededitor) April 11, 2017 I’d written about Thug Kitchen a few years ago, but... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2017 at Fritinancy
(Part of my Naming 101 series.) I frequently talk with company founders and executives who need a new name but don’t have the budget for professional naming services. Because I believe that everyone deserves an effective, appealing name, I do my best to show them how to tackle the challenge... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2017 at Fritinancy
America, we have lately been told – mostly but not exclusively by conservatives – has a “smug liberal” problem. The problem is characterized by “a condescending, defensive sneer toward any person or movement outside of its consensus, dressed up as a monopoly on reason,” wrote Emmett Rensin in Vox last... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2017 at Fritinancy