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Preview: Fritinancy


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

Updated: 2017-02-20T06:00:00-08:00


Word of the week: SCROTUS


In 1879, a telegraphic code book proposed SCOTUS as shorthand for “Supreme Court of the United States.” Ammon Shea, writing for the Merriam-Webster blog, traced the next -OTUS coinage to the 1890s, when telegraph operators began using POTUS to abbreviate “President of the United States.” Both acronyms became widespread, joined...

February linkfest


Why do so many robot names sound alike? FastCoDesign put the question to name developer Christopher Johnson, who explained that Kuri, Yui, Yobi, et al. “sound like the kind of names you might give your dog.” * Speaking of machines and names, Amazon’s Alexa is making life miserable for a...

Word of the week: Lawfare


Last week, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to reinstate the Trump Administration’s ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, I began seeing references to a new-to-me legal blog with an interesting name: Lawfare. LAWFARE: "Remarkably, in the entire opinion, the panel did not bother...

On the Visual Thesaurus: Crisp, Crispy, Krispy, Krispies


My new column for the Visual Thesaurus asks: What’s the difference between crisp and crispy? And what do 15th-century language fads, breakfast cereals, and Martha Stewart have to do with the question? Full access is limited to subscribers, but of course you already knew that (and have already subscribed). Here’s...



This headline popped up today on the home page of Uniqlo, the ubiquitous Japanese retail chain. It links to the site’s jeans section, where the clothing is replete with rips, holes, and other “tasteful rough touches.” Normally I’d focus on the verbing of imperfect – an example of anthimeria I...