Seeking a Science-Inspired Name

Two teachers need a scientific baby name for their second son

a Name Sage post by: Abby View all Name Sage posts

Liz writes:

I’m a math teacher and science lover, my husband is a history teacher and literary enthusiast. We are expecting our second son, and looking for something that can go with our first son’s name: Truman King, Tru for short.

We’re hoping for a name with ties to science, history, or both. And, because we’re teachers, we’re looking for an unusual name – something we won’t associate with a former student.

Our short list includes Wiles (after the mathematician) and Kepler, but we’re looking for more ideas.

We all know people who color our ideas about a name, for good or otherwise. But teachers have a special challenge, don’t they? They meet dozens of children every year – more, for teachers in upper grades. And their students inevitably shade the way they think about baby names.

Since Liz and her husband are both teachers, it’s a double whammy! Choosing names connected to the subjects they love makes sense. It’s like using a family name. When there are so many positive, powerful associations, another person with the same name won’t do any damage.

Now, to the names.

I think Wiles works. We have kids called Wiley and Wesley and Brooks and Miles, so why not Wiles?

But Kepler? On the plus side, I recognize it as a science reference immediately, and I think lots of others would, too. But it doesn’t feel quite like a given name. I’d put it in the same category as Schrodinger or even Einstein – familiar, but tough to wear.

So let’s think science and mathematics, with some history thrown in, and come up with a shortlist.

Niels Niels jumped out at me immediately, maybe because ends-in-s Wiles is on your shortlist. Depending on the language, Niels is either a form of Nicholas or Cornelius. Danish physicist Niels Bohr won a Nobel Prize in 1922, and he even has a chemical element named in his honor: Bohrium. Niels is popular in Europe, but in the US, it’s quite rare.

Abel – There’s actually a second Niels on this list – Niels Abel, an eighteenth century Norwegian mathematician. He made dozens of contributions to the field during his short life. I love Abel as a brother for Truman because of the subtle hint of virtue name. Truman is honest and Abel is capable. Good connotations, both.

Hardy – I’d never heard of A Mathematician’s Apology before now, but it seems fitting. Written by G.H. Hardy in 1940, the essay is about the art and beauty of mathematics. Hardy’s own specialty was number theory. The G.H. stood for Godfrey Harold. Neither of those names feels quite right for Truman’s brother, but surname Hardy does.

WatsonI would love Watson to work! James Watson and Francis Crick are the co-discovers of the structure of DNA. Watson has won a Nobel Prize for his work. And yet, the more I say it, the more I think it just seems too Sherlock. Still, that’s a literary connection, so I’ll leave it on the list.

Fleming – Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin accidentally, and pioneered the field of modern antibiotics. His last name feels both unexpected and dashing. Some credit might go to James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, for that quality. My only hesitation with Fleming is that’s no logical short form, like Truman’s Tru.

Robinson Robinson makes the list for two reasons. First, there’s English chemist and 1947 Nobel Prize winner Robert Robinson. Second, William Joyce wrote children’s book A Day with Wilbur Robinson back in 1990, the inspiration for Disney’s 2007 film Meet the Robinsons. It’s about both invention and adventure, and there’s a science fair, too. Truman and Robinson, Tru and Rob.

Linus Linus Pauling is the only person to hold two unshared Nobel Prizes. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Eight years later, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He’s a towering figure in twentieth century science and seems like a fitting namesake. And yet, Truman has a certain boldness, while Linus feels quieter.

Huxley – This name always strikes me as literary, thanks to Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World. But the Huxley family was multi-talented. Aldous’ grandfather was the zoologist Thomas Henry Huxley, a close colleague of Charles Darwin. And Aldous’ half-brother was Andrew Huxley, a noted physiologist and Nobel Prize winner. This makes Huxley a name that works in scientific and literary circles. Plus, it’s just plain cool. Truman and HuxleyTru and Hux, Tru and Huck.

What names would you suggest for Truman King’s brother? And do you have any middle name ideas?

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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
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41 Responses to “Seeking a Science-Inspired Name”

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Bobcat108 Says:

April 28th, 2015 at 11:46 pm

I wouldn’t use Fleming because of the “phlegm” sound.

fluffamun Says:

April 28th, 2015 at 11:59 pm

Huxley is my favorite out of the names on this list, but I’ll add one of my favorite names here, because it’s sciency.

Cobalt. It’s an element on the periodic table, it sounds nice with Truman, and Coby is a super cute nn.

It’s also a color name, which is cool. I’ve never met a Cobalt before, but I think it needs to make an appearance in the world asap.

Just an idea. 🙂

kpearl8 Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 12:25 am

Oh, Huxley for sure!!!!

indiefendi2 Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 12:49 am

I think Kepler is awesome, to be honest. K name, er ending, two syllables, rarer than a 4 leaf clover, scientific, easy to pronounce. It’s all around perfect to me!

eveyalecia Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 2:39 am

I like Niels and Abel, but I think Huxley really takes the cake!

