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Preview: Fritinancy


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

Updated: 2016-12-09T07:00:00-08:00


Names of the year 2016


The American Name Society is accepting nominations for Names of the Year, with the winners to be announced at the society’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas, on January 5, 2017. Anyone can play; submit your nominations before January 3. Here are my own nominations in the categories established by ANS...

Bad advertising of the Bay Area: Thumbtack


In the last two and a half years, Thumbtack, which matches customers with local service professionals, has raised $255 million in funding. If the company had spent the merest fraction of that sum on a professional copywriter with an elementary understanding of how advertising works, it could have come up...

A few strong words


Join me at Strong Language today, where I’ve published a post about a phrase in a sign that appeared on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) last week. The sign was fake (but looked authentic); the phrase was an imperative that included a four-letter word that’s common in speech but uncommon...

Word of the week: Kakistocracy


An aristocracy is government by the best people; the word was adopted into English in the 1560s from a French word coined from the Greek for “best” (aristos) and “rule” (kratos). A kakistocracy is the opposite: government by the worst or most unprincipled people. Given that the Greek word for...

What season is it?


Why, ’tis the ’tis-the-season season! * ’Tis the season for new arrivals! Gap. ’Tis the season for a holiday position! Sephora (Emeryville, California) ’Tis the season for Dianne Reeves! Pandora (hat tip: Roger Julian). Tis’ (tsk, tsk) the season to give cheer! Wrong-way apostrophe from PayPal. ’Tis the season to...