Science-Inspired Surname Names
They chose surname names for their first two sons. Now they’re considering Edison for a third boy. Is it just the right mix of science and style? Or is there a better name out there?
I am due in May with our third boy. Our other sons are named Lincoln and Sullivan. We wanted something that fits nicely with that sibling set, preferably a surname as a first name, and preferably with a science “flavour” to it. Our surname ends in “er” which rules out nearly all names ending in “er” as it sounds too rhyme-y.
After scouring Nameberry for hours and then whittling down our list (including amazing names like Huxley and Forest) we have settled on Edison. We both love it, but I can’t help feeling like there is a better name out there. I never had this niggling feeling with my first two son’s names!
I am slightly concerned that having three names ending in “n” could be a bit cheesy. Am I overthinking? I feel like I need permission to stop looking, or some assurance that we haven’t missed a hidden gem and Edison is indeed the most perfect name for us.
The Name Sage replies:
I’m convinced that it gets tougher to name children as our families grow. The longer we parent, the more kids we meet – and the more names we hear! Names that once sounded fresh and new are now heard in every swim class and playgroup.
Factor in that we have often used our favorites, and it can create the perfect circumstances for doubt.
I do think Edison hits exactly the right note. While some parents hesitate to repeat an ending, others might worry about breaking the pattern if two sons’ names ended in ‘n’ and the third did not. There’s no right answer.
One thing to consider: if you’re hoping to add to your family after this child, it might be better to avoid – or embrace – the pattern now, before you find yourself naming your eighth child Octavian because nothing else fits. (Though I think Octavian is a smashing name.)
When you’ve found a name that feels like it’s probably – but not for sure and certain – the right name, I think it’s a good idea to test others against it.
Let’s mix in surname names that end in ‘n’ with some that don’t follow the pattern. A few of these have strong and obvious ties to science, while others might be a little more of a stretch.
Brandt – Swedish mineralogist Georg Brandt discovered cobalt. While cobalt was used for millennia, Brandt was the first to recognize it as a metal. Brandt makes for an interesting name, similar to Brandon and Brent, but much less expected.
Dalton – I’ve always liked Dalton. Despite fitting nicely into the Dylan–Landon–Carson mold, Dalton has never really caught on in a big way. Early nineteenth century English scientist John Dalton is best known for his work on modern atomic theory, though he worked in several fields.
Fleming – Alexander Fleming won the 1945 Nobel Prize for his discovery of penicillin. It’s very much in the style of Lincoln and Sullivan, but slightly different, too. One downside: the most famous bearer of the surname is probably Ian Fleming, author and creator of James Bond.
Franklin – As in Benjamin Franklin. While he’s better known as a statesman than a man of science, his experiments were legendary. Think of the image of a young Benjamin Franklin flying a kite during a storm to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning.
Maxwell – Nineteenth century physicist James Clerk Maxwell formulated the theory of electromagnetic radiation, a precursor to modern physics. The upside is that Maxwell is very wearable as a surname name, just like Lincoln and Sullivan. But unlike Edison, the ties to science aren’t necessarily obvious.
Robinson – I suggested Robinson back in this post. It’s a nod to Nobel Prize-winning chemist Robert Robinson. Another plus: Disney’s Meet the Robinsons is the tale of a fictional family of time-traveling inventors, which lends it another science tie-in.
I’m not sure any of these top Edison, but I’d be tempted by Hutton. The one possible issue with Edison is that I’m so tempted to shorten it to Eddie or Ed. I suspect Lincoln and Sullivan are rarely nicknamed; Hutton might fit that pattern better.
And yet, if you’re looking for a clear tie-in to science, I think Edison becomes the strongest name on the list.
Readers, I’d love to hear your creative ideas. Are there any great surname names for boys, preferably ending with n and connecting to science? Also, I’m adding a poll, because I think Olivia would love to hear whether you’re pro-Edison, or think they should keep looking.
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on April 12th, 2017 at 12:50 am
I actually disagree, I think that Edison is a really cool name. Plus awesome nicknames like Eddie, Teddie etc.
on April 12th, 2017 at 1:02 am
Not all of these are surnames but whatever –
on April 12th, 2017 at 2:20 am
I think there are loads of nickname possibilities for these names: Link, Sully/Van and Ed/Eddy/Sonny! Edison is my favourite by far.
on April 12th, 2017 at 4:44 am
Among scientist surnames, I prefer Darwin over Edison. Lincoln, Sullivan,, and Darwin.
If the n at the end is an issue for you, I also like :
on April 12th, 2017 at 5:21 am
I used to have Darwin and Edison as a guilty pleasure twin/sibset, I think Edison is a great name, especially with Lincoln and Sullivan. Also wanted to add Franklin also has Rosalind Franklin as a scientist association.
on April 12th, 2017 at 5:45 am
What about Edward ‘Tatum’ or Joseph ‘Taylor’
on April 12th, 2017 at 6:04 am
I also love Graham, Newton and Kepler
on April 12th, 2017 at 7:03 am
From the suggestions, I think Maxwell is a really great option.
My first thought was Kepler until you mentioned the last name problem, but it still might work, I don’t know.
I also think Pascal would be an excellent choice.
