Deutsch: Cosima WagnerShe was given to three high-profile new arrivals in 2010, but remains surprisingly rare.

Thanks to Alexandra for suggesting Cosima as our Baby Name of the Day.

The first time I heard Cosima was when I discovered Nigella Lawson, the heiress-socialite-turned-journalist-turned-chef.  Her cookbooks and television shows have been tremendously popular, in the UK and beyond.  Lawson was named for her dad, Nigel, Baron Lawson of Blaby.  She isn’t Italian, but Lawson and her late husband, fellow journalist John Diamond, tied the knot in Venice, and their children are Cosima and Bruno.

And Cosima rings Italian, probably thanks to all of those Medicis, though it appears that the family only used the masculine form, Cosimo.

Cosimo comes from the Greek kosmos – order.  Saint Cosmas was martyred in the fourth century.  Over time, cosmos came to refer to the well-ordered universe, and to be cosmopolitan is to be a citizen of the world.

Famous Cosimas from earlier in the twentieth century include:

  • Franz Liszt’s daughter Cosima grew up to marry another composer – Richard Wagner.  He founded the Bayreuth Festival to showcase his works.  Cosima survived him by two decades, devoting herself to promoting his legacy.
  • Italian writer Grazia Deledda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926.  In 1937, she published a novel called Cosima.
  • Cosima von Bülow Pavoncelli is the daughter of Sunny and Claus – as in the fabulously wealthy couple who made headlines when he was accused of her attempted murder.  Cosima grew up to marry an Italian count and seems to have lived happily ever after.

The world noticed the name in 2010:

  • First came Claudia Schiffer’s youngest.  Claudia and husband Matthew Vaughn are also parents to Caspar and Clementine.
  • Around the same time, Sofia Coppola and Thomas Mars welcomed daughter Cosima, a little sister for Romy.
  • To make it a trifecta, Lady Cosima Rose Alexandra Windsor was also born in May of that year, a daughter for Alexander and Claire Windsor, the Earl and Countess of Ulster.  She’s 20-something in line to the throne, after dad and big brother Xan Richard Anders.

Call it the Great Cosima Coincidence.  But I have a theory about one of the family’s reasons.

Thomas Mars is the frontman of alt rock band Phoenix.  They recorded “Lisztomania” in 2009, and the video shows the band visiting the Franz Liszt Museum.  Mars has spoken of his regard for the composer.  Could Cosima have been inspired by Liszt’s daughter?

Despite a flurry of attention, Cosima remains rare.  In 1985, five girls were given the name in the US.  Ten Cosimas arrived in 2010 and eight in 2012.

Maybe it is the confusion over the pronunciation.  In Italian, the emphasis is on the middle syllable: koh SEE muh.

But in English, I usually hear KOH se muh – which strikes me as far more wearable.

Or could it be her lack of obvious nickname?  Following Les Mis, both Cosette and Cosi have seemed wearable.

Other nickname possibilities include Coco and Mimi – the latter is favored by Nigella’s daughter.

Overall, Cosima’s vibe is upscale, jet-setting, international, a little bit unconventional.  She’s polished and posh, but still creative.  If you’re after a rare name for a daughter that feels feminine and interesting, Cosima is a true undiscovered gem.

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I just heard this name for the first time today and after rolling it around in my head for an hour, I love it! Unique, phonetically spelled, good meaning, international, and the nickname Cosi (like cozy) is so adorable.

  2. This name has popped onto my radar lately, and I quite like it. But as you mentioned, I go back and forth on which syllable to put the emphasis. I say either KO-seema, or ko-SEE-ma. Both Coco and Mimi are darling nicknames for it.

  3. Actually, in the Italian, both Cosima and Cosimo are pronounced with an emphasis on the first syllable, just as Americans are likely to pronounce it: KOH-se-muh.

    There IS a difference between the Italian and likely-U.S. pronunciations, but it has to do with the “z” or “s” sound: Americans will most likely say Cosima/o with an “s” sound in the middle of the name, while Italians would pronounce it with more of a z sound (in Italian, one “s” alone makes a “z” sound while two “ss” together make an “s” sound). In the end I believe the difference in pronunciation is a slight one.

  4. Cosima is one of those name I think is gorgeous written down. Rich, powerful, feminine, and unusual it should be high on my lists. But I’m not sure if I care for how it sounds out-loud, so I’m hoping to run into someone with this name so my brain can adjust to it.

  5. Oh, how I adore beautiful Cosima with either pronunciation really. My husband, unfortunately, isn’t a fan, so maybe it will go to the middle name spot.

    I don’t think Cosima needs a nickname, but I would favor Cosi or Ozzy/Ossie over Coco and Mimi.