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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
The word may be unfamiliar to you – it was to me, until a few weeks ago – but you undoubtedly know a jabroni or two. We all do. He – it’s always a he – isn’t mean enough to be called a jerk. He’s annoying, but not as obnoxious... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Fritinancy
Suppose you built a condominium building in a certain Manhattan neighborhood and named it for an adjacent but different Manhattan neighborhood. Suppose the zoning laws wouldn’t allow a residential tower on the site, so what you actually were selling were rooms in a “condo-hotel.” Suppose you publicly claimed that 60... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2017 at Fritinancy
Last week I took the Coast Starlight to Seattle, a city I hadn’t visited in decades, and Vancouver, BC, where I’d never been at all. The journey was leisurely and scenic, the weather was mild and dry, and the political climate shift after I crossed the border was startling in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2017 at Fritinancy
“What linguists sometimes call ‘genericisation’ of brand names has a grimmer name among marketing types: “genericide”. The Economist’s Johnson on google, photoshop, xerox, and other examples of brand genericization. A trademark-defense ad from Xerox, 2011. Yes, “zipper” used to be a trademark-protected brand name. Source. * Related: The lawyers at... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2017 at Fritinancy
In my newest column for the Visual Thesaurus, I take a look at backronyms, defined in an Oxford Dictionaries blog post as “an acronym deliberately created to suit a particular word or words, either to create a memorable name, or as a fanciful explanation of a word’s origin.” Backronyms are... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2017 at Fritinancy
Will Sommer writes in his blog, Right Richter*: After Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer announced a potential DACA deal, pro-Trump forums and Twitter lit up with mentions of “blackpilling”— the concept that the political process is useless, and that either completely dropping out of society or responding with mass violence... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2017 at Fritinancy
If you’re inclined to spend $100,000 or more for a fully loaded urban tank, Range Rover has just the thing for you: its new Velar SUV. Picky people will point out that it’s Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover Range Rover Velar. (Jaguar Land Rover has been a wholly owned subsidy... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2017 at Fritinancy
This week, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) will consider approving a new permit program for private transit vehicles, or PTVs. These vehicles – currently, Chariot is the only one operating in the city – use shuttle vans and a smartphone app; they are “open to the public, charge... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2017 at Fritinancy
In Advertising Land, parts of speech move freely across borders. Nouns become verbs (“Prepare to Pumpkin,” “Let’s Movie”); adjectives become nouns (“Welcome to Possible,” “The Power of True”). This functional shift, or anthimeria, happens in regular English, too – share and contact were nouns long before they were verbs –... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2017 at Fritinancy
I’ve followed Tinu Abayomi-Paul on Twitter for years, but I only recently noticed that her profile included the hashtag #spoonie, a term unfamiliar to me. So I did a little research. Spoonie is only tangentially related to the verb to spoon – to court or woo, especially in a silly... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2017 at Fritinancy
Last weekend Peter Daou, a political blogger and former adviser to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, launched Verrit, a website that purports to be “for the 65.8 million.” The number refers to the popular-vote plurality won by Clinton in 2016 (which, of course, was insufficient to win the Electoral College, ergo... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at Fritinancy
In early 2016, when Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign was looking for a way to connect with supporters and recruit volunteers, it turned to Hustle, a mass texting platform that had been created barely 18 months earlier. Sanders eventually lost the Democratic nomination, but San Francisco-based Hustle hustles on, shifting its... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2017 at Fritinancy
I inherited my love of factory tours from my late father, who rarely missed an opportunity to schlep us kids to something (a) educational and (b) free. Among many other jaunts, I clearly remember touring a Chevrolet factory (loud) and a Chicken of the Sea tuna factory (smelly). I’m sure... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2017 at Fritinancy
Maybe you’ve never seen the word wypipo. I’d never... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2017 at Fritinancy
Years ago, I named the world’s first “bidirectional” condom, so this story really spoke to me: Diverse & Resilient, an LGBTQ organization in Milwaukee, decided to do something about the bland branding of free condoms. So it partnered with a local marekting agency, Cramer Krasselt, to create Naughty Bags, condoms... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2017 at Fritinancy
My new column for the Visual Thesaurus considers a batch of new brand names, including Mr. Cooper (the insurance company formerly known as Nationstar), Penny (a personal- finance app), Dave (another personal-finance app), Oscar (a health-insurance company), June (an “intelligent oven”), and Alexa (the Amazon device). All of these names... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2017 at Fritinancy
It’s not uncommon for words originally used as slurs to be reclaimed with pride by the targeted group. Queer was reappropriated by gay people, deplorable by Trump supporters, and Impressionist by 19th-century artists. It’s much less common for a pejorative term to be reclaimed twice. Yet that’s what’s happened with... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2017 at Fritinancy
I had a little extra time before meeting a friend at SFMOMA to see the “Soundtracks” exhibit (highly recommended), so I took a detour through for the food court of the Westfield San Francisco Centre on Market Street, looking for interesting brands. I scored right away. “Interesting” doesn’t even begin... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2017 at Fritinancy
On Saturday, the technology blog Motherboard reported on a document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” that had been posted by an unnamed male software engineer on a company mailing list and had subsequently gone “internally viral.” By the end of the day, another tech blog, Gizmodo, had published the complete... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2017 at Fritinancy
The naming brief was comprehensive and clear, except for one line toward the end: “No names that begin with A, B, or F.” Wait. What? Curious about the prohibition, I emailed the client – a native English speaker, by the way. The response: “I’m not a fan of brand names... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2017 at Fritinancy
After seven years of Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act – probably the signature legislative accomplishment of President Obama’s first term – and two failed attempts this year by the Republican-majority to repeal and replace the law, U.S. senators prepared to spend most of July 27 in a marathon... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2017 at Fritinancy
Linguist Arnold Zwicky examines the “ostentatious euphemism” beat the snack out of, as seen in a recent Jack Link’s ad. I’ve written about ostentatious euphemisms myself – “Ship my pants,” “Look at the booking view,” “Do you give a cup?” – and am glad to know what to call them.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2017 at Fritinancy
The perfectly calibrated insult is a rara avis nowadays – ass- and douche- compounds don’t really count – so when someone resurrects an elegant 16th-century epithet, attention must be paid. So: Scaramucci will be fine working with Reince. Even if Reince continues to loathe the popinjay. — Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon)... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at Fritinancy
Until the 1990s, if you lived in the U.S. and needed a new mattress you probably began and ended your search with the letter S. Simmons (founded in 1870), Sealy (1881), and Serta (1931) were the CBS, NBC, and ABC of the mattress world: anything else was on the far... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2017 at Fritinancy
I first encountered overstand only recently, while I was catching up on the most recent season of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix. When I heard the word twice in that episode, I wondered whether it was a Kimmyism like “What the fudge?” or “Troll the respawn.” But no: overstand... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2017 at Fritinancy