Claim: Nylon was named for a conflation of ‘New York’ and ‘London.’
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1992]
My chemistry teacher told me that Nylon is named after
Neither group would have discovered nylon in isolation as the lab temps would be wrong for the part of the process.
Origins: Nylon (polyhexamethyleneadipamide) was invented in 1935 by an organic chemist under contract to
success. He discovered when liquid polymers were blown through ultrathin nozzles they quickly solidified in resilient fibers thinner than human hair.
Inventing it was only half the problem; what to call it was the other half. Carothers referred to his brainchild as
Carothers patented his discovery in 1937. Shortly afterwards, chronic depression led him to take his own life by drinking cyanide.
An odd bit of lore asserts that the name came from the conflation of
Equally spurious is the claim the fibre was named for an acronym formed from “Now You’ve Lost, Old Nippon,” supposedly a thumbing of the nose at Japan over the presumed loss of a market for their silk due to its replacement by synthetic fibres.
Nylon stockings were originally touted at “strong as steel and delicate as a spider’s web.” Compared to traditional silk stockings, they were certainly all that. Ah, but familiarity breeds contempt: in no time at all women were treating them with a careless disregard they would never have presumed to adopt with their silk leggings, and newfangled nylons quickly proved no match for ordinary wear and tear.
These days, nylon is used in a number of products, including tents, ropes, and outerwear. It is telling, however, that we still refer to ladies’ stockings as nylons.
Barbara “laddered hose” Mikkelson
Last updated: 31 May 2011
Krier, Ann. “Nylon Creator Took Own Life After Filing Patent in 1937.” Los Angeles Times. 27 October 1988 (p. E6). Richards, Hugh. “Bright Spark: Tragic Tale of Pioneering Fibre Provider.” The Guardian. 18 October 1993 (p. E12). Ryan, Patty. “Sheer Madness.” The Tampa Tribune. 17 October 1999 (Baylife; p. 1). Viets, Elaine. “Hoisery History: From Silk to Pantyhose.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 6 May 1993 (Everyday Magazine; p. G3).