Dear Jim,
The suffix added last in the progressive formation (prakriyā) of the name 'Pāṇini' is in fact the taddhita suffix iÑ (AA 4.1.95 aTa iÑ), so there is no reason to take the word as a neuter noun.
Another example would be dáaśa-rath-i in the sense of ‘descendant of dáśa-ratha-’, one of the epithets of Rāma. 
From the point of view of *later* Brahminical culture, Pāṇini's name could suggests some uneasiness with his lineage. 
If we analyse further to find the underlying root in Pāṇini's name we may find it in
√paṇ : DhP 466 páṇA vyavahāre stutau ca (| 467 pánA ca ; [Mādhavīya-DhV : pṛthagnirdeśāt stutāv ity anenaivāyaṁ sambadhyate > pánA stutau]).
Next, one of the numerous primary suffixes -a is added: 
páṇ-a- (m.) √paṇ + some primary suffix -a. 
Which of the several primary suffixes -a/-á suffixes in Pāṇini? 
An (unaccented)-a suffix seems in any case more likely than an –á suffix, if we assume it is an action noun : ‘barter, trade’ (together with prapaṇa (AVŚ prapaṇá), apparently used in this sense in AVP 19.49 etc.
Only then we get páṇ-a- + inI (in the sense of matUP, AA 5.2.94 etc. ). 
The milieu of Pāṇini's family would seem to be commercial, which perhaps in his time was not in conflict or contradiction with the local, north-western Brahminical culture. 
The detailed interest shown in the AA for calculation and commercial items and conditions including taxes among the 'easterners', further confirm Pāṇini's link with trading communities. 
The fact that we find a clear derivation of his name only somewhat tucked away in, as far as grammatical sources are concerned, KaiyaTa's commentary and the ones given in Prakriyaa-kaumudii commentaries cited by Victor further illustrates the somewhat uneasiness (for later Brahmins) with the cultural implications of a straightforward derivation of Pāṇini's name. 
All best, 
Jan Houben

On Sun, 12 Sept 2021 at 20:01, Jim Ryan via INDOLOGY <> wrote:

I'm curious if there are any creative etymologies or mythological explanations for the name “Pāṇini.” I don’t recall encountering any over the years. The word itself seems to be neuter in gender (if we assume an “in” suffix) and therefore somewhat unusual in designating a person.

Jim Ryan
Asian Philosophies and Cultures (Emeritus)
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

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Jan E.M. Houben

Directeur d'Études, Professor of South Asian History and Philology

Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite

École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE, Paris Sciences et Lettres)

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Groupe de recherches en études indiennes (EA 2120)

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