Help Us Pick A Non-Religious Name for a Boy.
July 11, 2011 3:28 PM   Subscribe

We're having a boy But we can't think of a name! As we're both atheists, we'd like a name that is not at all religious. There's extra points if you can come up with a science connection and triple bonus points if it's more difficult for other kids to make fun of.

To give you an idea of what we're after, we had decided on Theia for a name had it been a girl. Theia was a protoplanet that collided with a very young Earth and formed the moon. So in short, Theia was a nice name that has a strong scientific connection. It was also pretty hard to come up with ways to tease. Of course, kids will find a way to make fun of any one but if the name is not an obvious starting point, all the better.

So we can't think of a boys name that fits this criteria. Logan was one we sort of liked but in Australia (where we live) it's very easily teasable (rhymes with bogan). Darwin was also briefly considered, but it's also easily teasable and also it doesn't seem to work as well as a given name.

So we're at a loss. If you could suggest a few names for boys that are (in decreasing order of importance) not religious, connected in some way to something scientific and finally, hard to tease, we'd be very grateful for your assistance.
posted by Effigy2000 to Human Relations (115 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
My nephew's middle name is Orion, which fits the bill. (I guess technically it's mythological, which could be considered religious, but I suspect you're more trying to avoid modern biblical or equivalent names.)
posted by maxim0512 at 3:32 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll lend you the name that my wife and I have flagged for a boy, if/when we have kids - Tycho.
posted by SNWidget at 3:33 PM on July 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Mr. Meat has claimed Isaac and Newton for twin boys. Not that we plan on having them.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:34 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Tycho, and suggested that to my wife a couple of days ago, but she knows I read Penny Arcade, so she vetoed it on that basis, I think.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:35 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can make fun of anything if you're motivated. Theeeeia, wouldn't wanna be ya!

That said, Nicolaus (for Nicolaus Copernicus) is scientific, celestial, and means your kid will still be able to find pencils and mugs with his (nick)name on them.
posted by headspace at 3:36 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the first letter of your last name?
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:36 PM on July 11, 2011


Kepler
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 3:37 PM on July 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Newton
Kepler
posted by scody at 3:37 PM on July 11, 2011


Leo. Derivative of Galileo and also a constellation.
posted by amro at 3:38 PM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Archimedes? You could call him Archie.
posted by SMPA at 3:38 PM on July 11, 2011


"You can make fun of anything if you're motivated."

I know, so it's probably the least important of the three criteria. But some names are harder to tease than others.

"What's the first letter of your last name?"

B.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:39 PM on July 11, 2011


Niels
posted by mauvest at 3:39 PM on July 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Tesla! Doitdoitdoitdoitdoitdoitdoitdoit!

Crusher Destroyer?
What about some of the names from the space race? People back then had cool names.

Mozart!
posted by Jacen at 3:40 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Arche.
posted by lalex at 3:40 PM on July 11, 2011


We named our son Alden, which was Neil Armstrong's middle name. The other names on our short list were Victor, Julian, and something I can't remember. My husband rejected my very favorite boy's name, which is Rowan.

If we had used Victor, I was going to lobby for his middle name to be Cayley, after Sir George Cayley, who is my six-times-great grandfather. The downside is that it sounds just like Kaylee, which is a girl's name.
posted by KathrynT at 3:40 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bryson!
posted by SMPA at 3:41 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Linus
Pascal
Galen
Cormac
Louis
posted by barnone at 3:41 PM on July 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


James Tiberius
posted by AlliKat75 at 3:41 PM on July 11, 2011 [22 favorites]


Dang, mauvest got to Niels before I did. With your last name beginning with B, it makes it extra good. Totally Niels.
posted by dayintoday at 3:42 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about Max?
posted by argonauta at 3:45 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Galen, the ancient physician? Isaac? If you want, I can send you all the names we considered; my husband pre-emptively rejected everything "strange, generic, or Biblical," so we were working with a pretty constrained set.
posted by KathrynT at 3:46 PM on July 11, 2011


