The Hottest Scientist Baby Names

Aug 12th 2016


A decade ago, this article couldn't have existed. Hot, fast-rising names inspired by scientists rather than movie heroes or sports stars? Not a chance. But parents are starting to look to new sources of baby name inspiration, especially sources that carry their own unique cultural energy. For some families, that means the high wattage of rock star names. For others, it's the heroes of science, technology and mathematics who light up the night.

At first glance, you might dismiss some of these trending names as mere coincidence. After all, Tesla is now an automobile brand as well as the name of inventor Nikola Tesla. Pascal is a French and German given name as well as mathematician Blaise Pascal. Carver means skateboards and short stories as well as a botanist George Washington Carver. But then there's Feynman. The 20 American boys named after physicist Richard Feynman last year make it clear that scientific names are for real.


Nikola Tesla. Image via commons.wikimedia.org

All of these scientist names have risen in popularity over the past decade, most doubling, tripling or more. If you like the idea of name inspired by the spirit of discovery, you should find plenty of ideas here—or perhaps you'll be emboldened to name after a scientific hero of your own.

FAST-RISING SCIENTIST BABY NAMES

Archimedes: The greatest mathematician of ancient Greece never even registered in American baby name statistics until this decade. Quirky, classical and unquestionably scientific, Archimedes is still a very rare name, but rising.

Carver: This name has many associations, but its links to George Washington Carver run deep. Before this generation, the name's historic peak was the year of the famous African-American botanist's death. For bonus scientist points, Carver Mead is a modern pioneer of microelectronics.

Edison: Inventor Thomas Alva Edison's surname fits in particularly well with contemporary name styles. It's the most popular name on this list, rising alongside other -son names from American history like Emerson and Jackson.

Feynman: This unlikely name trend is a tribute to the spirit of physicist Richard Feynman as well as to his scientific accomplishments. Feyman's popular memoirs show off an irreverent soul who lived life to the fullest.

Galileo: Astronomer/physicist Galileo Galilei's discoveries led to his conviction for heresy. Yet the baby name Galileo, with its lyrical sound and celestial associations, suggests the romantic, adventurous side of scientific discovery.

Joule: Physicist James Prescott Joule's name name made its first-ever appearance in the baby name stats last year. Pronounced like "jewel," it is given most often to girls.

Kepler: The action-minded -er ending makes mathematician/ astronomer Johannes Kepler's name sound current, but the nod to scientific history is clear.

Pascal: The most traditional given name on this list, the French name Pascal refers to Easter and was once a traditional choice for boys born on Good Friday. In English it's linked more strongly to mathematician/philosopher Blaise Pascal.

Sagan: Astronomer Carl Sagan is best known for popularizing his discipline with exuberance and awe. The name (pronounced SAY-gin) is given to both sexes, but more often boys.

Tesla: Long underappreciated, electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla is much admired among a new generation of inventors and engineers. Tesla electric cars were named in his honor, as were 166 girls (and 5 boys) last year.

Tycho: Groundbreaking 16th-century astronomer Tycho Brahe was no cloistered academic. Hugely wealthy, Brahe was known for eccentric indulgences like keeping a pet elk, and wearing a fake brass nose after his own nose was harmed in a duel over a mathematical formula. The name is usually pronounced TIE-ko.

 

Comments

2
August 12, 2016 11:12 AM

It would be nice to see some female scientists' names on this list. I mean, female babies can be given these names, of course, as you mention in several of these cases. But I'd rather see boys and girls both being named after a more diverse set of scientists. 

3
August 12, 2016 12:26 PM

I was going to say the same thing about names inspired by women scientiest. I know Ada (as in Ada Lovelace) is on the rise. Curie (as in Marie Curie) possibly?

5
By mk
August 12, 2016 4:21 PM

I agree, we need more female scientists:

Rosalind Franklin

Lise Meitner

Emilie du Chatelet

Hypatia

Irene Joliet-Curie

More recent:

Lynn Margulis

Gertrude Elion

6
August 13, 2016 4:54 PM

I'm not happy about the lack of female scientists on the list either. Believe me, I did look hard for examples.

Remember, this isn't just a list of ideas for scientist-inspired names -- it's tracking a trend, names **that are measurably rising in popularity** and are strongly linked to scientists. Franklin and Ada aren't specific enough to Rosalind Franklin and Ada Lovelace. Meitner, Margulis, and (remarkably) Curie have never shown up in the stats. I came close to including Hopper for Grace Hopper, but when I asked people what comes to mind when they hear that name, most said "painter" and the rest said "frog."

If any of you can come up with an example that fills the bill, I'll be delighted to edit the post and include it!

Thanks,
Laura

7
August 14, 2016 3:22 AM

Out of curiosity y'all might want to peruse this wonderful list of pre-twentieth century female scientists, most of whom I have never heard of.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_scientists_before_the_20th_century

Laura is the number-cruncher, not me, so I don't know if any of these names are on the rise because of their association with the namesake scientist.  Maybe Florence, although I think Welch, not Nightingale, is now the dominant association.

While there are many twentieth and twenty-first century women making major scientific contributions, I didn't see any with distinctive names climbing the charts.  Some of them are even very famous, but their names are generally pretty pedestrian--think Jane Goodall and Margaret Mead.

8
By mk
August 15, 2016 5:36 PM

I didn't think any were rising in the charts and sadly, the fact that none were didn't surprise me. Just wantd to throw out some awesome female scientists in case anyone was looking for a scientist baby name! Maybe one say several will become a "hot" name.

9
August 16, 2016 7:52 AM

I had a (male) Galen this year.  While this science name is on the decline, it fits in remarkable well with the Jaydens and Jaelens and Aidens that are his classmates.

10
By Spam
August 16, 2016 10:05 PM

Ooh!  Perhaps my favorite subject!  Thank you for this great post.  Tycho wasnt on my radar but now I'll definitely have to consider that!  I LOVE Joule, such a spunky name especially to people who know about it as a unit of energy.  I also love Darrow (Clarence Darrow) and Elon (Musk).  Carver really fits into the in/upcoming name style with that-er ending.  Another thought:  how great would Hubble be for a dog or cat?

11
August 17, 2016 6:54 PM

Our daughter's middle name is after a woman scientist but being both her middle name and a fairly common name otherwise it doesn't really make trend material.

 

I'm surprised Tesla is not more popular. I went to school with one years and years ago.

12
August 23, 2016 12:21 PM

We named our daughter Rosalind. She is named after Rosalind Franklin. There are a lot of awesome scientist girls name. Some are on the rise too. I feel you neglected them on this list.

13
August 23, 2016 3:07 PM

Melindasue22 beat me to Grace Hopper! I met her once. She gave me a whole handful of "nanoseconds" :)

14
August 23, 2016 8:22 PM

judeebee, as Laura commented upthread, she wasn't compiling a list of random scientist-inspired names, she was compiling a list of trending scientist-inspired names. If there aren't any female scientists in the mix, blame the parents, not the messenger.

15
By Rhii
August 24, 2016 4:35 PM

We named our puppy Tycho. 

16
September 5, 2016 5:53 AM

I doubt that the recent Feynman trend is sparked by the scientitist. There is now a DJ Yoann Feynman using the stage name Feynman, maybe he's the inspiration for this name.

 

See also my comment here: http://www.nancy.cc/2015/05/11/top-boy-name-debuts-2014/

17
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