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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
This is the top half of a full-page ad for Salesforce Tower that appeared in last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle. From the Wikipedia entry: “Salesforce Tower, formerly known as the Transbay Tower, is a 1,070 ft (326 m) supertall office skyscraper under construction in the South of Market district of... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Fritinancy
About zero, that is. It’s my nomination for number of the year. Full access to “A Column about Nothing” is restricted to subscribers for three months; here’s an excerpt: Zero is a synonym for “nothing,” of course, but its value in branding – and in English idioms – is often... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Fritinancy
Risotto: “An Italian dish of rice cooked in stock with ingredients such as vegetables and meat or seafood” (OED). The dish is associated with northern Italy and particularly Milan (risotto milanese). From Italian riso (rice) and the diminutive suffix -otto. offers alternate etymologies: “Some say it came from an... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Fritinancy
The origins of cinema terms like blockbuster, cliffhanger, and McGuffin. (Oxford Dictionaries blog) * Test your knowledge of advertising slogans. (Mental Floss) * The return of Spy magazine – the great satirical publication of the 1980s and 1990s – as an Esquire pop-up, and not a moment too soon. *... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2016 at Fritinancy
Earlier this week I spoke via Clarity, an expert-advice service, with a CEO who was considering changing his company’s decade-old name. He told me he didn’t have the budget for professional naming services, so he and his business partner, both tech guys, had attempted to come up with a new... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2016 at Fritinancy
Lewd: Lustful, preoccupied with sex; obscene, indecent. Lewd was headline writers’ go-to adjective in coverage of a leaked 2005 audiotape in which Donald Trump boasts to Billy Bush*, the host of TV’s Access Hollywood, of, among other things, being able to “do anything” to women – including “grab them by... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2016 at Fritinancy
Do-it-yourself home security devices – connected to homeowners’ smartphones rather than to a security company or police department – represent a growing market. Most such devices cost around $200 and involve monthly fees of $10 to $50, but a Chinese smart-technology company, RippleInfo, has developed a security device with some... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2016 at Fritinancy
NEET: Acronym for “Not in Education, Employment or Training” – or, as Wall Street Journal contributor Nicholas Eberstadt put it in a September 1 op-ed, “Neither Employed nor in Education or Training”: Labor Day is an appropriate moment to reflect on a quiet catastrophe: the collapse, over two generations, of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2016 at Fritinancy
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 Sep 28, 2016 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 Sep 26, 2016 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