Our boy name was Linus. Well, it was Elvis, but if we'd had boy-boy twins the other one would have been Linus.
posted by padraigin at 3:52 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Louis (Pasteur or Daguerre)
Astley (Cooper)
posted by phunniemee at 3:53 PM on July 11, 2011


A friend of mine has kids named Archimedes and Galileo. If Archimedes had been a girl, I think he would have been Hypatia. I see those have both been mentioned already, but I still like them.
posted by hades at 3:54 PM on July 11, 2011


Ångström (unless he comes from a long line of tall men). Also works great with Theia.
posted by ouke at 3:55 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Edison?
posted by mazola at 3:56 PM on July 11, 2011


Mach.
Alpher.
Kapitsa.
Bragg.
Loewy.
Faraday.
Marconi.
Kilby.
Massey.
Physicists always have the best names.

David and Posh Spice-Beckham just named their kid Seven, so it's lost all its cachet.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:11 PM on July 11, 2011


Nikola, and call him Nik.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:16 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always been fond of the old recursive style of names, as in "(Martin Luther) King," "(George Washington) Carver" and "(Woodrow Wilson) Guthrie" and I sort of wish someone would revive it.

Anyway, I threatened a while ago to put the extra-recursive "((George Washington) Carver) Lastname" on the list of male baby names, but my wife vetoed the idea. It's yours if you want it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:16 PM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tyson - (Neal deGrasse Tyson)
Bertrand or Russell (Bertrand Russell)
Edison (Thomas Edison)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:20 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oates
Falcon
(I love Antarctic explorers and what's cooler than being named Falcon?)
posted by raccoon409 at 4:21 PM on July 11, 2011


Lucius (when he's in trouble), Luc for short. Light: the universal constant; the fastest thing there is; the stuff from the far reaches of the universe; a symbol of a life illuminated by science, rather than a fear of the dark.

Bonuses:

His face when he first heard Beru call 'Luuuuuke!'
Lucius Malfoy
Lucius Fox
Lucius Best

posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:23 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK more science fiction than science (but he did predate the idea for geostationary satellites) Arthur C. Clarke would be a great name sake (although Arthur does actually mean "follower of Thor" apparently) but although he was all over the map as a younger man, he did give us gems like, "One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion." and "...if there are any gods whose chief concern is man, they cannot be very important gods."
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:25 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sagan
posted by tamitang at 4:32 PM on July 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Sol is kind of a great name I think. Although if you spell it out, S-O-L, it is teasable in an elaborate way.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:34 PM on July 11, 2011


Carl means "free man" or just "man" in old Norse, and recalls Carl Sagan.
posted by Quietgal at 4:34 PM on July 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think Archimedes and Darwin fall in the teasable category, unfortunately.
posted by radioamy at 4:34 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thirding Edison. I think Edison is double rockstar good. Not only Thomas Edison from the past, but Edison Carter from 20 minutes into the future.
posted by Gucky at 4:38 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like Kelvin and Gregor (as in Mendel).
posted by arianell at 4:44 PM on July 11, 2011


Évariste or Evaristus might be a little out there, but I think it's an awesome name and Évariste Galois was one of the most bad-ass mathematicians out there (an anti-monarchist activist who invented a field of mathematics and died under suspicious circumstances in a duel over a woman, all before turning 21).
posted by en forme de poire at 4:50 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, what about Klein?
posted by en forme de poire at 4:52 PM on July 11, 2011


Sagan

... or alternately Carl.
posted by philip-random at 4:57 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some friends named their son Darwin a few years ago, so it's definitely been done as a first name.
posted by kbuxton at 4:58 PM on July 11, 2011


How about Alan (Turing)?

And I think Darwin is a great choice. I don't see how it's any more "teaseable" than most others.
posted by sjshaw at 5:01 PM on July 11, 2011


Wolfram
posted by ian1977 at 5:01 PM on July 11, 2011


My son's name is Nils, see also Niels Bohr.
posted by handful of rain at 5:05 PM on July 11, 2011


When picking names for my son we had two choices and a predicate. If he had my wife's coloring (olive skinned, dark hair) he would be Maxwell Cornelius (a name to grow into). If he had my coloring (reddish hair, fair skin) he would be Stuart Donovan. The red curly hair made the choice easy. We narrowed in on these by sound.

