Baby Name of the Day: Casimir


List of Polish monarchs

Casimir II; Image via Wikipedia

He’s a Slavic import with a certain dashing style.

Thanks to Larkin for suggesting Casimir as our Baby Name of the Day.

Casimir comes from two apparently contradictory elements. Mir means peace, but kazic means to destroy. The original sense is probably something like “one who destroys the peace of his enemy,” but modern parents could focus on the peaceful part.

You can hear both French and Polish pronunciations here. In English, kaz EH meer is probably closest.

Polish kings, nobles, and a saint have answered to the original form of the name, Kazimierz. Neighbors in Pomerania had adopted it by the twelfth century, but it would be centuries until he reached Western Europe.

The quartet of Polish rulers make for a relatively admirable bunch. Casimir III established the Jagiellonian University in Cracow in the 1300s, the oldest university in Poland and among the oldest in the world.

But perhaps Casimir IV’s son – the future saint – is the one that helped the name spread. He was expected to inherit the Polish throne, and even served as vice-regent in his father’s absence. But Casimir wasn’t willing to marry, and spent much of his time fasting. He died in 1484, while visiting Lithuania. He’s the patron saint of Poland, Lithuania, and youth.

A German prince is called Johann Casimir in the late 1500s, and over the next few hundred years, the name goes global:

  • Spanish-born Casimiro Diaz evangelized the Philippines in the early eighteenth century.
  • He’s also found in France by the eighteenth century, where Casimir, Comte de Montrond, was involved in various diplomatic affairs.
  • Born Louis-Casimir Escoffer and known as Casimir Ney, the nineteenth century French composer was a master at viola.
  • Casimir Dudevant was the French nobleman best known for marrying Aurore Dupin – the future George Sand.
  • Count Kasimir Felix Badeni was a Polish aristocrat, who played a key role in administering the Austro-Hungarian Empire administration, though he was not particularly adept at his work.
  • Casimiro de Abreu was a Brazilian-born poet who flourished in Portugal in the mid-nineteenth century.
  • Casimiro is also in use in Italy around the same time, with a powerful Italian-born cardinal called Casimiro Gennari.
  • Jean Casimir Guyon was a French surgeon and pioneer in urology in the early years of the twentieth century.

Casimir had a good run in France, peaking in the 1930s. But in the 1970s, an orange dinosaur called Casimir dominated children’s television. Just like Barney struggles to overcome his associations with a purple T-Rex in the US, I suspect it has put a damper on the name.

In the US, Casimir appeared at the fringes of the Top 1000 into the 1930s, but today is simply unknown.

Short form Cass leans a little girlish, though Cas, pronounced Kaz, is almost cowboy. And if you think you’re likely to use all three syllables, just like so many kids called Sebastian and Isabelle do, then there’s no barrier to Casimir. It’s a great Slavic option with plenty of history and style.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

14 Comments

I just love this name, but the meaning of it did put me off a bit. I agree with Sarah A–I feel I have just enough Slavic heritage for this to work–it probably takes some, but not too much like some of the more well-known options (Vladimir, Vasiliy, etc.). I think Cass is a sweet nn for a boy.

Casimir is stunning! I think it would be a tad difficult to wear without the right heritage, but it still works. I could see parents landing on Casimir if they want something strong and Slavic but feel that Vladimir is too much. Caspian is my favorite Cas- name though.

I love Casimir! I wouldn’t think to pronounce it caz-EH-mir, though, that seems really counterintuitive… wouldn’t it be more like CAZ-ih-meer? Anyway, the meaning isn’t the best and I don’t really have the heritage to pull it off, but I really like it as a middle name or guilty pleasure.

I know a teenaged Kazimir. His family has a Slavic surname that’s quite a mouthful, so he goes by Kaz most of the time. It’s interesting is that his younger siblings have really “normal” names like Sara and Amy.

I like Casimir, and I do think it sounds masculine despite the first syllable. In certain parts of the US Casimir Pulaski Day is recognised as a holiday: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_Pulaski_Day . The day is also the title of a Sufjan Stevens song.

Speaking of Stevens, I have friends who chose to give their daughter the name Sufjan a couple years ago. So far she has no siblings.

A girl named Sufjan?! Oy. I find Sufjan to be a lovely, Euro-fied spelling of the Arabic Soufiyan so I really can’t see it on a girl!

I love the nn Cass for a boy…Casper, Caspian, and Castiel are some of my favorites. However, when I see Casimir, I can’t help thinking cashmere which kind of takes away Casimir’s strong boyish feel.