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I was looking at a list of particles, and I noticed that many of them ended in -on. Proton, electron, neutron, lepton, etc. Is there a historical (or linguistic) reason behind this naming structure?

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This is a question about etymology. It all started with the genuine Greek words anion “going up” and kation “going down”, both neuter participles of the verb “to go” with different preverbs: an(a)- and kat(a)-. Then we got “ion” on its own as a term encompassing both, and then, by analogy, “proton”, “electron”, “neutron”, and ultimately also “positron” (based on a spurious reanalysis of electr-on as elect-ron, and creation of a pseudo-suffix “ron”.)

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    $\begingroup$ I think the essence of this answer is the following. Particles were named after Greek words, and this was done in a gender-neutral fashion, rendering -on the only possible suffix. $\endgroup$ – Danu Dec 13 '14 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ Not all neuter nouns/adjectives in Greek end in -on. $\endgroup$ – fdb Dec 13 '14 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ ...but it's the canonical example, IIRC from Greek in school (it was a while ago...) $\endgroup$ – Danu Dec 13 '14 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ I think the pseudo-suffix should be "tron" $\endgroup$ – Ooker Jan 10 '15 at 16:47

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