The Meaning of Elon Musk's Name
5 Nov 2022

Elon Musk has been dominating global headlines in recent weeks due to his hostile takeover of Twitter. The takeover took a little over six months to transpire.

Proponents of the takeover posit that under Musk’s leadership Twitter will become a champion of free speech; while critics claim it will become a haven for hate speech, misinformation and lead to fascism.

Musk is believed to be planning on firing between 50 and 75 percent of Twitter’s workforce, against a backdrop of dramatic declines in tech-sector stock prices and lay-offs.

The meaning of Elon Musk’s name is: oak tree bailiff, descendant of the non-alcoholic wine brewer.

According to research of Elon Musk’s ancestry on WikiTree (which Forebears has not confirmed), Musk’s surname comes from a child born out of wedlock in Exning, Suffolk in 1863. Thus Musk’s paternal line is another unknown surname. The Musk family is traced back to Suffolk. It is not clear what the specific origin of the Musk’s surname is. This is sometimes the case, particularly with surnames derived from nicknames or obscure terms. However, very close to where Elon’s ancestors lived we find evidence of names like, John Muske or Must. In this case it seems a Must family may have decided to change their surname owing to its connection with a trade some may view as unflattering. Must referred to unfermented wine. That is to say, non-alcoholic. It tastes similar to wine (rather than grape juice), but has very little to no alcoholic content. However, there is a reference in the late 14th century John Trevisa's Translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum, which suggests it could also have referred to an alcoholic drink [translated into modern English]:

the strength of hot must is so strong that it breaks very strong vessels

The early occurrences of the Must surname do not give any indication whether the surname may have been borne from an occupation or a nickname, i.e. someone who was known for drinking must. Forebears believes the former is much more likely, as it better fits the customs of English surnames.

As with many Southern English surnames Must arose in the later medieval period. This period was known as the Medieval Warm Period. England was notably warmer during the period around 1100 to 1300, and this period saw a resurgence of growing grapes and wine making in Southern England. This production cratered along with the temperature in around 1300, when England descended into the Little Ice Age. The Must surname likely arose at this time.

However if the family did not originate from the Most family, the surname refers to musk, an aromatic substance derived from animals or plants used in perfumes. This surname will again likely have arisen in the later medieval period, probably connected with trade with the east.

Elon’s middle name Reeve is derived from his maternal great-grandmother Edith Reeve Angel, who is in turn a granddaughter of Elizabeth Reeve, of Totnes, Devon, England. A reeve was a form of medieval bailiff, who managed feudal lands, and as such was not usually a popular individual.

The name Elon is of Hebrew origin and found in The Bible, as a city of the Tribe of Dan and as the name of three separate personages. It means ‘oak tree’. The name comes from the name of Elon’s great-grandfather John Elon Haldeman, whose family are said to hail from Signau, Switzerland.