How about Escher?

One of the other names we considered was Byron, which is a family name.

My brother-in-law promised his sisters that he would name his first born son Mustafah Agamemnon. That didn't happen.

Congratulations!
posted by plinth at 5:07 PM on July 11, 2011


Neutrino.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:11 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia has a list of athiest philosophers

So you might look there. Just please don't name your kid after Ayn Rand or Nietzche. Tx.
posted by bananafish at 5:21 PM on July 11, 2011


There's also a list of athiest scientists.
posted by bananafish at 5:24 PM on July 11, 2011


Stephen Jay for Stephen Jay Gould.
posted by Prayless at 5:24 PM on July 11, 2011


Doctorow? /me ducks
posted by roboton666 at 5:28 PM on July 11, 2011


But in all seriousness, I think Ulysses is an awesome name, then there is also Leo, which is a star, and the first name of the inventor of the Theremin. Speaking of, I wish I'd been with it enough to name my son Robert after Bob Moog.

There's also Theo, kinda like Theia.

I like name that end in "eo". I can only imagine how sweetly one can talk to a baby whose names ends with a vowel combo that go with love-speak like peanut butter and chocolate.
posted by roboton666 at 5:36 PM on July 11, 2011


Nevermind the theremin reference, his name was Leon..
posted by roboton666 at 5:37 PM on July 11, 2011


A friend of mine just named her son Faraday and another named his daughter Tesla (which I think could work for a boy although it seems feminine to me. There are few male names in English that end in a vowel). Given that kid's names are more diverse today than they were in the 70s/80s, those both seem awesome. Bonus: I have not one but two friends who named their daughter Nova after the PBS show.
posted by alicetiara at 5:40 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]



To give you an idea of what we're after, we had decided on Theia for a name had it been a girl. Theia was a protoplanet that collided with a very young Earth and formed the moon. So in short, Theia was a nice name that has a strong scientific connection. It was also pretty hard to come up with ways to tease. Of course, kids will find a way to make fun of any one but if the name is not an obvious starting point, all the better.


Don't do this. My little sister has a unique name and it's very hard for people to remember or spell, and I'm pretty sure people will make fun of it anyway.

Lucius (when he's in trouble), Luc for short. Light: the universal constant; the fastest thing there is; the stuff from the far reaches of the universe; a symbol of a life illuminated by science, rather than a fear of the dark.

that's associated with Lucifer
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:43 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nthing not giving bebe a unique name. I have a quasi-unique name and I HATE IT. People misspell, mispronounce and misabuse it all the freaking time. It was so bad in high school that I actually considered legally changing my name.

Please, please, please give them a name that is not common but still easily pronounceable and spellable.

Baby Leezie is named Owen. It is unscrew-up-able. We did that on purpose.
posted by Leezie at 5:49 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the Portuguese name for "free thinker" is most apt and actually sounds quite nice when pronounced. Click and see/listen
posted by rmhsinc at 5:51 PM on July 11, 2011


Jasper is a neat-looking mineral and a neat-sounding name. Rowan is a kind of tree and also a nice-sounding name. Both names are spiking in popularity (at least in the US—I'm not sure about Australia), though, so if it's important to you that your kid not have the same name as any of his schoolmates, these might not work.
posted by Orinda at 5:53 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Francis, as in Francis Crick?

Now that I work with children, I come across so many names that I can neither pronounce nor which give any hint at determining the sex of the possessors. Factors to consider, perhaps.
posted by sugarbomb at 5:57 PM on July 11, 2011


Can't do Leo, because of "Leo Wanker" (don't know the provenance of this Australianism, but the two words just go together, especially in the schoolyard).

A lot of suggestions here are about naming the kid after a famous scientist or scifi author. Another approach is to go scouting around the natural world. We ended up with Jasper, which may be derived from one of the 3 wise men (not mentioned in the Bible, btw; names attributed long afterwards), but it's possible to ignore that because it's also a semi-precious stone.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:57 PM on July 11, 2011


that's associated with Lucifer

Ditto this and this. That's pretty sciency.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:00 PM on July 11, 2011


I have a quasi-unique name and I HATE IT. People misspell, mispronounce and misabuse it all the freaking time. It was so bad in high school that I actually considered legally changing my name.

Please, please, please give them a name that is not common but still easily pronounceable and spellable.


Mine's effectively unique in Anglophone society, and it's proven to be a very minor headache, but nevertheless still an annoyance. I ended up with one pronunciation my family uses, and one for the general public, because I couldn't be arsed correcting people anymore - at about age 10. Still, I far prefer it above being called Bruce like everybody else.

I'd personally rate pronounceability (from the spelling) above spellability (from the pronunciation), because you don't need to spell your name all that often for others.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:05 PM on July 11, 2011


Well there is nothing wrong with biblical names, or mythological, Hector is what I would name my boy.

That being said, my daughter, Klaatu, has nothing but trouble with her "unique" sounding name. My nephew Triniti ( I hope named after the tests at Los Alamos despite mnispellings) will grow to be embarrassed by not only the horrible spelling of his name but his parents general vapidity.

Of course I hope my other nephew, Heaven Lee, will fare better but I fear the worst.

Tread carefully the waters of naming your child "superman."
posted by Max Power at 6:08 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Helix
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:14 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know that Herschel would work as a first name (at least, it's a little too far out for me), but it's a rockin' middle name.

Julian was the last pagan emperor of Rome (from another thread). Not a scientist, but...

You could name him after Pierre-Simon Laplace who, when asked by Napoleon how he could have written a large book about the universe without mentioning its creator said "Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là" (I have no need of that hypothesis).

Osborne, after E (dward) O (sborne) Wilson? That will lead to the nickname Oz which is either wonderful or terrible.

I suppose it's going to depend if you want a name that says "Aha, you were named after a scientist" or if it's enough that you know that he was named after a scientist.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 6:15 PM on July 11, 2011


Watson? From Watson and Crick.
posted by amro at 6:16 PM on July 11, 2011


fwiw, "Theo" is Greek for "God." Hence atheist, theism, etc.

Isaac is also a biblical name, and it means "God laughed" (as in "No fucking way, you thought you were too old to have a baby.")

What about naming him after a famous explorer? Like Leif (as in Erickson)? Or Marco (Polo)?
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:17 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tessler?
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 6:19 PM on July 11, 2011


Watson? From Watson and Crick.

You should really read this link before you name your child after Jim Watson.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:21 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd personally rate pronounceability (from the spelling) above spellability (from the pronunciation), because you don't need to spell your name all that often for others.

I'm Cassy (not short for Cassandra, just Cassy), and it gets mispronounced AND misspelled all the time. I am frequently called "Casey" and "Cathy" and it has been spelled Cassey, Cassie, Casey, Kassy, Kasi, Kasie, Kassie, etc etc. I used to get mad about it but I'm 28 now and there is just no point in getting worked up anymore. I do like the spelling of my name, I just wish there were more of me out there so other people wouldn't be so confused by it.

Anyway, because of my name, I wanted nothing more when we had kids than to have a name that was not easily mispronounced or misspelled like mine apparently is. My husband's last name also gets misspelled/mispronounced pretty often (though not in as many ways as my first name) so he was on the same page as me. So when I got pregnant with a boy, we picked Julian. (After Julian Bashear, but we don't tell people that.) So far so good - we might get Julien I guess in the future, and one of my mom's idiot Facebook friends apparently thought he was a girl based on the name? But yeah, that's my suggestion.
posted by agress at 6:23 PM on July 11, 2011


You are overlooking the obvious. Name your kid Science. "What's up. The names Science Jones." "Did you say Simon?" "No Science!" Call him Sy for short. That would be badass.
posted by ND¢ at 6:33 PM on July 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


Orin.
posted by wowbobwow at 6:56 PM on July 11, 2011


Apollo.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 7:04 PM on July 11, 2011


Harder than it looks isn't it?
posted by Max Power at 7:12 PM on July 11, 2011


Edison nicknamed his kids Dot and Dash (for Morse code). What about Dash?
posted by sciencegeek at 7:23 PM on July 11, 2011


You could name him Dashiell and call him Dash.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 7:24 PM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


For unusual names with particular cultural associations, I like the site Behind the Name.