Some other options could be
on April 12th, 2017 at 7:19 am
I think Edison is exactly perfect. Don’t second guess yourself!
on April 12th, 2017 at 9:15 am
I think Lincoln and Sullivan are just as likely to be nicknamed as Edison. The Lincoln I’ve known best was often called Link, and the Sullivan in my family has been pretty regularly called Sully. An Edison might get called Ed(die), but (a) that might be fine and/or not that different from his brothers, and (b) I think he’d have less trouble going by just Edison than he would if he were trying to go by just Edward.
on April 12th, 2017 at 9:28 am
My first thought when I read the title was “Newton” – it ends in ‘n’ too but I don’t think that’s much of an issue and you can’t get much bigger a scientific influence than Isaac Newton!
on April 12th, 2017 at 10:04 am
Whether or not Edison is a good name is one issue, but I wouldn’t want to use anything associated with Thomas Edison. (It would be different imo if the baby could say, ‘it was my grandma’s maiden name’ or something.)
Edison was a bully and a fraud, and although he has been glorified in the past, there is much to suggest that he was not the godsend we make him out to be. Of his most notable sins, he stole many of Tesla’s ideas and patented them for himself, and profited. Edison was more of a businessman than a scientist.
So if you’re already not 1000% sold on it, I’d find something else. There are heaps of good suggestions here, and I’ll cast a vote for Faraday which @paw suggested and Franklin which @ Myosotis suggested.
on April 12th, 2017 at 10:35 am
Science surnames (& the first name):
Michelson (Albert Abraham)
Humboldt (Alexander von)
Wallace (Alfred Russel)
Baird (John Logie)
Jamison (Mae Carol)
Good luck! 🙂
on April 12th, 2017 at 11:44 am
Edison wasn’t really an inventor, he was mostly a businessman. The Oatmeal has some really good comics on the subject of how much of an uninteresting douche Thomas Edison was.
How about –
Galileo (Galilei) – NN Leo?
Newton (Isaac) – NN Newt
Behring (Emil Adolf von) – NN Bear?
on April 12th, 2017 at 11:55 am
This is the first time I’ve had to look up a word I saw on Nameberry!!! >.< "niggling" lol!
on April 12th, 2017 at 12:05 pm
Edison is a great name. Other science names you could consider include Pascal and Kelvin (like the unit, or Thomson – his real last name). My other favourite which was suggested is Maxwell – but I am an engineer and maxwell’s laws are a clear association to me.
on April 12th, 2017 at 12:42 pm
There’s Peyton, as in Francis Peyton Rous who was a Nobel Prize-winning doctor of virology.
on April 12th, 2017 at 3:07 pm
Fischer (Hans/Ernst Fischer)
Teresa H Said
on April 12th, 2017 at 5:53 pm
How about Benjamin or Franklin?
on April 13th, 2017 at 7:25 am
I’m not a fan of Edison… for the reasons a few other ppl have stated. Don’t think he’s a good role model.
Robinson (that’s probably my favorite)
In terms of all 3 names ending in -n, I don’t think it’s a problem because the end sounds are different. And it’s a nice way to tie the brothers together 🙂
-son or -ton or -lin, for example
on April 14th, 2017 at 8:24 am
I feel like Dalton and Franklin fit in with his brothers more than Edison. Big brothers’ names share an “L” in addition to the “N” endings.
on April 14th, 2017 at 8:39 pm
She didn’t actually say she wanted a science name, I thought she just liked the science association in Edison. I really like the other names she chose- Huxley & Forest. They go great with the siblings and have the same style without being too matchy.
I find the n ending in Edison too much, but maybe it could go in the middle spot?
Huxley Edison is my favourite.
I love the sound of Linc, Sully & Hux.
She’s chosen great names.
on April 15th, 2017 at 9:40 am
Not a fan of Edison. How about (Clarence) Darrow? I also like Flannery, Tycho/Tyge, Galen, Heron, and many of the other suggestions.
Off topic but I would love Joule for a girl
on April 17th, 2017 at 8:04 am
I think Hawking, Franklin (Rosalind and Benjamin), and Dalton are great names.
Edison too me is just not right, I think she is right to second guess herself.
Here are some suggestions:
Watson (James, discoverer of DNA)
Carver (George Washington)
Carson (Rachel, pioneer of Environmentalism)- Carson Forest has a nice ring!
Fisher (guy invented experimental design and I like the sound of it with Lincoln, Sullivan and Fisher)
Hopper (Grace, pioneer of computers and a woman to boot)
Compton (physicist, discovered how light behaves)
Yes, I have a problem with collecting famous scientists. Darwin is def on my list to but there are some great names.
on April 17th, 2017 at 9:31 am
I think Edison is perfect. Lincoln, Sullivan & Edison sound and look perfect. Each boy gets their own initial and has a different amount of letters, but the names really sound like they belong together. I think Edison really is the perfect name and you shouldn’t second guess yourself!
If you wanted a name with a different ending, I liked the suggestion of Maxwell, just because it felt a bit less like a last name, more like Lincoln & Sullivan – which while they are last names, are also well known first names. Problem with Maxwell? It will almost certainly become just Max. But I think it’s ok if one of the boys has a nickname and the others don’t. My brother has a nickname and I don’t, and it’s never bothered either of us (as far as I’m aware).
on April 17th, 2017 at 11:07 pm
What about Tyson (as in Neil Degrasse) or Darwin. I’m assuming from your consideration of Huxley that you would consider sci fi authors as well: Wells, Verne, Vonnegut or Bradbury are all options.
I agree with previous posters that Edison was not an honorable man and isn’t a good role model.
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