Telamon was the son of Aeacus, king of Aegina, and Endeïs. He was the brother of Peleus and he married Hesione. His name can be interpreted in two ways: either as 'bearer', 'endurer', from tolas, 'enduring' or tlao, 'to bear' (compare Talos and Talthybius) or, more readily, 'supporting strap', from telamon.

Before marrying Hesione (who bore him Teucer), Telamon had married Periboea, daughter of Alcathoüs, and she had borne him Ajax. Ajax was famous for the great shield that he carried, and this could be the reference to the 'carrying strap'.

Thomas Keightley, however, who likes lining up family names on a common theme, sees a possibility for an origin in helos, 'marsh', so that Telamon, his brother Peleus, his wife Hesione, and his father Aeacus, all have 'watery' names.