Fritinancy

Names, brands, writing, and the language of commerce.

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Word of the week: Pandemicide

In a February 18 opinion piece for Foreign Policy, the Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Laurie Garrett accuses former President Trump of pandemicide, a word she does not define but which in context clearly means “causing death by means of the COVID-19 pandemic.”    Garrett writes: Had I been a member of the House of Representatives...

On the Visual Thesaurus: Amo, Amas, Amateur

Better late than never: my February column for the Visual Thesaurus is all about the loving origins of amateur. I’d submitted it in time for pre-Valentine’s Day publication, but I’m not in charge of the site and [insert Serenity Prayer]. I wrote about amateur hours (capitalized and generic), amateur nights (ditto), amateur athletes, amateur radio, and...

New on Strong Language: You bet your asterisk!

My new post for Strong Language (the sweary blog about swearing) asks: When the old swears no longer shock, what’s an advertiser to do? One answer: swear-ify inoffensive words by inserting asterisks into them. Read “You bet your asterisk!”  

Word of the week: Turncoat

I’m not betraying any secrets when I tell you that TURNCOAT was the pangram in Sunday’s New York Times online Spelling Bee. (A pangram is a word that contains all the letters in a given alphabet, in this case A, C, N, O, R, T, and U.) You’ll need to find 43 words in this hive to achieve the coveted “Queen Bee” status. Words must contain at least...

Aunt Jemima rebrands as Pearl Milling Co.

The pancake-products brand known for 130 years as Aunt Jemima—and criticized for that name for almost as long—has announced a name change. Beginning in June, the brand will be called Pearl Milling Co. Via PepsiCo This is a back-to-the-future choice in all the best ways. Pearl Milling Co. of St. Joseph, Missouri, was the name of the company that...

Word of the week: Flirt

Next Sunday, February 14, is Valentine’s Day, a date that honors the third-century Christian martyr who is the patron saint of epilepsy. In the Middle Ages, St. Valentine also became associated with courtly love; by the 18th century, February 14 had turned into the holiday amorous couples still celebrate with greeting cards, roses, candy, and expensive...

Stop naming buildings after people

The San Francisco Board of Education wants to dename schools named for Abraham Lincoln, Robert Louis Stevenson, George Washington, and other people. I think they should go even further. Read my latest post for Medium. P.S. If you like the story, please “clap” for it. You can clap up to 50 times per Medium story. Claps translate into modest payouts...

Word of the week: Stonks

Last week’s big financial story sounded like April Fool’s in January: Some mischievous day traders on the WallStreetBets subreddit noticed that GameStop, a struggling chain of brick-and-mortar video-game stores, was heavily shorted by Wall Street hedge funds—in other words, the hedgies were betting that GameStop would soon go belly-up. To stick it to...

January linkfest

The new words are here! The new words are here! Merriam-Webster has added 520 of them to its online word hoard, including coronavirus words (long hauler), identity words (BIPOC, folx), and working words (coworking, makerspace, gig worker). * Speaking of dictionaries, lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower has compiled a new historical dictionary of science-fiction,...

Word of the week: Fig

This post was going to be a short riff on a line in that Inauguration poem by Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman—the line about the vine and the fig tree, which got me thinking about figs. Mmmm, figs. But one fig led to another, and next thing you know I was way down a figgy rabbit hole from which there was no escape. Go figure. Here’s the line from...

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