We have fermions (named after Fermi) and bosons (named after Bose). Why don't we name the particle corresponding to the Higgs field a "higgson"? The superpartner particle (sparticle) of the Higgs boson is the higgsino, which makes the name "higgson" more reasonable (the sparticle of the photon is the photino).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related, but not a duplicate of hsm.stackexchange.com/questions/6/… $\endgroup$
    – user22
    Oct 29, 2014 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ It's worth pointing out that Higgs boson -> Higgsino follows the same convention of the SU(2) gauge bosons, (e.g. W boson -> Wino), though we more commonly talk about the mass eigenstates, termed charginos and neutralinos. So the analogy with the photon isn't entirely justified. $\endgroup$
    – Logan M
    Oct 29, 2014 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ higgson sounds as a surname $\endgroup$
    – Anixx
    Apr 28, 2015 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ worth noting that a Majoron is a thing $\endgroup$
    – Rho Phi
    Sep 10, 2020 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if the premise of the question is right; elementary particles are generally not named after people, neither are many composite particles, and if they are named after people, they often (although not exclusively) follow the "Name type" format (Majorana fermion, Dirac fermion, Bogoliubov quasiparticle). So it doesn't seem to me that there is a strict convention that needs to be followed here, and it's perhaps more a question what name sounds better to people and the preference of whoever used a term first? $\endgroup$ Feb 3 at 13:20

3 Answers 3


There are a number of reasons:

  1. The thing that differentiates fermions and bosons from the Higgs boson specifically is that they are general classes of particles (based on spin), while the Higgs boson is a specific particle (or particle type, if you will).
  2. The names "fermions" and "bosons" were coined by Paul Dirac, who was no longer in prominence when the idea behind the Higgs field was proposed. In general, particles aren't named after people (the Higgs boson is an exception).
  3. Just ask Benjamin Lee (unfortunately deceased) who first used the term.
  4. The idea behind the higgsino, supersymmetry, didn't come around until the early 1970s, and didn't rise to prominence until much later; by then, the term "Higgs boson" was well established, and "higgson" wouldn't have been catchy enough.
  • $\begingroup$ 2. We have Dirac fermion and Majorana fermion. I know that once the habit has started, it's hard to change. But why didn't the first people who named it (like Benjamin Lee) use higgson? $\endgroup$
    – Ooker
    Oct 29, 2014 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ Dirac was no longer in prominence? I thought by dint of having his electron equation, he was always in prominence. $\endgroup$ Oct 29, 2014 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ @ManjilP.Saikia Sure, he was famous, but he was no longer participating in research at the level he was at his prime. Others were making headlines. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Oct 29, 2014 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ Shorter makes it better. The "higgs" is irresistible, so much so that it eclipsed Englert and Brout, the earliest introducers of the Higgs doublet field. Several Gell-Mann acolytes further use "goldston" for "Goldstone boson", the latter being an alarming coupling of two names serving different grammatical functions, which M-GM detested. $\endgroup$ Jan 24 at 16:04

Murray Gell-Mann proposed the term “higgson” as synonym for “Higgs boson” in his 1994 (A39) book The Quark and the Jaguar (pgs. 193-97).


Gordon Fraser and I proposed the name "higgson" in the July 2012 issue of "Physics World," just as the boson was being discovered. We were not aware of Gell-Mann's prior advocacy of the word, but it figures. Murray definitely had "the naming gift". The Eightfold Way, quarks, quantum chromodynamics, etc.

— Michael Riordan, author, "The Hunting of the Quark."


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