Why you'll stand out like a tourist if you say this one thing in San Francisco

A new survey has examined how many people from other English-speaking countries call San Francisco by its nicknames, “Frisco” and “San Fran,” even though it irritates local residents.

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Half of the people in a survey thought of The Golden Gate Bridge first when they thought of San Francisco. Image; Andrey Popov/Getty Images/Flickr RF

The findings came as PR firm Bospar released data from its second annual San Francisco Naming Day Survey. It was found that 29% of people from the UKAustralia, New Zealand and Canada don't call San Francisco by its proper name, and "San Fran" and "Frisco" are nicknames that are loathed by residents. They also dislike “Baghdad by the Bay,” “Fog City” and “The City.”

Other nicknames include “Golden Gate City” or “The Golden City.” Of those who call San Francisco “San Fran” or “Frisco,” 84% of respondents said that they heard the nickname in popular culture. More than half say they use “San Fran” because it’s shorter than saying the whole name, and a minority say they use nicknames because they know it annoys the locals.

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Colourfully painted Victorian houses in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, California, Image: Gavin Hellier

The 2019 survey also asked respondents what they think of when they think of San Francisco, and 50% said they thought of the Golden Gate Bridge. The San Francisco Bay came second at 41%, and the Bay Area was third with 30%. After that, it was Alcatraz (29%), The 49ers (18%), LGBT community (16%), hippy culture (14%), Pier 39 (12%), “Full House” (11%) and Golden State Warriors (11%).

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Grace Cathedral located on San Francisco's Nob Hill. Photo by: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images.

“It might be difficult for non-San Franciscans to understand why nicknames like ‘San Fran’ and ‘Frisco’ are so grating,” said Charles Fracchia, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine and president emeritus of the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society. “You wouldn’t meet someone named Richard and call them ‘Dick’ without invitation; calling San Francisco ‘San Fran’ is the same thing. San Franciscans are proud of their city, and calling it by its full name lends the city the dignity it deserves.”