A friend recently asked me the meaning of the name Madison. Although I wasn’t sure of the meaning of Madison, it prompted a discussion about the suffix ‑son, seen in a lot of names: Jefferson, Henderson, Johnson, Harrison, etc.

I suspect it comes from English, as these names seem to be English in origin, but other than that I could find no information pertaining to the suffix.

tl;dr: What is the origin and definition of the suffix ‑son?

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, terdon, Andrew Leach, tchrist, James McLeod Sep 2 '13 at 20:21

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    Hi and welcome to ELU. Please try searching for an answer before posting here. If you don't find a satisfactory answer, mention what you found in your question and why it was not enough. – terdon Sep 2 '13 at 16:20
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    Surely this is General Reference. My surname is Harrison - as it happens, my father's forename is Harry, but that's just coincidence. Somewhere back in history was the original Harry whose child adopted the disamguating name Harry's son = Harrison. So far as Madison is concerned, it's a variant of Mathieson meaning son of Matthew. Again, GR. – FumbleFingers Sep 2 '13 at 16:20
  • @FumbleFingers Tell me you are actually Harry Harrison, Harry's son :). Your father is not by any chance the recently deceased and much lamented author, Harry Harrison? My condolences and profound respect if so. – terdon Sep 2 '13 at 16:21
  • @terdon: Sadly, no can do. He does actually have a grandson called Harry (a nephew, not mine), but I think it's a real hassle having to disambiguate them as "Big Harry" and "Little Harry". Besides, the youngster is now physically bigger, and getting tired of the handle (16 years ago, nobody expect the now-94-year-old to be still around long enough for a problem to arise! :). I don't really understand why three generations of Loudon Wainwrights would have wanted to perpetuate this kind of "ancestor-worship". – FumbleFingers Sep 2 '13 at 16:30

It means son. Many languages use an equivalent ending: Mendelssohn, Jespersen. Icelandic still has individualized surnames and you can find Jónsson along with a sister, Jónsdóttir.

Madison - Either means "son of Maud" or "son of Matthew," depending on your source. I was unable to find a source I would claim reliable enough to settle it, and perhaps none exists. It is very likely that there are multiple sources.

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    I don't think that Maud is likely to be right. It's very unusual for the female parent's name to be used in this way. – FumbleFingers Sep 2 '13 at 16:22
  • Unusual, yes; but not unheard of. Icelandic footballer Heiðar Helguson, for example, is named after his mother (Helga), rather than his father. @Rubric: Just to be really pernickety, you’d more accurately find Jónsson and Jónsdóttir in Icelandic. :-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 2 '13 at 16:39
  • (That’s not to say that Madison is from Maud. It might be in some cases, but most Madisons are likely from Matthew’s son, Mathi(e)son, as mentioned in @FumbleFingers’ comment to the question itself above) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 2 '13 at 16:41
  • Apparently, "George" was rarely used in England until the German-born George I came to the British throne in the 18th century,, which presumably explains why there aren't many Georgesons today. There are plenty of people with surnames based on most boy's names popular in medieval times, but I don't know of anyone at all with a surname based on the popular girl's names in that link. – FumbleFingers Sep 2 '13 at 16:52
  • There is the surname "Alison." – James McLeod Sep 2 '13 at 20:25

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