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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
Almost overnight, it seems, the world has fallen head over heels for Slack. “I am basically in love with Slack,” declares founder Tony Conrad in a testimonial on Slack’s home page. “Slack, a messaging tool designed for team collaboration, is the working digital world’s latest paramour,” writes Scott Rosenberg... Continue reading
Posted 4 hours ago at Fritinancy
Friends, have you ever asked yourselves: “What’s the very best way to express my deep and abiding gratitude for the edifying and entertaining mini-essays and critiques that Fritinancy has been serving us—gratis!—for lo these nine years? Are there no tip jars? Are there no ‘like’ buttons?” No and no, but... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Fritinancy
Dad Bod: “A nice balance between a beer gut and working out.” – Clemson University sophomore Mackenzie Pearson, who popularized the term by writing about it in The Odyssey Online, a publication that serves college communities around the United States. Also spelled dadbod. From Pearson’s essay, published March 31, 2015:... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus expands on a subject I touched on a couple of years ago here on the blog: the curious metamorphosis of the nouns pout and smile. In makeup branding and beauty journalism, pout has become a ubiquitous substitute for mouth; in dental marketing, smile... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2015 at Fritinancy
Trilby: A soft hat, traditionally made of felt, with a narrow brim and indented crown. The trilby hat style takes its name from Trilby, the title and principal character of an 1894 novel by the British writer and caricaturist* George du Maurier (grandfather of Daphne du Maurier). In Du Maurier’s... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2015 at Fritinancy
Trademark “When Simon Tam dropped out of college in California and moved to Portland, Ore., to become a rock star, the last tangle he imagined falling into was a multiyear battle with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over his band’s name.” The trademark tussle over “The Slants,” which the... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2015 at Fritinancy
Weddings are a $55 billion industry in the United States; in 2014 the average wedding—average!—cost about $31,000. Doing their share to boost that sum are wedding magazines: Unlike much of the suffering publishing world, they have a captive, eager, and free-spending readership. Dozens of wedding magazines succeed, month after month,... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2015 at Fritinancy
Mx.: A gender-neutral honorific that may be used in place of “Mr.,” “Mrs., “Miss,” or “Ms.” Pronounced mix or mux. Mx. was in the news this week after Jonathan Dent, assistant editor at the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), told the Sunday Times (UK) that the term is being considered for... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2015 at Fritinancy
If you’re considering a coined name for your company or product, it’s helpful to keep in mind a general rule of English pronunciation: When a vowel precedes a single consonant that’s followed by an e, the first vowel is long. Double the consonant and the vowel becomes shortened. Later: long... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2015 at Fritinancy
This is how you verb your brand name. “This is how you Sonic.” * This is how we verb a place name. “This is how we Vegas.” (Ad for Aria Resort and Casino in San Francisco magazine, May 2015.) * This is how you title an advice book. This Is... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2015 at Fritinancy
Promposal: A staged invitation to a school dance. A portmanteau of prom and proposal. Promposal isn’t new on the American scene—Urban Dictionary’s earliest citation is dated January 22, 2006—but it’s become a more elaborate, more breathlessly reported phenomenon each year. During the week of April 20, 2015, for example, U.S.... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2015 at Fritinancy
I enjoy a little word puzzle as much as, or maybe more than, the next public-transit user. But two Bay Area bus-shelter signs, both for worthy nonprofit organizations, go beyond puzzling to confounding. Here’s the first one: SF Environment, Fillmore Avenue, San Francisco, April 26, 2015. “Do You Really Want... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2015 at Fritinancy
Drought-shaming: Calling public attention to the wasteful use of water during a drought. Drought-shaming gained currency in 2015, as California’s dire lack of rainfall reached crisis proportions. But the concept emerged in 2014, when the state emergency was first declared. “Californians Keep Up with the Joneses’ Water Use,” tsk-tsked a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2015 at Fritinancy
For many of my naming clients, the definition of “an available name” has expanded beyond trademark and domain to include a wide range of social media—not just Twitter and Facebook but also, in some cases, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, and other platforms. Checking each service was a chore until I discovered... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2015 at Fritinancy
There’s lots of advice out there for creating company and product names. (Some of that advice is available right here on this blog.) It’s much harder to find out what to do after you’ve developed and vetted that list of names. How should you reveal your top name candidates to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2015 at Fritinancy
Hokey: Characterized by hokum; sentimental; mawkish; overly contrived, especially to win popular opinion or support; phony. In early citations, sometimes spelled hoky or hokie. 'Hokey" is now a positive political standard: D and R operatives thought HRC's rollout was clever for being hokey. — Elizabeth Drew (@ElizabethDrewOH) April 15,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2015 at Fritinancy
Don’t read “How to Name a Baby” to learn how to name a baby. Read it for insights into historical baby-naming trends and to confirm your hunches (e.g., “the popular girl name Reagan is for Republicans”). Also: charts! * Given names are “one of the last social acceptable frontiers of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2015 at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at the term “sharing economy” and the evolution of share from Old English—where it was a noun meaning “a cutting” or “a shearing”—to its use as a verb in 12-step meetings and beyond. Access is free this month! Here’s an excerpt I’m... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2015 at Fritinancy
Gnomologist: A person who practices gnomology; a collector or researcher of quotations. Coined from the Greek gnome (thought, judgment, saying, or maxim) and the Latin suffix -ologist. Gnomologist first appeared in English in 1813 (“the gnomologists, or versifiers of short moral apophthegms”*); the adjective gnomic showed up two years later.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2015 at Fritinancy
Stan Freberg, a man of myriad talents who was often called “the father of funny advertising,” died Tuesday in Santa Monica. He was 88. Freberg was born in Pasadena and grew up in Los Angeles; he turned down scholarships to Stanford University and the University of Redlands in order to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2015 at Fritinancy
Full-page ad from Adobe Document Cloud in the business section of today’s New York Times: “THIS IS BULL SHEET.” Note that bull is slightly obscured by the folds in the paper. “Bull sheet” is defined in the small type as “tedious paperwork”; sheet is meant to be a punning reference... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2015 at Fritinancy
Infrapreneur: An entrepreneur who specializes in enterprise infrastructure*. Infrapreneur is a blend of two 19th-century additions to English: infrastructure (originally a military term; literally, the installations beneath the structure) and entrepreneur (originally the manager or promoter of a theatrical production, then a business manager in general, and now a person... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at Fritinancy
Gone are the days when an aspiring wine brand had to sound aristocratic. Today’s successful wines have names like Jealous Bitch, The Ball Buster, and Le Vin de Merde. “Dirty Wine,” my new post on the Strong Language blog, examines the trend and catalogues the players. Take a look, but... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2015 at Fritinancy
Two German companies. Two ads. Two strikingly—suspiciously?—similar slogans. “The Ultimate Lighting Machines.” Holtkötter. Page 161, New York Times T Magazine, March 22, 2015. In non-logo appearances, the name is spelled Holtkoetter. “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” Screen grab from the 30-second BMW “Hello Future” spot that aired during the 2015 Super... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2015 at Fritinancy
Kipe (also kype): To pilfer or steal; to swipe. North American slang (20th century). Kipe is a word I associate with my childhood—it was a word used only by kids—but have heard only rarely since. Indeed, I’d have laid odds that the word was as dead as gadzooks or prithee.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2015 at Fritinancy