What Might Be Acceptable San Francisco Names?

Let’s say you are new in town. And while you’re fascinated by the city, writing “San Francisco” every time seems overly repetitive. You know there might be nicknames, local names, shortened versions of the city, and so you go with an obvious one. You say “Frisco”.

As I learned when I used it, “Frisco” apparently pisses off hard core locals. Locals who may want to travel more to realize that those new in town don’t mean to offend, and would be happy to know the right way to reference.

So as an education for those of us new, as well as those reading while far away, what might be the right nicknames, fun names, short names for the long, if geographically correct “San Francisco”?

18 Comments so far

  1. Sam Clam (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 8:04 pm

    Sam Clam’s Disco
    San Franschizo
    Yuppieville
    dotbombayarea
    Baghdad by the Bay
    and my favorite…..Hooterville!


  2. Lauren (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

    I have just gotten really good at typing “San Francisco” over the past few years, although I have to be really really careful not to type “San Fransisco” by mistake (you think saying “Frisco” is bad, just wait until you misspell the real name of the city!).

    But why do you need to shorten San Francisco? Do you shorten Washington? That name is almost as long. Of course, I think you often refer to that city as just DC, right? (Or at least I always have growing up in Washington state and needing a way to differentiate the two.) So do the same here. If you are lazy with the typing, just use “SF”.

    Oh, and if you happen to be in Hayes Valley, you’ll now get the name of this laudromat.


  3. tyler82 (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 8:11 pm

    as a california native i simply say “SF” when chatting informally wiht friends, but formally with strangers it’s always san francisco for me


  4. Mark (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 8:34 pm

    Why do we need to give it a nickname? People just say “the city,” they don’t go around saying to each other, “Well, I guess it’s time for us to leave Yosemite and go back to San Francisco!”


  5. Sillynun (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 8:34 pm

    San FranSicko is one of my favs


  6. Karla (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

    “The City” depends on where you’re from… I recently moved here from the east coast, so NYC will always be “The City” to me. My mom calls the local suburb-with-a-supermarket “the city” though, so I guess it doesn’t mean too much.

    Is “San Fran” as ill-received as “Frisco”? It seems like another logical abbreviation from this out-of-towner’s point of view.


  7. dln (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

    san fran works if you’re syntactically lazy but semantically aware.


  8. TinMan (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 9:15 pm

    I am a California native, a South Bay kid, and someone who has actually lived in San Francisco (I live in Redwood City right now). It’s either “SF” or “The City”. I used “SF” more when I lived in San Francisco; I use “The City” more when I don’t live in San Francisco.

    If you use “Baghdad By the Bay”, you’re either trying too hard or you’re being tongue-(firmly)-in-cheek.

    Depending on the situation, I’ve just called it “town”.

    For Karla, “San Fran” sounds a little country (like Vallejo), but it’s certainly better than “Frisco” (which makes you sound like an Appalachian Mountain coalminer) or some dork from Lenexa, Kansas.

    Please note that “the People’s Republic” refers to Berkeley, California.


  9. cd (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 11:45 pm

    “The City” is common – but, rightfully, a bit offensive to now well-developed cities like San Jose and Sacramento that also exist in, like, the world. I’ve never had a problem using “SF” or taking the time to write out San Francisco. Maybe I’m just empathetic toward the city since my own name is excessively long and complicated.

    But yeah – there’s even a laundromat called “Don’t Call It Frisco” as Lauren points out. In fact, before I even understood the concept, years and years ago, I was reading one of those “Two Minute Mystery” books – you know, by the guy who wrote the Encyclopedia Brown books (who’s with me? anyone else a bookish child?) where the key to the mystery was the guy who claimed to be a native or have an alibi or something called SF “Frisco” and was nailed accordingly.


  10. 49Giants (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 1:39 am

    The jersey for the San Francisco Warriors is regarded as one of the best sports unis of all time. Why? Well, one of the reasons was pointed out when GQ ranked classic uniforms in the November 2004 issue:

    San Francisco Warriors (1966 – 1971): Gotta love a team that puts “the city” on its jerseys. “Yeah, that’s right it’s the city. You got a problem with that?” Bonus points for putting the rear uni numbers inside a little trolley-car illustration.

    It didn’t say “San Francisco”, it didn’t say “Warriors”; just “The City”. It’s that feeling you get when you’re approaching San Francisco from either the Bay Bridge or from 101; you just look and you think to yourself, “Man, now THAT’S a City!”

    And Wayan, don’t feel too too bad about saying Frisco. I mean, you’re from DC, yah? If I were there, I’d have no idea what the locals call the place; DC? The Cap? The District? The important thing is that you learned. But if you say it again, there will be murders.


  11. TinMan (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 9:59 am

    Whatever you do, don’t call it “SFO” (ess-eff-oh) or write it that way. SFO is the airport 13 miles south in Burlingame.

    While use of the three-letter airport acronym might be acceptable in some cities, for San Francisco it is not. Only dorks do this. In the same way, San Jose is not SJC and Los Angeles is not LAX.


  12. courtney (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 10:19 am

    ugh, “San Fran” bothers me too. I dunno why, but it makes me physically cringe. “SF” and “The City” for this native.


  13. Saneinsf (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

    Actually the airport is under the jurisdiction of CCSF in an unincorporated part of San Mateo county and thus is not in Burlingame.


  14. TinMan (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 4:36 pm

    Okay, okay, so the airport isn’t technically in Burlingame. But it’s right by Burlingame and Millbrae. My point is that the airport is outside the city/county limits.

    How cute! The hair salon at SFO is called the “Hairport”.


  15. Bradley Allen (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 7:20 pm

    It’s “SF” or “San Francisco”. That’s it. Call it nothing else. Learn it, live it, love it. Spread the local knowledge. :-)

    I’ve never felt comfortable calling it “the City” but I know people from San Bruno, etc. who grew up calling it that. But they had mullet haircuts and drove mini trucks. So who am I do argue with such logic?


  16. Matt R. (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 8:50 pm

    Yep, Bradley’s got it: either “SF” or “San Francisco.” Those the handles. But it is fun to yell “Frisco” in a crowded local sports bar with the 49ers playing. Try it this Sunday.


  17. Denise (unregistered) on November 18th, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

    For those who don’t know the long history of natives hating the term “frisco”, here’s a little tidbit. In 1872, Emperor Norton (perhaps The City’s most influential, if not its original eccentric) issued the following edict:

    “Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word “Frisco”, which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars.”

    For more on the character and his impact on our fair city, read the encyclopedia of San Francisco entry on him.


  18. Joy (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 12:48 am

    I lived a decade there,it will always be,
    my beautiful,unique “city by the bay”.
    And no one but no one called her
    Frisco-ew!-even then `65-`75.
    By the way, per your blog about ‘worrisome
    e-quakes in S.F.’ I quit a job in Pyramid bldg. for fear-lol…but none while living there.
    `89 one freaked me good in San Mateo,ever see cement roll like jello?

    no,even back in the 60`s no one called her
    FRISCO! uhg!



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