Spotlight on: Casimir

Kazimierz_Pulaski

Kazimierz Pulaski

Casimir seems ideal for a celebrity baby, perhaps the son of an experimental musician like Beck whose real son is named Cosimo.

Like Cosimo, Casimir is quirky, yet smart. Casimir has Slavic origins and roots in Poland, where Casimir is the name of four kings and a saint. The name derives from the polish Kazimierz. Common meanings attributed by baby name books and websites are “proclaimer of peace” or “announcing peace” or “the one who reveals or establishes peace”.

But the complete meaning may be less altruistic. The “kazic” element means “to destroy”. Most modern name sources like to focus on the “mir” element which means “peace”. This is why I don’t like to get too hung up on name meanings. They tend to get distorted over centuries, and I would hate to dismiss a great name due to a questionable meaning.

The pronunciation is KAZ-i-meer.

The name is almost obscure in the U.S. today. Last year, there were 23 newborn boys named Casimir in the U.S. The name peaked in the U.S. in pre-World War II days. Casimir appeared in the U.S. top 1000 from 1895 to 1938. But it never became extremely popular. Its highest rank ever was #393 in 1917.

In real numbers, a #393 ranking in 1917 represented 0.0214% of births or 205 newborn boys. The current day equivalent (a name given to about 0.0214% of boys in 2012) would rank in the bottom 500s which would represent about 430 newborn boys.

I suspect Casimir’s peak in the U.S. from 1917-19 correlates with the peak in polish immigrants to the U.S., which was around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I cannot prove this link since the exact immigration numbers for Polish Americans are unknown.

One early Polish settler to the U.S. was Kazimierz Pułaski, who was a military commander in the Revolutionary War and was considered a national hero. Kazimierz is a form of Casimir and he was also known as Casimir Pulaski.

Last year, popular name blog Appellation Mountain featured Casimir. Appellation Mountain creator, Abby Sandel, gives a great synopsis of the name’s history. What I found fascinating from the Appellation Mountain post was the fact that Casimir had been somewhat popular in France, where it peaked in the 1930s. And then in the 1970s, the name became synonymous with an orange dinosaur from a popular kids’ TV show, which probably led to its demise in France.

Casimir might appeal to parents who like the exotic Leopold, a name that shares the three-syllable, stress on the first syllable rhythm and history among European royalty and saints.

But while Leopold is grounded by the mainstream “Leo”, Casimir sounds like nothing that’s trendy today. This might make Casimir too bold for even those parents daring enough to consider Leopold.

The feminine form, Casimira, may be the more promising name among modern parents. Just like Leopold is grounded with stylish “Leo”, Casimira is grounded with stylish “Mira” which could be becoming more mainstream. Mira has risen steadily on girls in the last couple of years, reaching #665 in 2012.

Perhaps Leopold and Casimira, called Leo and Mira would make a great brother-sister set.

But for those who want something dynamic, dashing, and artsy with cultural substance, I wholly endorse Casimir. For those who like nicknames, Mir (pronounced Meer) is really slick and focuses on the “peace” part of the name’s meaning.

Readers: Which name do you prefer? Casimir or Casimira?

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Angela. How ’bout Casimir, nn Cash? It’s a little bit of a stretch, but not ridiculous.

    And Leopold and Casimir together would be fabulous!

  2. Casimir could also be read as “great destroyer” ie a strong military leader (supposing the mir had been corrupted from mer in order to force a peaceful meaning onto it).

    I love this name, and think Caz makes a cute nickname. It’s such a great sounding name, I think it only needs a big celebrity or a celebrity baby named Casimir to give it a boost.

    • I would like to see Casimir on a real baby. I can’t imagine it every becoming super popular, even with a celebrity baby, but I can see a celebrity inspiring a few to use it.

      I also thought Casimir actually meant “destroyer of peace” when I added up the sum of its parts. But I wasn’t sure if I was interpreting it right. In any event, I don’t put too much stock into meanings.

  3. ok the name casimir has a good meaning, being with it spelled in a different form changes the meaning right? casimir and kazic is different not the same so why is the definition getting mixed up. im really debating on naming my son Casimir but the other definition makes me question while seeing the different spelling it seems its not the same name. im puzzled

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  1. […] Casimir seems ideal for a celebrity baby, perhaps the son of an experimental musician like Beck whose real son is named Cosimo. Like Cosimo, Casimir is quirky, yet smart. Casimir has Slavic origins and roots in Poland, where Casimir is the name of four kings and a saint. The name derives from the polish Kazimierz. […] Upswing Baby Names » Rare Names […]

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