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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
On a recent trip to Costco I bought a box of RXBAR protein bars, which contain several healthful ingredients, none of which, according to the package, is bullshit. Good to know! From the RXBAR website: Guys who are into CrossFit would never indulge in B.S. As you probably know from... Continue reading
Posted 33 minutes ago at Fritinancy
Another week, another epithet. Last week we had a look at soy boy, although I’d considered shining a spotlight on incel instead. (For an analysis of this insult, a portmanteau of involuntary and celibate, see Ben Zimmer’s essay for Politico.) This week we have another way to dis (white) men,... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Fritinancy
Image registered the longest URL in internet ... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Fritinancy
My May column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at a two-letter word that’s become ubiquitous in brand names and slogans: go. We see it in GoPro cameras, the HBO GO streaming service, Grab & Go airport meals, the Ford GoBike, and much more. Full access to the column is paywalled... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2018 at Fritinancy
Settle in with a nice tofu sandwich and some edamame as I tell you about soy boy and how it became the insult of choice among alt-right troglodytes – the sort of chuckleheads who call Trump “god emperor.” Via Reddit/The_Donald. Note pussy hat. The rhyme makes soy boy catchy, of... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2018 at Fritinancy
The verb to emote has been around for more than a century; backformed from emotion, it means “to express (excessive) emotion, especially in a play, film, or other entertainment.” It first appeared in print in the early years of the twentieth century, originally in the United States. What’s new(ish) is... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2018 at Fritinancy
Cambridge Analytica, the “embattled political consulting firm” that was involved in the Facebook data-harvesting scandal, has filed for bankruptcy and closed its U.S. offices, according to reports yesterday in the New York Times and other media outlets. Out of the ashes has risen something called Emerdata, “a mysterious British company”... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2018 at Fritinancy
“Killing Eve,” the new series created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge*, premiered earlier this month on BBC America. The show – which Vogue called “part spy drama, part serial killer thriller, part absurdist comedy” – is based on novellas by the British author Luke Jennings that are known collectively as the Villanelle... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2018 at Fritinancy
You know how Google names its Android versions after sweets like Kit Kat and Marshmallow? Well, writes Justin Pot, Microsoft should name its updates after dogs. (How to Geek) * Speaking of Kit Kat, the brand is hugely popular in Japan, in part because “Kit Kat” translates to “You will... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2018 at Fritinancy
“Well, Paul Ryan, you’re a free man now,” began the New York Times editorial that appeared on April 11, the day the Wisconsin congressman announced he’d be stepping down as House speaker and leaving Congress in January. Three paragraphs down, the editorial counseled Ryan about how to put his liberation... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2018 at Fritinancy
My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “Naming the Name of the Year,” looks at the quirky and wildly popular Name of the Year Tournament (NOTY), started in 1983 by some Penn undergraduates and still going strong. One of those undergrads was Stefan Fatsis, who may be better known as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2018 at Fritinancy
Nasim Najafi Aghdam, the 39-year-old woman who shot three people at YouTube’s San Bruno, California, headquarters on April 3 before killing herself, is said to have been angry about the company’s policies, especially demonetization. According to an article in Entrepreneur, she had written on her website: “There is no equal... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2018 at Fritinancy
I saw Black Panther on opening weekend – in Oakland, California, birthplace of the film’s director, Ryan Coogler – and have been thinking ever since about the names in the movie. I’m not a comic-book fan and had never read the source material or seen Captain America: Civil War, the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2018 at Fritinancy
The Volkswagen Beetle had one from its very beginnings in the 1930s. The Chevrolet Corvair had one throughout its production run, from 1960 to 1969. Several Porsche models had one. So did the Renault 10 and the Tatra 603. But not until Tesla came up with the Model S, in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2018 at Fritinancy
Rhyme in advertising, once a well-practiced art form, is now almost defunct. As I wrote in the Visual Thesaurus a few years ago (“Ads That Rhyme: Past Their Prime?”), “By the time Orson Welles intoned ‘We will sell no wine before its time’ — a slant or ‘imperfect’ rhyme —... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2018 at Fritinancy
I stumbled across tankie on Twitter last week, where it appeared in the name of a recently added account, The Tankie Awards 2018. The word was new to me, although I’ve spent some time exploring other tank-y usages, including the verb to tank, the idiom in the tank for, and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2018 at Fritinancy
“Most verbs stay basically the same in different grammatical roles. ‘Walk’ looks like ‘walks’ and ‘walked.’ But the word ‘be’ looks nothing like the word ‘am,’ which looks nothing like the word ‘were.’” (Arika Okrent for Curiosity.) * When I wrote about mansplain, in September 2010, the earliest citation I... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2018 at Fritinancy
“Is there a Trump firing bracket?” asked Josh Marshall, the editor and publisher of Turning Points Memo on Twitter. It was the beginning of March Madness, the annual NCAA basketball championship, and the middle – or the beginning of the middle, or the end of the beginning – of a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2018 at Fritinancy
According to business-etiquette experts Barbara Pachter and Will Schwalbe, starting an email with “Dear ___” will likely be perceived as “old-fashioned” or “a bit too formal.” Much safer, they tell Business Insider, to use “Hi.” Tell that to the people coming up with titles for new or recent movies, TV... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2018 at Fritinancy
My recent explorations of sicko and rhino led me to wonder about other words that end in -o and how they arrived in English. Those words are the subject of my latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “The Story of -o.” Full access is restricted to subscribers for three months;... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2018 at Fritinancy
You know it as a shorter, simpler way to say “rhinoceros.” But in the 17th and 18th centuries rhino was slang for “money,” and the related adjective rhinocerical was slang for “wealthy.” And no one is sure why. These are not the rhinos you’re looking for. (But they sure are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2018 at Fritinancy
(Part of my Naming 101 series.) As trademark lawyers love to remind us, distinctiveness is a paramount goal of brand naming. A name doesn’t need to be original – consider Dove deodorant and Dove chocolate — but it does need to stand out in its category. But can a name... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2018 at Fritinancy
The third season of “unREAL,” the Lifetime drama that’s set behind the scenes at a fictitious dating show called “Everlasting,” premiered last week. The previous two seasons were satires of the long-running not-unreal “reality” show “The Bachelor,” with a single “suitor” choosing from among a bevy of competing women. This... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2018 at Fritinancy
Every year Fast Company publishes a list it calls World’s Most Innovative Companies: “more than 350 enterprises across 36 categories,” including biotech, finance, retail, and space, as well as five geographic sectors (Africa, China, India, Israel, and Latin America). I’ll leave the innovation metric to FC’s editors; what I wanted... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2018 at Fritinancy
On February 22 – the birthday of America’s first president, George Washington – @RealDonaldTrump rose early and poked out a farrago of tweets – seven in all – proffering his theories about guns, schools, and a “GREAT DETERRENT” (his capitalization) to massacres like the one that occurred on Valentine’s Day... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2018 at Fritinancy