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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
In Fort Collins, Colorado, a Mexican restaurant chain called Illegal Pete’s is being targeted by immigrant-rights groups that say the name is derogatory and offensive because of “the i word,” as in “illegal immigrant.” The chain’s owner, Pete Turner, opened the first Illegal Pete’s in 1995; he told the New... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Fritinancy
My November column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at British (or “chiefly British”) words that are increasingly popular among American slingers of marketing lingo. These words—from bespoke to stockist—are often employed, I write, “to sound old, established, or ‘classy.’ Then again, sometimes a Britishism simply fills a gap in the... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
Enallage: Substitution of one grammatical form for another that violates a grammatical rule. Pronounced almost exactly like analogy, but from a different Greek source, ἐναλλαγή, which means “change.” (Analogy can be traced back to ἀναλογία, which means mathematical proportion or correspondence.) I learned enallage only recently, but it turns out... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Fritinancy
From A-bomb to to zoom: the Weed Blog’s extensive—indeed, staggering—lexicon of slang terms for marijuana. (I discussed one of those terms, 420, in a post published earlier this week.) * Speaking of specialized lexicons, check out The D.C. Manual of Style and Usage, Washington City Paper’s entertainingly written and copiously... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2014 at Fritinancy
Last week voters in Alaska and Oregon legalized the sale and use of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. Pending Congressional review, the District of Columbia will soon legalize limited possession and cultivation of marijuana. That means nearly half of the 50 states have decriminalized some form of the sale... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2014 at Fritinancy
Sugar dating: “Pay-for-play relationships between older, wealthy adults (sugar daddies/mommas) and attractive young women and men (sugar babies).” (Source: Newsweek, September 9, 2014) “Sugar” has been slang for “money” since at least the mid-nineteenth century; “sugar daddy” (an older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman) was originally American... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at Fritinancy
Four new F-word sightings in the public square, from coy rebus to unexpurgated vulgarism. “Who the [fork] will win?” Ad for the Bravo TV series “Best New Restaurant,” premiering January 21. (Thanks to Karen Wise for the tip.) * A Merry Friggin’ Christmas, in theaters and on demand today. Rated... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2014 at Fritinancy
My friend Suzanne Mantell is a rare-book dealer, and every so often I’m the beneficiary of one of her finds. The latest is a real gem hiding behind a pedestrian title: Dictionary of Trade Name Origins, by the late British onomastician (scholar of names) and toponymist (place-name expert) Adrian Room.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2014 at Fritinancy
Sea lioning: In social media, pestering a target with unsolicited questions delivered with a false air of civility. Via Chez Apocalypse.* “Sea lioning” is a very recent neologism inspired by a September 19 cartoon, “The Terrible Sea Lion,” by David Malki, who blogs at Wondermark. “This comic is the most... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at Fritinancy
For more than five years I’ve kept a tally of mister brand names—Mr. Tea, Mr. Bra, Mr. Noodle, Mr. Handyman, et al. Lately, I’ve discovered that “mister” is démodé: all the cool generic brands have gone to grad school and earned doctorates. For example: * Dr. Fone calls itself “the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2014 at Fritinancy
Furcifer: A yoke-bearer; a fork-user; a rascal or scoundrel. From Latin furca, a fork. Furcifer is archaic enough to be ignored by the online OED, which gives definitions only for some of its relatives (furcate: to divide into branches; furciferous: descriptive of certain butterflies that bear a forked process). Furcifer’s... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2014 at Fritinancy
Last week the mail brought a sample of Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash with NutriumMoisture [sic]. Yes, I puzzled briefly over “Nutrium” (the singular form of nutria?) and the “moisture” redundancy,* but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Here’s the package insert. “We’re excited for you... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2014 at Fritinancy
Whole Foods launched its first national ad campaign this week, using a new themeline: “Values Matter.” The ads, created by New York agency Partners & Spade, are upbeat and mostly unobjectionable. “Eat Like an Idealist,” says one. “Healthy Food Does Good,” says another. Then there’s this one: “Grow Up Strong... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at Fritinancy
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 Oct 20, 2014 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 Oct 17, 2014 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 Oct 16, 2014 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