What is the meaning of the -son ending in Brazilian names? I tried searching for the meaning, but I had no luck.

Judging from statistics I found (first names by frequency), -son names are relative rare.
In contrast, almost every other Brazilian artist I know on Ebay is a -son: Edson, Edilson, Ederson, Weverson, Jeferson, Niellison, Lailson, Medson, Deilson, Alison(?)...
Or a -ton: Nilton, Jailton, Wellington, Wilton..., probably shooting down the idea that it means the same as the Scandinavian -son.

Is it a diminutive?
Is it in honor of Pele (=Edson)?
Is it region specific? (I wouldn't wonder if all the artists managed via one Ebay account live in proximity.)
Or is this for newcomers in art? (Those are always introduced on first-name base - any guy with two names has "made it".)

  • What do you mean by "artist on Ebay", records you find for sale there? Could you give us a link?
    – stafusa
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 16:24
  • 1
    Names in Brazil are often given following tradition or, probably more often, taste - based mostly or how they sound. These -son, -ton names tend to be less popular nowadays, but they used to be more common towards the end of last century (you can check this at this page: censo2010.ibge.gov.br/nomes/#/search), which is probably when most artists now famous were born.
    – stafusa
    Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 16:34
  • @stafusa: Just for the record, e.g. Ed Benes Studio (ebay.com/b/Ed-Benes-Studio/972/bn_55188872) manages a ton of -son artists. Brasil is large, though, and I know four or five other agents on Ebay :-) Oh, and THX for the stats link. I still recall Emerson (Fittipaldi), but today Ayrton (Senna) is more known. Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 10:34
  • Isso tudo é imitação do inglês. Nada mais. Eles pegam uma coisa e colocam son no final. Conhecia um que se chamava: Clayston. Sempre me pareceu engraçadíssimo. Clay with a t on the end, then, son> so funny sounding in English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 19:09

2 Answers 2


Having no data to back me up, I would say the first given names ending in -son were imported during the nineteenth century from English speaking countries and, indirectly, from Sweden (where -son used to mean "son of"). Nelson, Edson and Jefferson are certainly some of them.

Since then, as one might expect, several names ending in -son have been coined right here in Brazil. This includes names such as Vanderson, Weverson, Denilson, Edemilson, Jailson, Arilson, Arielson, etc. New names are coined almost on a daily basis and, therefore, there is a long list of names such as these. However, the suffix -son, in Brazil, means nothing at all.

Unlike the Portuguese, who rarely import given names, but change them according to their language (Margareth becomes Margarida, Charles becomes Carlos) Brazilians often import them as they are and even coin new ones according to their taste. The habit of creating a new name for their children is not region related, but it seems to be more common among the masses, some celebrities and football players.

For further reading, Nomes masculinos X-son na antroponímia brasileira: uma abordagem morfológica, histórica e construcional

  • As construções de -son no Português Brasileiro: oaji.net/articles/2019/3404-1557865323.pdf
    – sumitani
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 22:33
  • @sumitani Good Call. I'll add the reference.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 22:58
  • Many of the names do not square with English names. They are very inventive and stick son all over the place. Some of them may be importations, many are not. Sometime the names are beautiful and sometimes they are horrible sounding.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 19:10
  • @Lambie That's exactly what I have written.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 19:11
  • No, it isn't. What you don't say is that many of the creations are by people who can hardly read and write and therefore at times quite odd. You did not mention their aesthetic aspect either. The other day I had a couple that had been feminized, as well. Unfortunately, I didn't make note of them.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 19:14

Many of these names are inventions. I disagree with people saying that is a recent trend, to make up this names to sound more chic or American. For instance, my friend’s Brazilian grandfather was “Adílson”. He was born in 1931. I don’t really think his parents were influenced by American soap operas. Names back in the day used to be coined, especially by rural people. Sometimes existing names were fused together to create new ones, or a suffix was added to another name. Brazilian onomastics is very rich in suffixes: -son, and -ton are just among the many. Despite being foreign, they are not difficult to pronounce in Portuguese. Others are -ildo, -valdo, -van, -val, -nei, for males and for females, -lene, -neide, -ele. So you find names like Lucivaldo, Evanildo, Edilene, and you recognize that the person is Brazilian. Those names don’t sound foreign or English at all but you won’t find them in Portugal or other Latin American countries. In many other Latin American countries, you find more misspelled Anglo names but no made-up names. Caribbeans are, however, even more creative than Brazilians. Here users (presumably mostly from the higher classes) are saying that non Portuguese names are found only among the lower classes, some certainly are but I can assure you that even among the middle to upper class you will find many names not allowed in Portugal. Some are so commonplace that are not even perceived as foreign. Emerson Fittipaldi’s family was not poor, if I remember correctly. Nor is Alisson Becker’s. However, it seems more a thing of the past. Those who are born after 2000s tend to have more normal names. Perhaps because many of the names had no actual meaning, law is a little more restrictive than it used to be. Also, fertility rates are declining in Brasil: when you have less children. you are less likely to name them something unique

  • The main conclusion of this answer is supported by the article linked in Centaurus's answer, in that article see "4.2 Novas formações X-son da antroponímia brasileira".
    – bad_coder
    Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 15:27
  • Yes, I find that the article treats the topic particularly in depth. We see that many of that names were coined prior to the 1950s and seem to have peaked in the 1980s. Now they are declining.
    – Wanderer
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 6:45
  • nytimes.com/2014/02/02/world/americas/… This other article explains it. It does not mention specifically the -son trend, but it quotes some examples of exceptionally weird names found across the country. Some people are calling for a stricter law that allows to change names that are embarrassing. However, I don’t agree with the conclusion because it makes it seem that almost no one but the elites choose traditional names, when in fact traditional names are still the bulk of the population and that it’s not expected to change in future
    – Wanderer
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 6:54

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