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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
One side of a sandwich board in front of the John Fluevog store on Grant Avenue, San Francisco: “Know You’re Weird!” The other side: “No, You’re Weird!” The resemblance to the “Keep Calm and Carry On” oeuvre is probably not coincidental, but the weirdness and wordplay are pure Fluevog. The... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Fritinancy
I’ve been collecting examples of strikethrough in print advertising for several years now.. The latest examples to have caught my eye are ads for the PBS production of “Wolf Hall,” based on the Hilary Mantel novels about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII, and Anne Boleyn. (This is not the production that’s... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
Libel tourism: “The act of suing a writer for alleged defamation in a foreign jurisdiction where there are weak libel laws.” (Source: Often, that jurisdiction is Great Britain, as NPR reporter Ari Shapiro noted in a March 21 report, “On Libel and the Law, the U.S. and U.K. Go... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Fritinancy
Apple’s newest device will be offered in three models: Watch Sport, Watch, and Watch Edition. The significance of those names—and the strategies behind other sub-branding programs—is the subject of my latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “The Cues and Clues of Sub-Brands, from Cabin Class to Apple Watch.” Access is... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2015 at Fritinancy
Here’s a spirited celebration of St. Patrick’s Day: “Mudebroth, an Ejaculation of St. Patrick.” It’s on Strong Language, so expect naughty words. * “Clickspittle: an unquestioningly loyal follower who obediently shares every trivial thought of their idol on social media.” Post-modern portmanteaus from The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2015 at Fritinancy
Grolar bear: A hybrid animal that’s part grizzly bear (Ursus arctus) and part polar bear (Ursus maritimus). The word is a blend of grizzly and polar. Eva Holland wrote about grolar bears last week in the online magazine Pacific Standard: I thought it was a joke when I first heard... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2015 at Fritinancy
“A name doesn’t define who or what you are,” declares No Name, a National Beverage Alliance brand of alcoholic drinks. The copy goes on, redundantly: “Sometimes a name doesn’t matter. A name doesn’t matter.” You can repeat it as much as you want, but No Name Steaks will still have... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2015 at Fritinancy
In New York City, you can summon a limo with an app called Gett. TechCrunch calls Gett “Uber without surge pricing.”“Gett rides are $10 in central Manhattan, anywhere between Houston and Central Park South, no matter what day of the week.” You can tell your Gett driver to take you... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2015 at Fritinancy
Pallesthesia: The sensation of mechanical vibration on or near the body. From Greek pallein, to quiver, and aisthesis, feeling. Pallesthesia shows up mostly in medical reference books and journals—in, for example, a 1953 article in Nature on “depression of vibratory sense levels in lupus erythematosus.” But John McPhee, the eminent... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2015 at Fritinancy
I’m marching to the beat of the Strong Language drummer, with a new post about naughty-sounding brand names with innocent meanings. It may be the only post you’ll read today that has the tags appliances, beverages, pee, and smegma. * Also: March 4 is National Grammar Day, an occasion for... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2015 at Fritinancy
Shipping: “A fandom practice that involves imagining relationships between two fictional characters from a show, movie, or book series.” (Source: Know Your Meme.) The TV Tropes site notes that the word “ostensibly derives from ‘Relationship’ (though it might as well be ‘Worship’; in some fandoms, it's Serious Business).” TV Tropes... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2015 at Fritinancy
I recently heard about a consulting gig with a San Jose creative agency. The firm does strong work in branding and web design, and it has a dynamic website. But one thing made me hesitate. The agency’s name. WebEnertia. If there’s a name less likely to inspire, to motivate, to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2015 at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus is about an ongoing fascination of mine: company and product names that end in -ly. Over the last several years I’ve pinned 256 examples of such names on a Pinterest board, from Adaptly and Amazely to Yarrly and Zaarly. But I’m not content... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2015 at Fritinancy
Gyges effect: The way in which the Internet “can encourage a disinhibition people simply would not experience face to face.” (Claire Hardaker, The Guardian, August 3, 2013) Gyges is often Anglicized to “JAHY-eez” (source: or “JAHY-jeez.” The Gyges effect takes its name from a story related in Plato’s Republic... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2015 at Fritinancy
Cadillac a whipped underdog? That’s what I infer from the automaker’s new “Dare Greatly” campaign, from Publicis, which will kick off during Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast. I caught the teaser ad at a Berkeley movie theater before a screening of the Best Foreign Film nominee Timbuktu, which is about the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2015 at Fritinancy
The Seattle Seahawks lost the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots. Maybe they’d have fared better under one of the other names nominated in a 1975 naming contest, including the Rainbeams, the Lumberjacks, and the Needlers. (Mental Floss) * “Check the trademark early on,” “Avoid focus groups,” and other... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2015 at Fritinancy
Telematics: The science and technology of sending, receiving, and processing information via telecommunications. Telematics is not a new word: it was borrowed from the French télématique, which was coined in 1978 by the authors of a report on “the computerization of society.” (That report was largely responsible for the national... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2015 at Fritinancy
There’s something slightly bananas about this slogan: “Taste Me Do Good” bananas. The bananas in the boxes are grown in Ecuador following organic, fair-trade practices. That’s very commendable. But the marketing language—from that slogan to the name of the growers’ community, Interrupción—is less appealing. For starters, how to interpret “Taste... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2015 at Fritinancy
I’m back at the Strong Language blog today with a post about “Schitt’s Creek,” a new sitcom that makes its U.S. debut tonight on cable TV’s Pop channel. The title was too taboo for NPR’s television critic to utter aloud, so he spelled it out, provided a rhyming mnemonic, and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2015 at Fritinancy
Grammando: “One who constantly corrects others’ linguistic mistakes.” Neologism coined by Lizzie Skurnick from grammar and commando. First appeared in the March 4, 2012, issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, under the heading “That Should Be a Word.” In a blog entry published on the same date, Skurnick... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2015 at Fritinancy
In the February 2 issue of The New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe writes about a new clothing retailer, Kit and Ace, that recently opened its first New York City shop. The company has an athleisure*(athletic + leisure) pedigree: one of the co-founders, Shannon Wilson, is married to Chip Wilson, who founded... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2015 at Fritinancy
Tip creep: The expectation of, or demand for, a gratuity that exceeds the traditional 15 percent. Increasingly, the source of the upward pressure is an automated payment system. From “$3 Tip on a $4 Cup of Coffee? Gratuities Grow, Automatically,” which appeared on the front page of the February 1... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at Fritinancy
This month Scratch Magazine, an online publication “about the intersection of writing and money,” celebrates its first anniversary. In “Scratch,” founder and publisher Jane Friedman (to whom I’m not related) nailed the perfect dual-meaning title: scratch has been an informal synonym for write since at least the early 19th century,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2015 at Fritinancy
My January column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at how smart came to be attached to so many inanimate objects, from phones to skin lotion, from bombs to highways, from quotation marks to fabric. Along the way, I consider the multiple senses of this very old word, which can mean... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at Fritinancy
Ork: Slang (via truncation) for “orchestra,” popularized by entertainment-industry publications in the 1930s. I discovered ork in The B-Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song, Ben Yagoda’s lively and informative new history of the American popular-music industry. The word appears in a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2015 at Fritinancy