Not a fan of either Fleming or Watson. Wiles is nice, but I don’t like it as a sibling of Truman.

languageisbeauty Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 2:53 am

I love Huxley but how could you forget DARWIN!!! My personal scientist love

languageisbeauty Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 2:58 am

I also like Linus, and immediately thought of longer brother name Linneaus. I also love the name Edison

maggiemary Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 5:15 am

What about Selwyn?

Sydney Selwyn was a British scientist (of more recent times, he died in 1996), a pioneer of bone marrow transplants, and also considered an authority on the history of medicine, so that covers the history angle too.

Truman and Selwyn would work well together, or at least I think so.

kaiajade Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 5:56 am

Firstly I love the name Truman King. It’s a solid choice to give to a son.

Huxley also is a strong name. I’m a teacher and have 2 Huxley’s at my primary school in Sydney and one in my class! It’s a strong name which rolls of the tongue easily.

I also like Literacy names such as Atticus and Holden.

As for Science names I like Blaise (Blaise Pascal) and Otto (Otto Van Guerkicke)

As a teacher I appreciate parents going a little ‘outside the box’ for they baby names.

kaiajade Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 5:56 am

Firstly I love the name Truman King. It’s a solid choice to give to a son.

Huxley also is a strong name. I’m a teacher and have 2 Huxley’s at my primary school in Sydney and one in my class! It’s a strong name which rolls of the tongue easily.

I also like Literacy names such as Atticus and Holden.

As for Science names I like Blaise (Blaise Pascal) and Otto (Otto Van Guerkicke)

As a teacher I appreciate parents going a little ‘outside the box’ for their baby names.

peacebird10 Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 7:28 am

I love many of these suggestions, but I’m going to go with a slightly alternative view. Baby girls are named after famous men all the time, but we never hear of boys bearing the name of famous women.

I suggest either Franklin for Rosalind Franklin or Carson for Rachel Carson. Rosalind Franklin has been largely written out of the Crick and Watson story until her contributions have recently been better acknowledged. Carson is known for her work as a marine biologist and conservationist.

Both women contributed to scientific fields that contribute directly to the human narrative, and therefore make great picks for history buffs as well as scientists.

Truman “Tru” and Franklin “Frankie” or Truman “True” and Carson sound really great together, to boot!

kerrymonster Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 7:29 am

I have a Truman M.ichael (Tru) and his brother is Winston ( Win). Their dad also really wanted a science name but a lot of them are very hard to wear. He became obsessed with the name Carl because very many prominent phsysicists have this name. I had to veto that one and still he’s bringing it up for our fourth!

Also wanted to mention Truman’s best friend is Atticus and I think Truman and Atticus would be an amazing subset! maybe Atticus Kepler? I kind of love that.

ellicrow Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 7:41 am

I love Kepler. I think it’s easy to wear and super cool . Fleming? Flem (pleghm) for short? Ick.

marisarose Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 7:51 am

Huxley is my hands down favorite on this list with the nn Huck (like Huckleberry Finn). I abhor Fleming. I think of pleghm.
So, you’d have Truman and Huxley or Tru and Huck. Dashing, erudite young men.

KatieNana Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 8:06 am

Franklin for Benjamin Franklin. I think Truman & Franklin would be darling for siblings.

peach25 Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Good suggestions from everyone. I like Huxley and Kepler best, although Franklin, Edison and Linus are also quite wearable. I think Wiles might always be mistaken for Miles or Wiley (both excellent names).

eveyalecia Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 10:40 am

So many great ideas! I’d like to second Edison (love this name!) and Franklin (for Rosalind Franklin).

chilly9296 Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 10:44 am

my husband is a biologist and we named are dog Darwin, I also love Huxley, Pascal, Albert… what about Jules or Verne, Irwin.

cyoung325 Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 10:48 am

I have to agree with others and say that Huxley wins hands down for me. I think it sounds super smart and goes so well with Truman. The nickname Huck is a fantastic plus as well. I love Watson as well but I don’t think I like it much with Truman. While I like the surname Fleming I just don’t see it working as a first name because of the phlegm sound and it’s very similar to Lemmings which I wouldn’t want associated with my son. Oh and Robinson is pretty cool too but I’d rather use the nickname Sonny as opposed to Rob simply because Rob sounds too common next to Tru.

Mathmamma Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Love all the comments! How do you guys like Hendrik after Hedrik Lorentz a Nobel Prize winning Physicist that Einstein built his work on? We LOVE Hendrik but are now struggling with a middle name. I do love Huxley too though-this is so hard!

Thanks again,


brianerose Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Peacebird10, thank you so much for including such fantastic women!

My initial plan for children was to name my daughter Sagan, after Carl, and my son Carson, after Rachel 😀

mallowd Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 4:43 pm

I love Abel, Linus, and Huxley! Tru and Hux are SO CUTE! My boyfriend has a Tesla tatoo, so I’d add Nikola, although I guess in the U.S. may seem feminine.

freehal Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Tyson could work too, for Neil Degrasse Tyson.

