How nylon got its name

Carothers called his superpolyamide “fibre 66”. The Du Pont management did not think this name had enough advertising appeal, so a naming committee was appointed that came up with almost 400 different suggestions. “Duparooh”, which was proposed by Ernest Knight Gladding (1888-1958), the head of the Du Pont rayon department, did not convince a majority of the decision-makers. The acronym was considered to be nothing more than a joke, because it stood for “DuPont Pulls A Rabbit Out Of The Hat”. “Wacara” in honour of Wallace Carothers or “Delawear”, a combination of “wear” and Delaware, the US state in which DuPont produced the polyamide fibre, found too few advocates as well. “Dusilk”, “Rayamide” and “Silkex” were also rejected. Gladding then proposed “Norun”. That sounded good and suggested that the material did not ladder (“no run”), but this name was rejected again because it was not true. Without further ado, “Norun” was changed to “Nuron”, because “nu” sounds like “new”. There was, however, a danger that it would be confused with a nerve tonic (“Neuron”). Gladding replaced the “r” by an “l” and the “u” first by an “i” and than by a “y” – and the word “nylon” was coined. A composition designed to sound good that did not really mean anything, even though claims were subsequently made about meanings on which the word was allegedly based. One of these interpretations is that “nylon” came from “New York” and “London”, because two chemists thought up the word on an intercontinental flight from one of the cities to the other. An alternative which is claimed is that DuPont chose the name “nylon” with the aim of provoking Japanese industry, which would be able to export less silk as a result of the new artificial fibre – this story says that “nylon” stands for “Now You’ve Lost, Old Nippon” ...