A few possibilities:
Franklin - for Ben Franklin and Rosalind Franklin
Ernest Rutherford - was from NZ
Euclid
Galen
Kelvin

If you want a scientific (empiricist) probably-atheist philosopher from back in the day, David Hume is your man.

For science terms:
Bolide - the term for a bright meteor
Nova - a star that flares brightly for a time

A lot of scientific terms are eg Greek mythological terms. Names of planets and planetary features for example - the Atlas mountains, the Iapetus ocean, etc. So checking in with Greek mythological names is not a bad place to start.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:24 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you liked Logan, maybe Louis, as in Pasteur? If you liked Rowan, maybe another botanical name, like Campion? Cadmus, "credited by the ancient Greeks with introducing the original alphabet."
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:50 PM on July 11, 2011


Feynman. Okay, it's not common place, but Richard Feynman's pretty awesome. And when he gets older, the chicks can say, "Damn, he's a FEYNman," and be completely correct!
posted by smirkette at 8:07 PM on July 11, 2011


I would name him AU and call him Goldy.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:58 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


-Galen
-Arthur is pre-Christian
-Erik is Norse, predating their conversion to Christianity.
-Gaius
-Trent (in anglophone usage) originally referred to the river in England, and does not have a religious meaning
-Franklin; for Ben, easily shortened
-Julian
-Abel or Tasman, after Abel Tasman, or Dampier, after William Dampier, both early European explorers of Australia
posted by spaltavian at 9:09 PM on July 11, 2011


Helix!
posted by meringue at 9:12 PM on July 11, 2011


I was all excited about "Helix" until I realized all the "HE LICKS" jokes that would soon follow...
posted by equipoise at 9:21 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bradley is Old English for "broad meadow"
posted by Nixy at 9:37 PM on July 11, 2011


that's associated with Lucifer

Are you saying that like it's a bad thing?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:07 PM on July 11, 2011


Dashiell/Dash is the name of the little kid in The Incredibles.

I know kids named:

Cosmo (If you can forget that was Kramer's first name on Seinfeld, anyway.)
Sage
Phoenix
Echo (I think he gets teased a bit, though.)
Escher
Calder (Actually, I know two of those)
posted by artychoke at 10:11 PM on July 11, 2011


I am fond of Bertrand Russell, myself, and of both "Bertie" and "Russ" as nicknames.

Sir Marcus 'Mark' Laurence Elwin Oliphant was agnostic, at least ("You asked me earlier if I believed in God and the hereafter. I would tend to say no but when one dies one could well be surprised"), and he was a pro-science "belligerent pacifist" physicist.

Darwin's problematic because of the city. But his first name was Charles (and don't forget there's always Charles Babbage and Charles Drew) - plus some suggested Carl, a related name, for Carl Sagan. Karl for Karl Popper.

Man, Australian scientists have terrible names. Especially the Nobelists.
Howard Walter Florey
William Henry Bragg and William Laurence Bragg
John Warcup Cornforth
Peter Charles Doherty (that one would be fine if not for that eponymous junkie boyfriend of Kate Moss)
John Carew Eccles
Frank McFarlane Burnet (not so bad by comparison)
Barry James Marshall (well, okay, although I always think of Barry as short for Barrett)
John Robin Warren

Basil Hetzel is a locally famous medico. Basil's a bit snooty but is both medical and botanical.

Amadeo Avogadro came up with the most famous number in chemistry and he has a LOT of names to choose from: Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo DeMarkus Avogadro di Quaregna e di Cerreto.
posted by gingerest at 10:19 PM on July 11, 2011


You can call him Al(bert Einstein).
posted by XhaustedProphet at 10:52 PM on July 11, 2011


Billy Bragg is a Pom. And is actually named Stephen.
posted by gingerest at 12:04 AM on July 12, 2011


Jayne. After the hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne.

