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

Updated: 2017-12-11T13:47:03-08:00


On the Visual Thesaurus: Brand names of the year 2017


It’s my yearly roundup of brand names that made headlines and were linguistically interesting, including a few I’ve written about here: Velar, Keurig, Oath. Access is restricted to subscribers for three months (give yourself a gift!); here’s an excerpt. Bonobos. Founded in 2007 as an e-commerce site, the menswear company...



Pretty much everywhere you look, things are bad. Sexual predators in Hollywood, Washington, Alabama, and between and beyond. Wildfires in Los Angeles and Ventura counties – in December! (As someone observed on Twitter this week, there’s no such thing as “fire season” any more.) The rapacious tax bill. The shrinking...

Word of the week: Self-own


In the digital world, ownership – or ownage, is it’s often called – is an intangible quality. The tech-jargon sense of to own originated among hackers in the 1990s, who used it to mean “taking control of someone else’s computer”; it was picked up by gamers, for whom it means...

November linkfest

2017-11-28T15:12:03-08:00’s word of the year for 2017 is complicit. The selection is based on the number of online lookups, which spiked in March, when SNL featured a perfume ad parody; and in April, when Ivanka Trump said she didn’t know “what it means to be complicit.” Collins Dictionary, based in...

Word of the week: Blockchain


If you’re just a tiny bit aware of blockchain, it’s probably thanks to Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer virtual currency introduced in January 2009 and rising sensationally, if erratically, in value ever since. (On November 25 a single bitcoin was worth US$8,770.) Bitcoin was made possible through blockchain technology, which, put as...