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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
Some days I question my ability to distinguish satire from sincerity. “Gluten free flooring” from Heritage Salvage. San Francisco Chronicle, July 12. In a world where gluten-free shampoo is a real thing*, who knows? Because grain elevators, people! __ * Tip: Keep your mouth closed when you wash your hair.... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Fritinancy
Today I’m guest-blogging at Duets Blog, a publication of Minneapolis trademark-law firm Winthrop & Winestine. My post, “Fly the Tasty Skies,” looks at new airline names borrowed from the produce aisle. JetBlue’s new Mint, which began operations last month, is just the latest entrant in a category that includes Peach,... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Fritinancy
Workamping: Working full or part time while living in a mobile home. A contraction of “work” and “camping.” Workamping is the focus of “The End of Retirement,” an investigative article by Jessica Bruder in the July/August 2014 issue of Harper’s. Access is restricted to subscribers; here’s the nut graf: They... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
The leaves of Citrus hystrix are used in many South and Southeast Asian cuisines; they’re sometimes called by their Thai name, makrut, but in many English-speaking countries they’ve long been called kaffir lime. That’s changing thanks to a protest “against the racial and religious slur of ‘kaffir’,” writes Tiffany Do... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at the names of sweet, cold summertime treats, from generics like “ice cream,” “sherbet,” and “sundae” to brands like Good Humor, Eskimo Pie, and Häagen-Dazs. Access is limited to subscribers for three months; here’s a taste: Popsicle: The Popsicle website claims this... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2014 at Fritinancy
Anglish: A form of English “stripped clean of the last 1,000 years of non-Germanic influence, while also being brought up to date in terms of modern syntax, grammar and spelling.” (Source: Tom Roswell, guest-blogging at The World in Words.) Also known as New English. Its complement is Anglo-Norman Conventional Written... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2014 at Fritinancy
A few years ago I began noticing a trend in print advertising: the intentional deletion of a word or words. (Original post here; more examples here.) The trend turns out to have staying power, as several recent examples demonstrate. Working with design agency Pentagram, the venture capital firm First Round... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at Fritinancy
Names that incorporate “ever” are more popular than, well, ever. But the concept has been around for more than a century. Here are three old-school “ever” brands and eight that have appeared since 2005. The originals Eveready. . Eveready batteries, circa 1920s. Via Founded in St. Louis in 1896... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2014 at Fritinancy
Manosphere: A loose network of blogs, forums and online communities on the English-speaking web that are devoted to men’s interests, often in opposition to feminism. Although there were earlier men’s-interests blogs, Know Your Meme tracks the earliest usage of “manosphere” to the November 1, 2009, debut of The Manosphere. That... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2014 at Fritinancy
The punctuation symbol for “and” has been showing up in some interesting places lately. & Sons, by David Gilbert. Cover art for paperback edition (published May 2014). Amazon gives the title as And Sons. James Wood begins his New Yorker review of Gilbert’s novel with this comment on the unusual... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2014 at Fritinancy
In “The Book Refuge” (paywalled), published in the June 23 issue of The New Yorker, Janet Malcolm profiles the Argosy Bookshop on East 59th Street in Manhattan. Founded by Louis Cohen, “the seventh child of a Lower East Side immigrant family,” and run since 1991 by Cohen’s three daughters, the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2014 at Fritinancy
Fukubukuro: Grab bag or mystery bag containing unidentified items and sold at a substantial discount. Literally “lucky bag.” From Japanese fuku (“lucky”) and fukuro (“bag”); fukuro changes to bukuro because of a Japanese morphological phenomenon called rendaku, which affects the initial voicing of consonants. A Japanese New Year’s custom since... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at Fritinancy
A mysterious blogger whom I know only as The Least Shrew—her Twitter bio identifies her as Kaylin in Akron, Ohio—has done me the great honor of turning a peculiar research project of mine into a flowchart that she calls “How to Name Your Website.” “Is your brand cutesy? Hardcore? Buddhist?... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2014 at Fritinancy
I was surprised to see “Great minds like a think” headlining One Day University’s full-page ad in the New York Times Sunday Review of June 22: A clever play on “great minds think alike,” right? Too bad that particular witticism has been associated with The Economist for more than a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2014 at Fritinancy
Whataboutism: A rhetorical defense that imputes hypocrisy to the accuser. Said to have been coined by western journalists and public officials to a Cold War-era tactic of their Soviet counterparts; popularized by writers at The Economist. Also known as the tu quoque fallacy (to quoque is Latin for “you, too”)... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2014 at Fritinancy
Summer begins tomorrow, June 21, everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere except San Francisco. Now, I’m aware that Mark Twain didn’t say that the coldest winter he ever spent was a San Francisco summer. But that doesn’t make the statement counterfactual, as advertisers enjoy reminding us. Here, for example, is a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2014 at Fritinancy
Why slurp from a brain-dead plastic cup when you can drynk from a rechargeable Vessyl that’s lynked to your smartphone? Capacity: 13 ounces (385 ml). Colors: Shadow, Snow, and Steam. Compatible with iOS and Android devices. Not dishwasher safe. Please turn down the volume on your speakers for the following... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2014 at Fritinancy
Remember when ads were dense with copy and every new product was magical? A delightful Tumblr called A Word from Our Sponsor does. “The miracle of Philco’s mystery control is hard to believe!” (1938) * Is the Great American Tagline dead? Copyranter thinks so. * On the other hand, corporate... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2014 at Fritinancy
Thanks to all who voted in the 2014 Lexiophiles Top 100 Language Lovers contest! I’m pleased to announce that this blog was voted #9 in the Language Professional Blogs category—in excellent company, surrounded by distinguished translation blogs and the very popular Grammar Girl blog. My Twitter account was also nominated... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at Fritinancy
My new column for the Visual Thesaurus, “A Very Enterprising Suffix,” looks at the rise and spread of -preneur, which has detached itself from entrepreneur and become a self-sufficient, up-by-its-bootstraps element of word creation. Access is restricted to subscribers ($19.95 a year) is open to all! Here’s an excerpt: Since... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2014 at Fritinancy
Plimsoll: A type of rubber-soled canvas sole developed in the 1830s as beach wear by the Liverpool Rubber Company. The footwear was originally (and in some places still is) known as “sand shoes”; in 1876 a sales representative for the company suggested the “plimsoll” name because, according to the OED,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2014 at Fritinancy
A name change begins with questions—what do we need to communicate? how do we want to express it?–and it ends not merely with the new name but with the story that accompanies it. In the best of outcomes—if the renaming process was guided by a clear and comprehensive naming brief—company... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2014 at Fritinancy
Ski-Doo, the snowmobile brand so widespread that it’s almost a generic term, was never meant to be called “Ski-Doo.” Its inventor, Joseph-Armand Bombardier, had named his creation “Ski-Dog,” because it was meant to replace a dogsled. As a 1992 article in Popular Mechanics explains: “Fortunately for Bombardier (pronounced bom-bar-dee-ay), an... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2014 at Fritinancy
The online-only fashion and beauty retailer ASOS launched in London in 2000, began turning a profit in 2004, and first expanded outside the UK—originally to France, Germany, and the US—in 2010. Today the company has 4,000 employees and sales of £753.8 million (nearly $1.3 billion). The company sells more than... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2014 at Fritinancy
It’s “How They Got That Name” week on Fritinancy, bringing you origin stories of corporate and product names both famous and obscure. Our first entry, Pitango, is big in Israel but may be unfamiliar to readers elsewhere. Founded in 1993, Pitango is Israel’s largest venture capital fund. It invests seed... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at Fritinancy