(Jayne Cobb. Firefly.)
posted by phoebus at 12:36 AM on July 12, 2011


My step-son is named Darwin. His wife shortens it to Dar, but I prefer the full name.

I also like:
Orion
Julian
Edison
Sagan
Louis (my great-grandfather was a scientist too - a geologist!)
posted by deborah at 12:56 AM on July 12, 2011


Maxwell (Max for short).
A friend of a friend named his kid Linus (after Torvald, but you could also name him after Pauling).
Kelvin, mentioned earlier, would also work well.
Lowell (as in Percival Lowell, astronomer)
Langley (as in Samuel Pierpont Langley, who did some pioneering work in aviation and whose name is all over NASA)
Julian (Huxley), although Julian was also the name of a male saint and a female mystic.

Do make sure that the scientist after whom you name your son is someone you can respect...I couldn't, for instance, name a child Werner after Heisenberg or von Braun, because they both worked on weapons for Nazi Germany, despite their respective contributions to theoretical physics and aerospace science. And Carl Sagan has gone down in my estimation ever since I found out he left his first wife and son for another woman.
posted by tully_monster at 1:20 AM on July 12, 2011


And one more: Powell, after Maj. John Wesley Powell, a one-armed geologist who explored the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in a wooden boat. Badass.
posted by tully_monster at 1:26 AM on July 12, 2011


Hawking
Pi
Galileo formally, Leo for short
posted by mikepop at 5:45 AM on July 12, 2011


Pierre (Curie)?
posted by Omnomnom at 6:42 AM on July 12, 2011


Call him Reason.

When people try to make any sort of argument he disagrees with, he'll be able to say, "You should listen to Reason."

On a similar vein, he can be also called Logic, Evidence, or Fact.
posted by FJT at 7:12 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Arthur C. Clarke would be a great name sake (although Arthur does actually mean "follower of Thor" apparently)

How about "Clark(e)", then?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 AM on July 12, 2011


I've always been fond of the old recursive style of names, as in "(Martin Luther) King," "(George Washington) Carver" and "(Woodrow Wilson) Guthrie" and I sort of wish someone would revive it.

Along those lines, how about Marcus Aurelius Lastname? You get a moderately common, easy to spell first name plus a cool unusual middle name. Marcus Aurelius was the last of the "five good emperors" and a Stoic philosopher.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:31 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Two semi-opposed comments: first, as Bertie Wooster said to Jeeves, "There's some dirty work pulled at the font, isn't there?" (not that I'm assuming that a literal font would be involved, but you see what I mean); and, on the other hand, just go for it. If the kid doesn't like his first name he can always change it. As I did. Oddly in view of the comments about kids mocking other kids on account of a name, most of my grief came from adults.
posted by Logophiliac at 8:17 AM on July 12, 2011


I've always thought Ned was a fun name, but maybe it's more of an obvious reference in your neck of the woods.
posted by sweetmarie at 10:22 AM on July 12, 2011


>John Carew Eccles

In later life he wrote a number of books on the "mind body problem" in philosophy (how does the mind or soul interact with the physical brain and nervous system?) - if you're considering his name, you will want to check into his views here to see if they fit with your own.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:41 AM on July 12, 2011


Francis, as in Francis Crick?

As above for Watson, you might want to consider the whole man.

I also came to the conclusion that he was kind of a jerk from reading his autobiography, What Mad Pursuit.
posted by endless_forms at 10:52 AM on July 12, 2011


Zefram

after Zefram Cochrane developer of warp drive
posted by wrnealis at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was pregnant our husband and I had a conversation about what we'd name our child if virtue names like Charity and Chastity were still common, and came up with Reason, a name that I am still very attached to against all practical considerations. (We will ignore the fact that later we added to the name until it became Reason Dawkins Godisdead Lastname. And that we ultimately took a somewhat ironic path in naming our child Theo.)

If Darwin's not right, how about Charles? Darwin could even be the middle name, to make the link quite obvious.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:17 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of our triplets is Linus. I see it's been mentioned several times already. Hooray! If you ask my husband, he was named after Linus Torvalds. But really, I just liked the name.
posted by pyjammy at 1:15 PM on July 12, 2011


Call him Reason.

