There is a surprisingly common misconception out there that Nylon is a portmanteau of New York and London, the two cities in which it was supposedly invented. However, that is quite incorrect. Firstly, it was created in a DuPont laboratory in Delaware, and, secondly, it's not really a portmanteau. Nylon was originally called No-Run, because the material wasn't supposed to unravel easily, but DuPont wanted to legally avoid making such an unjustified claim. So the guy who discovered it, Wallace Carothers, kept making small changes to the name until the company approved it. Nuron was suggested, but that was too close to a nerve tonic, so Carothers floated nilon, but that could be pronounced two ways, so he suggested nylon, and the company approved that. Sadly, Carothers committed suicide in that last waiting period, so he never got to see his product officially named. The suffix -on was modeled after cotton and rayon.
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd