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The word “frindle” is a symbol of innovation. In the story, Nick learns that innovation is an uphill battle—but one well worth fighting.
Nick is not an ordinary fifth grader. He is wily and smart, and kind of sneaky. He is not fond of the homework language arts teacher Mrs. Granger gives out, so he tries to distract her by asking her why she likes dictionaries so much. This leads him to investigate how new words are made. He learns that they are made by ordinary people, and a thing has a name because that’s what people call it.
Nick decides to get back at Mrs. Granger with a little experiment. He wants to start calling pens “frindles” and see if it sticks. It does. Mrs. Granger reacts as expected—she fights the new word with everything she has. She requires every kid in the school who uses the word to stay after school as a punishment.
Nick discovers that innovation comes at a price. Not everyone is happy with the new word. Yet soon enough, it is used regularly. He becomes a hero and appears on national talk shows. Eventually, it is not a novelty, but just a regular word.
The word frindle follows the cycle of innovation. First the idea, and then the early adopeters—Nick’s friends, bring the word to life. Then there is resistance from the established ideas, shown through Mrs. Granger’s fight for the word to pen, out of respect for the dictionary.
The] dictionary was worked on by hundreds of very smart people for many years, so as far as we are concerned, that dictionary is the law. Laws can change, of course, but only if they need to. (ch 5, p. 31)
Yet Nick finds out years later that Mrs. Granger was actually trying to fight for the word by fighting against it. She gave it the publicity to really go somewhere, and it did—into the dictionary.
Like all innovations, Nick's idea needed a sponsor. Mrs. Granger and Bud Lawrence, the marketer, made his idea big.
I think that's the point- there isn't really one because it really isn't a word. In the book it's a made up word because the student doesn't understand who decides that this "object" is a "pencil", "pen", "ball". Who gets to choose? He doesn't like that his teacher loves the dictionary and they look words up. So he decides, to the horror of his teacher [at first] to create a word and decide what the word actually means.
Because this book is named Frindle and is used as a word to replace "pen" then it appears that it is assumed [by readers perhaps this word would mean "pen". The links below attempt to give "Frindle" a definition- but often address the book as well.
After reading the book with my fifth grade students, we decided Frindle was a persons ability to create a name for an object. For example, everyday objects have names that we have grown up with or have been introduced to and they have stuck in our brains. For example, the computer, RAM, flash drive and a DVD. Many people didn't question the name, but we accepted it. My class and I felt that using the term "Frindle" for a pen was his way of showing a students' ability to rename an object. It showed that anyone can name an object.
I think that what this really means is that nothing is the way it seems. We can have different ideas about objects or just "things". Always question.
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