Please don't.

"Who's that puking in the flower garden?"
"Reason."
"Again?"
posted by philip-random at 1:38 PM on July 12, 2011


As above for Watson, you might want to consider the whole man.

Yikes. Yeah, nevermind about Francis. Also, I wonder how a child feels about being named after a great mind. Daunted? Like, does little Albert Smith worry about not stacking up and failing high school physics?
posted by sugarbomb at 7:16 PM on July 12, 2011


Also, I wonder how a child feels about being named after a great mind. Daunted? Like, does little Albert Smith worry about not stacking up and failing high school physics?

I wondered about this too. What if he is terrible at science or just really loves, like, writing or acting or something? At least by naming him after Leonardo da Vinci for example, it covers your requirement of science, but it's also good if he ends up being into art, or engineering, or whatever. I think that would be a good goal: name him after someone who is broadly smart because they are curious and inquisitive about all things in life. Plus, it's a normal enough name that people wouldn't immediately think "Science!!" upon hearing it (like Tesla or something.)

Of course, I can't hear the name Leonardo without thinking of "DiCaprio." but your kid's peers almosy certainly won't be making this same connection, I mean he's definitely not as famous now as he was in the 90's right?
posted by GastrocNemesis at 8:14 PM on July 12, 2011


I've always been partial to the name Thomas. It doesn't quite fit the "totally nonreligious" category, but I think the history of the name might make up for that. You've got the prototypical "Doubting Thomas' who refused to believe that Jesus had been resurrected until he saw proof with his own eyes. You have Thomas Jefferson, famous for coining the phrase "Separation of Church and State." And you have Thomas Paine, who wrote the Age of Reason.
posted by JDHarper at 8:17 PM on July 12, 2011


At least by naming him after Leonardo da Vinci for example, it covers your requirement of science, but it's also good if he ends up being into art, or engineering, or whatever.

In that case, you couldn't go wrong with Thomas Jefferson [Lastname], either.
posted by tully_monster at 8:18 PM on July 12, 2011


I have an unusual first name (Alia) and I absolutely love it. People remember me more easily because of it. If I hear my name called out, I know I'm the intended target. Yes, I have to correct spelling/pronunciation sometimes, but I don't consider it that big of a deal, and my more commonly named sister changed her name because she thought it was too common and she was tired of her mail getting mixed up with others. That being said, if the name you like is very unusual and you are worried about it being a problem, give the unusual name as a middle name and call your child by the middle name. That way, teachers giving role call won't stumble over it, and he can use his 'normal' name if he dislikes his unique one.

Any one of these names could work:
Alfred Russel Wallace

Gregor Johann Mendel

You could also name him the masculine version of a famous female scientist:
Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet - Gabriel, Emil.

Jane Morris Goodall - John/Johann, Morris

Rosalin Franklin - Franklin

You could also try looking up some trait that you want to see in your child and picking out a name based on that. For example, if wisdom is important, pick a name that means wise.

There are a lot of beautifully named stars, although many of them are Arabic, which may or may not work for you.

Personally, I dislike religious names, but I'd still consider Johann for my son because I highly regard both Mendel and Goodall, and know a great little monkey named Johann. Staying firm on your commitment to non-religious names might help you trim down the list, but you might also miss out on some great names simply because they've been so common for much of Western history.
posted by avagoyle at 9:08 PM on July 12, 2011


Chiming in as someone with a difficult-to-spell, mildly unusual name (Phoebe) to say that I love it, and other than some angst when I was in preschool and wanted to be called Jessica, I wouldn't change my name for the world. And people have as much trouble spelling my Anglo-Saxon very simple place surname ("North") as they do the first. It's a fairly universal problem.

Otherwise, agreeing that you should name him Nikola.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:09 PM on July 13, 2011


I know a Pliny and a Galen and I think they're great (the people and the names).
posted by Pax at 6:27 AM on July 15, 2011


I also know a Hawk (his is Hawkins, but you could be thinking of Hawking).
posted by Pax at 6:33 AM on July 15, 2011


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