SimoneKadele Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 5:43 pm

I was surprised that Darwin isn’t on this list!! I second that suggestion. 🙂

SimoneKadele Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Or if you’re daring, Leonardo and Galileo are adorable.

Tylerwyler Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 6:18 pm

I’d like to make a comment about the name ‘Watson’ where you said those two men were the co discoverers of the structure on of DNA. They’re not. They stole it from a woman named Rosalind and I forget her last name. I don’t think that’s an honorable man to name your child after

roseannaendicott Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 8:58 pm

I also would like a scientific name for my baby. I like the names Kelvin and Argon.

triss Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 10:36 pm

I agree with what indiefendi2 said. Kepler seems perfect. It’s easy to say and spell and understand and can have the sweet nn Kip.

vintageluvs Says:

April 30th, 2015 at 8:15 pm

Can I make some suggestions?
(Rachel) Carson
(Arthur) Cayley
(René) Descartes
(Annie) Dillard
(David) Hilbert
(Robert) Hooke
(Carl) Linnaeus
(Margaret) Mead
Milne – Edward Arthur & Alan Alexander “A.A.”
(Isaac) Newton
(Blaise) Pascal
Rutherford – Ernest Rutherford & Rutherford Birchard Hayes
(Henry David) Thoreau

Also, another member of the Huxley family is Sir Julian Huxley, who was a British evolutionary biologist in the 20th century.

kimberley13 Says:

April 30th, 2015 at 9:10 pm

A friend of mine just had a baby named Edis0n H@wth0rne. She is a literary major and her husband is a scientist. The name could not be more perfect for them!

tori101 Says:

May 1st, 2015 at 3:59 am

Huxley is my favourite it’s a great name and sounds awesome with Truman!!

I also like Hardy but I think Huxley works better due to the length being similar to Truman and the name as the go to nickname of Hux like Tru with Truman

mountainsky Says:

May 2nd, 2015 at 12:11 am

I love Linus (or Linnaeus), Carson, or Franklin.

valentinayvonne Says:

May 2nd, 2015 at 9:32 pm

You mentioned in the comments liking the name Hendrik and needing a nickname. How would Hendrik Kepler or Hendrik Wiles sound?

LMurphy0929 Says:

May 3rd, 2015 at 6:51 am

We are looking into Apollo for our babe if it’s a boy. Actually, Abel Apollo or just Apollo. Apollo…father of medicine, (I think mathematics), and music

wannabewriter Says:

May 3rd, 2015 at 10:13 am

I would go with the name Kipling with the nickname Kip. This is after the author Rudyard Kipling, born Joseph Rudyard Kipling, who wrote Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The Jungle Book, along with a slew of short science fiction stories and poems. Kipling is a name that is close to Kepler, but it is a tad more usable, and it still uncommon enough that you won’t be reminded of any of your students.

KickinKay Says:

May 3rd, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Huxley was the first name I thought of when reading the title of the blog before clicking. Scientific and literary reference all in one! As a pre-vet student, I am extremely partial to the biologists and medical innovators. I have considered Jonas (Jonas Salk), Louis (Louis Pasteur), and Jenner (Edward Jenner) for my own future son. Normally I am not a fan of two-two syllable naming, but I think Huxley Jonas is unbelievably handsome, and I agree that Tru and Huck/Hux would be adorable together. Actually, if you really like the name Jonas and were planning to have a third child, I would save the name. Truman, Huxley, and Jonas would be the sibset of the century in my eyes.

Doctorjones89 Says:

May 4th, 2015 at 5:21 pm

I’m really loving Kepler! It’s on point with the 2 syllable, ‘er’ trend for, but unheard of with a great science background. Also loving Huxley and Abel.

I love the suggestion of using famous women scientist last names, but (Rosalind) Franklin and Truman together feel very presidential to me, unless of course you appreciate that extra reference. Carson works, though.

scribblingbelle Says:

May 12th, 2015 at 5:49 pm

I love the suggestions of Abel & Huxley.

What about Edison (a la Thomas)?

Baby name consultant: Theologian + science/nature? | Sancta Nomina Says:

June 1st, 2015 at 9:46 am

[…] also found an awesome consultation by Appellation Mountain’s Abby over at Nameberry in which the parents were looking for a scientific name for their son. I didn’t include any of the ideas here, but maybe you’ll all be inspired by some of […]

goddess_patreice Says:

June 3rd, 2015 at 6:53 am

Truman & …

Alchemy (medieval science word name)

Galileo (old Italian name of the Renaissance astronomer & mathematician)

Ptolemy (ancient Egyptian king occupied in mathematics, geography, astrology, astronomy & poetry)

Science-Inspired Surname Names – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

April 11th, 2017 at 10:48 pm

[…] – I suggested Robinson back in this post. It’s a nod to Nobel Prize-winning chemist Robert Robinson. Another plus: Disney’s Meet the […]

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