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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
I was leafing through People magazine at the hairdresser’s, as one does, when my attention was hijacked by an ad for a new drug with an unusual name. That’s actually two unusual names: “ixekizumab” (the generic name) and “Taltz” (the trade name). But Taltz was the name that made me... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
Kayfabe: /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ In professional wrestling, the portrayal of staged events as “real” or “true.” The term came from the carnival world, where – according to TV Tropes – it is thought to have originated as Pig Latin for be fake. (According to my sources, its original pronunciation would thus have... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Fritinancy
In 1995 there was Clueless, writer/director Amy Heckerling’s updating of Jane Austen’s Emma; the big-screen version begat a TV series by the same name. Last year brought Limitless, another movie-to-TV recycling, this one about “an average 28-year-old man who gains the ability to use the full extent of his brain’s... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2016 at Fritinancy
Mountebank: A charlatan; a seller of quack medicines who attracts customers with stories, jokes, or tricks; a con artist. From Italian monta im banco, one who gets up on a bench (to speak). Pronounced with three syllables. I’m imagining the members of the New York Times editorial board debating which... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2016 at Fritinancy
What if business jargon were made literal and tangible? Artists Isabel + Helen take on that challenge with A Load of Jargon, an installation opening tomorrow at The Conran Shop in London’s Chelsea district. The exhibit turns five buzzwords – “thinking cap,” “big idea,” “next steps,” “easy win,” and “going... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2016 at Fritinancy
Today is the final day of New York Fashion Week (NYFW), the seven-day period during which designers present their new collections — Spring/Summer 2017, this time around — to the press and well-heeled clients. (The event has been called Fashion Week since 1993; for half a century before then, it... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2016 at Fritinancy
Deplorables: Nounified, pluralized form of deplorable, an adjective meaning “lamentable, very sad, grievous, miserable, wretched” and usually used in reference to events, conditions, or circumstances. The adjective is derived from the Latin verb plorare, to weep or bewail. The adjective deplorable first appeared in print in the early 1600s. The... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2016 at Fritinancy
I’ll willingly – nay, happily – answer a lot of questions about names and naming without charging a dime. I’ll give you tips about strategy. I’ll offer examples of effective names and bad names. I’ll suggest an outline for writing a naming brief. I’ll talk about URLs and searchability. I’ll... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2016 at Fritinancy
Hyperlexia: “The online-induced inability to stop reading.” (New Republic) Coined from hyper- (over, beyond) and -lexia (words). Hyperlexia is the term journalist and author Virginia Heffernan uses in her new book, Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art, to describe “the plague of our time”: It’s hyperlexia that keeps people’s... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2016 at Fritinancy
Currently in theaters: Don’t Breathe, a horror film that cost a mere $10 million to make and which is expected to clear a 500 percent profit by the end of its run. Don’t Think Twice, a comedy-drama by Mike Birbiglia with an impressive 99 percent TomatoMeter rating.* But the don’ts... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2016 at Fritinancy
Lam: An escape, especially from custody; an act of running or flight. Headline and photo via Atlas Obscura, August 5, 2016. On the lam is favored by journalists aiming for a combination of wry humor and tough-guy slang. For some reason, it’s especially popular in animal stories: I found news... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2016 at Fritinancy
Welcome, students! Here’s your curriculum for the semester: Anthropologie Course description: “Founded in Wayne, Pennsylvania in the autumn of 1992, Anthropologie remains a destination for women wanting a curated mix of clothing, accessories, gifts and home décor that reflects their personal style and fuels their lives' passions, from fashion to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2016 at Fritinancy
Item: “She calls her startup Rapunzel, and for good reason: Angela Christiano is working on growing a full head of hair in the lab.” – Stat, August 12, 2016 The startup is so new it doesn’t yet have a website, but it has generated plenty of buzz in the scientific... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2016 at Fritinancy
#LochMess: A hashtag identifying the scandal involving 12-time Olympic swimming medalist Ryan Lochte, who, along with three of his U.S. teammates, claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro the night after their gold-medal performance in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay. Brazilian police investigators later determined... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2016 at Fritinancy
This “refresher on trademark basics” is addressed to the craft beer industry, but it’s filled with solid information for anyone who needs to legally own a business name. (Hat tip: Timberlake Law.) * More beer? Sure, why not. Craft brewers run out of catchy names “as puns run dry.” Girl... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at Fritinancy
My new column for the Visual Thesaurus, “When Words Collide,” looks at portmanteau words and names: their history (thank you, Lewis Carroll!), how they’re constructed, and why some succeed and others fail. “Glotion”: a recent portmanteau that falls short of the ideal. Full access to the column is restricted to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2016 at Fritinancy
Sarcasm: A cutting remark intended to express contempt or ridicule. From late Greek sarkasmos: a sneer, jest, taunt, or mockery. Its original meaning was “tear flesh”; its root is sarco-, a Latinized form of a Greek root meaning “flesh.” Compare sarcophagus (limestone used for coffins; literally “flesh-eating”) and sarcoma (a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2016 at Fritinancy
Software engineers and the enterprises that hire them as vendors share a frustration: long-term contracts with little flexibility. Adrian Ionel, who’d co-founded the successful cloud-infrastructure company Mirantis, had a better idea: a software-support network that cuts out the middlemen and the expensive contracts, delivering expert technical services on an as-needed... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at Fritinancy
Goldwater Rule: An informal ethical code that prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions about the mental state of someone they haven’t personally evaluated. The rule has been accepted by the American Psychiatric Association since 1973; officially, it is known as Section 7.3 of the APA’s ethics principles. The rule is named... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2016 at Fritinancy
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re having our usual cool and foggy summer. But in the hotter inland and upland parts of the state, wildfire season is entering its third month. A couple of weeks ago, I drove home from Los Angeles on I-5, near where the poetically... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2016 at Fritinancy
This week Airbnb – which now styles itself as a “worldwide accommodations leader” with the slogan “Live There” (it used to be “Belong Anywhere”) – revealed a new division called Samara and announced the division’s first project: a communal housing development meant to revitalize a small town in Japan. According... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2016 at Fritinancy
Apophasis: Saying something by denying that you’ll say it; the “I’m-not-saying-I’m-just saying” rhetorical device. From the Greek roots apo- (away from, off) and -phatikos (to speak): “to deny.” Entered English in a 1656 rhetoric text, when it was defined as “a kind of irony.” Pronounced (ə-pŏf′ə-sĭs). Apophasis is also known... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2016 at Fritinancy
Dead-ender: A partisan who refuses to stop supporting a cause or candidate; a die-hard. This sense of dead-ender – the most recent of several to have appeared during the term’s history – has appeared regularly during the current U.S. presidential campaign. It’s used as a disparaging tag for zealous supporters... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2016 at Fritinancy
I don’t knit, but that hasn’t stopped me from lurking around the Etsy shop of a German merchant called DyeForYarn. The pun, though forced, is fitting. Just take a look at the macabre names bestowed on many of the colors. It’s Really Dead, Dead Walnut Wood, Black Hole, Gray Which... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2016 at Fritinancy
A blanket merchant in the Pacific Northwest is doing laudable work under a mournful moniker. The company commissions and sells handmade blankets in a variety of materials and designs. For every blanket you purchase, the company donates a blanket to your local homeless shelter. The name of the company: Sackcloth... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2016 at Fritinancy