This is Nancy Friedman's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Nancy Friedman's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
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
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 yesterday at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at ish, a flexible little suffix with multiple meanings that’s increasingly seen in titles (ABC-TV’s “Black-ish”), brand names (the Berkeley bookstore Bookish, the Oakland T-shirt company Oaklandish, the vintage-furniture etailer Chairish), and brand descriptors (anonymish). In some places, ish has even attained... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Fritinancy
When McDonald’s met Play-Doh, and other examples of peculiar co-branding. (Marketplace) * Forward thinking, incremental thinking, and three other proven alternatives to brainstorming. (Strategy+Business) * Worst. Infographics. Ever. (WTF Visualizations, via The Guardian, via Paul Wiggins) Bad math, bad spelling, and … chickens? Many more like this at WTF Visualizations.... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Fritinancy
Raffish: Disreputable, vulgar, sleazy; also (and more commonly now) mischievous, offbeat, showing an attractive disregard for conventional behavior. I’ve been doing some research into brand names that end in -ish, so a recent tweet from word guy James Harbeck caught my attention: The adjectival suffix -ish signifies “having the qualities... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2014 at Fritinancy
I’m serious. Everywhere. * First sighting: in a story from early September about a BBC radio announcer (oops, presenter) who admitted snorting a drug called mephedrone—street name “meow meow.” Precisely how meow meow got that sobriquet is subject to some debate, but it may derive from the drug’s chemical name,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2014 at Fritinancy
If you needed proof that “ass” and its variants (kick-ass, bad-ass, Big Ass) have become unexceptional in mainstream US advertising, here’s a new Verizon ad that tells customers they can “stop living with half-fast Internet.” Geddit? “Half-assed,” haha. Via Language Log.The comments are worth reading. For additional examples of commercial... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2014 at Fritinancy
Estivate: To spend the summer (in a special place, for example); to pass the summer in a dormant or torpid state (zoological usage). From Latin aestus, summer. Compare hibernate (to pass the winter in a dormant state). Estivate doesn’t often find its way into everyday parlance, but I came across... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at Fritinancy
As I’ve said before, quirky, “kree8tive” spellings do not facilitate trademark protection. But can a misspelled name help your brand rise to the top of search rankings? Alas, no. And yet this myth persists among people who should know better. I encountered both misconceptions—trademarkability and searchability—this week in a Brand... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Fritinancy
Dumped by parent company Kellogg in 2002 and briefly revived in 2008, the Hydrox cookie will make a comeback this fall. Cue the “Hydrox Redux” headlines! The dead Hydrox trademark was acquired in 2013 byLeaf Brands, a candy company in Newport Coast (Orange County), California, that is also reviving several... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at Fritinancy
Churnalism: “Journalism that churns out articles based on wire stories and press releases, rather than original reporting.” (Source: Word Spy.) A portmanteau of churn and journalism. I spotted churnalism last week in an FT Magazine story about the blurring of lines between journalism and PR. The story, by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2014 at Fritinancy
Here’s a late addition to my National Punctuation Day roundup of quirkily punctuated brand names. This one comes with such a good story that I decided to give it its own post. * Specialty’s Café and Bakery, which has 48 locations in California, Washington, and Illinois, has been puzzling proofreaders... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2014 at Fritinancy
Today is National Punctuation Day, a semi-whimsical holiday invented in 2004 by journalist and marketing guy Jeff Rubin. I leave it to others to wail over missing commas and misplaced apostrophes. I celebrate in my own way: by recognizing creative, quirky, and mysterious punctuation in logos, brand names, and marketing... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2014 at Fritinancy
Titch: A small person. This sense of titch* was new to me until very recently, when I encountered it in a brief New York Times Sunday Magazine story about Fatyo, a Japanese retailer that specializes in apparel that is—quoting directly now from the Fatyo website—“Metropolitan, tough. Real and daily, casual... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at Fritinancy
A postscript to yesterday’s post about pumpkin (verb) and pumpkin spice latte (beverage): Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Lingua Franca blog, William Germano questions the grammar and logic of “PSL” and unhyphenated “pumpkin spice.” Starbucks has hailed the return of the beverage with big signs for “PSL.” Is... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2014 at Fritinancy
I spotted a seasonable new verb in the window of Noah’s New York Bagels in Montclair Village (Oakland): “Prepare to Pumpkin” Unlike the store window, the company website refrains from squash-verbing, or verb-squashing: it simply and modestly claims that “Pumpkin Is Here.” The bounty includes pumpkin bagels, pumpkin shmear, pumpkin... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2014 at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “Going Medieval: The Revival of ‘Apothecary’,” is now live—and this month, you don’t have to be a subscriber to read it. (But of course you should subscribe anyway, right?) In the column, I expand on a Word of the Week entry from earlier... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2014 at Fritinancy
Validate: To make legally valid; to sanction; to confirm or corroborate; to authorize; to verify. (“The court validated the contract”; “The judge validated the election”). From Latin validatus, participle form of validus: strong, powerful, effective. Related to valiant. Those are the primary definitions of validate in all of the major... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2014 at Fritinancy
Further journeyings in the land of the blend: 1. Kidvasion is a month-long promotion of the San Diego Tourism Authority. This blend is what The Name Inspector would call awkwordplay: a mismatch in syllable emphasis. In one of the blended words, invasion, the stress falls on the second syllable; but... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2014 at Fritinancy
It’s the branding question of the week: Why didn’t Apple name its new wearable wrist-thing an “iWatch”? iNames, RIP. — John Gruber (@gruber) September 9, 2014 Since Apple’s announcement of the Apple Watch on Tuesday, tech journalists have been digging for answers. One of them, Rebecca Greenfield of Fast Company,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at Fritinancy
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which became the national anthem of the United States in 1931. In Baltimore, where Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics, celebrations and historic events began on Flag Day, June 14, and will continue through Defender’s Day,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at Fritinancy
Single-sole: Descriptive of a shoe style without a platform sole. Usually seen as a modifier for pumps or heels. “Single-sole” is a retronym: a “throwback-compound” that differentiates the original form of a word from a more recent version. (In a 2007 New York Times columnabout retronyms, the late language maven... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at Fritinancy
The skincare brand Vichy was new to me when I spotted it at Walgreen’s last weekend. Vichy display at Walgreen’s. The headline strikes me as not quite idiomatic: “transforms” generally doesn’t take “to.” But Vichy is not a new brand: it was born in 1931, when a Parisian cosmetics manufacturer,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at Fritinancy
In April, Microsoft announced the launch of Cortana, its new digital personal assistant for Windows Phone 8.1. Like the iPhone’s Siri, Cortana takes feminine pronouns. Some examples (cute or smarmy, depending on your perspective) from the Windows Phone website: “Before you can get all the goodies Cortana has to offer,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2014 at Fritinancy
Ammosexual: A person who exhibits an extreme love of firearms, possibly to the point of fetishization. Coined from ammunition and sexual, with sonic overtones of homosexual. On June 6, 2014, Bill Maher, comedian and host of the late-night talk show “Real Time,” derided proponents of “open carry” laws that would... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2014 at Fritinancy
This “Charlotte’s Web” isn’t the beloved children’s book by E.B. White. But it does have a connection to childhood. Some background first: The five Stanley brothers of Wray, Colorado, grow medicinal marijuana in greenhouses and—now that medical and recreational cannabis are legal in Colorado—outdoors. Federal law prohibits them from shipping... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2014 at Fritinancy