Earlier this month, Apple pulled back the curtain on its new wrist-borne technology, the Apple Watch. Much of the subsequent chatter centered on pricing ($349 to $17,000), features (digital crown, sapphire crystal), and release date (April 24). Some of us, however, directed our curiosity elsewhere: to the device's three model names. Why "Watch," "Watch Sport," and "Watch Edition"? What do those spare yet evocative names tell us about Apple's objectives?  Continue reading...

If you've spent time lately in the world of startup brands, as I have, you've almost certainly noticed a conspicuous trend. Maybe the penny dropped as you searched for recipes on Yummly or bought home-delivered meals from Feastly. Perhaps you've skimmed headlines on Reportedly, Collectively, or Newsly. Or you've played games on Scopely, tracked gasoline usage with Fuelly, or researched colleges on Admittedly.  Continue reading...

Over the last week, I have exercised on an elliptical trainer that had a SmartRate heart monitor; watched movies on a smart TV; applied a product called Smart Serum to my face; and checked messages on a smartphone that has Smart Stay, Smart Pause, and Smart Scroll functions.  Continue reading...

At the end of each year, while linguists and lexicographers cast votes for words of the year, I'm compiling a different list: the brand names that distilled the mood of the previous twelve months. To narrow the field, I add another criterion: the brand names must have linguistic or onomastic significance — onomastics being the study of names.  Continue reading...

The old adage about American and England being "two nations divided by a common language" — wrongly attributed to George Bernard Shaw, who never said or wrote it — may still hold true in some quarters. But in the language of U.S. commerce, it's fast losing its relevance. Terms that once seemed quaintly Olde English to Americans — from "bespoke" to "stockist" — are fast becoming the new normal.  Continue reading...

When the ABC-TV sitcom "Black-ish" debuted in September, it joined a growing set of titles and brands built on the odd little ish suffix. There's a lot more to ish than "sort of" and "more or less." Here's a brand-by-brand rundown of the ish spectrum.  Continue reading...

Stroll through the hipper districts of any American city in 2014 and you may experience the sense of time being slightly out of joint. On shop signs and menus, words that last flourished a couple of centuries ago—or earlier—have been making a comeback. But no word from the distant past is as antique, or as popular in commerce in so many disparate ways, as apothecary.  Continue reading...

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