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Science-Inspired Surname Names

April 11, 2017 Abby Sandel

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?

Olivia writes:

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.

Please help!

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 DylanLandonCarson 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.

Hutton James Hutton is often called the Father of Modern Geology. The Scottish surname brings to mind actors like Lauren and Timothy. But it feels very wearable, too, and much less common.

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.

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

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