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Carl Linnaeus (Carl von Linné)

Tilia cordata -  
The Small Leafed LindenWhat's in a Name?

  • Carl Linnaeus
  • Carolus Linnaeus
  • Carl von Linné
  • Carolus von Linnaeus

The surname Linnaeus was the creation of Nils Ingemarsson, the father of Carl Linnaeus. When attending the University of Lund, Nils Ingemarsson latinized the name of his family's ancestral lands, Linnegard, and adopted it as his surname. This was not only important for the purposes of registration at the university, but was also an important statement of educational status. It is an interesting fact that the name Linnegard was derived from an ancient small-leaved linden tree (Tilia cordata), which grew on the family property at the time.

Linnaeus's first name was in honour of the King of Sweden at the time of his birth, Charles the XII.

When publishing scientific papers Linnaeus latinized his first name, to match his already Latin last name, making his name 'Carolus Linnaeus'. It was the custom in the day to publish all scientific papers in Latin. This made scholarly communication between nations more effective and, along with the printing press, helped to inspire the age of enlightenment.

In 1757, at the age of 50, Linnaeus was ennobled by King Adolf Fredrik, at which time his name became Carl von Linné. On rare occasions the latinized version of this name, Carolus von Linnaeus, may be seen attached to some documents.


Selected by the SciLinks program, a service of
the National Science Teachers Association.
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