Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, from

One of my heroes is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who was a civil engineer from Victorian England. The Great Western Railway (Britain’s first railway line)? That was him. Box Tunnel? Also him. SS Great Britain? Him again. The Thames Tunnel? His father, Isambard Brunel – you can see what I’m getting at. Brunel was Mr. Innovation and is still highly rated amongst those i our modern day society who have heard of him. When BBC conducted a poll of the 100 Greatest Britons which was mainly based on public opinion, Brunel came second only to Sir Winston Churchill. Infact, here’s the Top 10 for you to look through (with the ranking of their names in 2010 afterwards):

  1. Sir Winston Churchill (#996 with 28 births)
  2. Isambard Kingdom Brunel (#4678 with 3 births)
  3. Diana Spencer (#387 with 116 births)
  4. Charles Darwin (#62 with 1152 births)
  5. William Shakespeare (#7 with 5256 births)
  6. Sir Isaac Newton (#37 with 2115 births)
  7. Queen Elizabeth I of England (#49 with 1356 births)
  8. John Lennon (#94 with 690 births)
  9. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson (#2036 with 10 births)
  10. Oliver Cromwell (#1 with 8427)

But now, to the point of the post. Whilst I greatly admire Brunel, the name Isambard is not an easy one to bear, nor indeed is Kingdom, which was his mother’s maiden name and thus his middle name. Thus I have drawn up a list of 4 male and 3 female names which one could potentially use to honour Brunel, with their 2010 ranking in brackets after:

1. Samuel (#14 with 4144 births)

Quite simply inspired from looking at the name Isambard, which could easily shorten to the nickname Sam. The name itself comes from a Hebrew name which either means name of God or God has heard. In the Old Testament, Samuel was one of the last ruling judges who anointed Saul as the first King of Israel.

2. Bruno (#660 with 48 births)

A slight alteration of Brunel’s surname, which comes from the Germanic word for brown: brun. Easily one of the best names if you’re a jet-setter since he is used by many cultures in Europe.

3. Kingston (#1620 with 14 births)

Kingdom may be a little hard to live with so why not consider the slightly different Kingston? Gwen Stefani’s eldest son bears and shares the name with the capital of Jamaica and two towns in England: Kingston upon Hull – known simply as Hull and Kingston upon Thames; the name itself means King’s town. There’s also Kingsley, which was worn by a character in Harry Potter.

4. Dominic (#127 with 497 births)

Inspired by the end of Kingdom, the name Dominic comes from the Latin name Dominicus, which means of the Lord. Therefore tradition dictates the name is given to a child born on Sunday.

1. Isabeau (no rank)

Isabeau starts the same as Isambard, plus they both contain a notable b sound. To be fair, Isabel is any of her forms is equally applicable here, but we’re going with this medieval variant of the classic name Elizabeth.

2. Nell (#390 with 115 births)

Inspired by the last syllable of Brunel’s surname, the name Nell belongs to the Eleanor family of names (Helen, Ellen etc.) where she is still often used as a short form for. Here’s how a selection of the names fared in England&Wales in 2010:

  Eleanor Ellen Elena
Rank 61 216 192
Births 995 235 264
  Nelly Helena Helen
Rank 747 333 623
Births 49 141 61

3. Amber (#52 with 1290 births)

Amber more or less appears as it is in Brunel’s first name, Isambard. It’s the name of an orange-y gemstone that originates as tree resin, which then fossilises. The word itself comes from the Arabic word anbar.

Categories: Boy Names, Girl Names | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Isambard Kingdom Brunel

  1. namemuststay

    I love that list of great Brits. And there’s something that sticks with you when you hear a name like Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Forgive my ignorance, but he isn’t known over here, unlike the others. Is it pronounced ih-sam-bard, eye-sam-bard?


  2. I also revere Brunel, and although you’ve come up with some great names to honour him, I think Isambard Kingdom Brunel is too amazing to mess with!

    You could always go Sam or Bard for nicknames, and Brunelle for a girl (female form of the Bruno names). Or just add Isambard Kingdom to whatever name you’ve already picked.


  3. Isembard Kingdom Brunel is revered in Nookland too. Thank the Universe he beat Diana in the list of great Brits; I hang my head in shame that so many rated her above Darwin, Shakespeare and Newton!


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