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An Irish-Canadian poet told me that my last name, Stimpson, comes from glimpse. What is the actual etymology of the proper name and the common noun? Are they related? When did they first appear in the English language?

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Did you ask the poet what (according to him) is the language of origin?

I would agree with @St.John about his find in the surname dbs, namely that this is a patronymic based on Stephen.

Also, have a look at this NGram: A chart comparing the frequency of Stimpson, Stephen, Stefanus, and Steven in the time period 1500-2000. The line for Stephen (multiple peaks and valleys between 1560-1660, then fairly constant all the way to 2000) overshadows all the other lines, to the point that the only other line that is visible at all is the one for Steven (some blips between 1640-1680, then a gradual increase from 1960-2000). The line for Stimpson isn't visible at all.

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    Google's Ngrams are case sensitive so it doesn't make sense in this case to mix ALL CAPS with Capital Initials and all lowercase. Be consistent. – Hugo Mar 21 '13 at 21:34
  • Updated with new Ngram. – camelbrush Mar 22 '13 at 0:03

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