Looking for something more feminine than cowgirl Cassidy, but less elaborate than the tragic Cassandra? Here’s a nature name that just might suit.

Thanks to Laney for suggesting Cassia as Name of the Day.

First off, the Cass- family is made up of completely unrelated names, though two of them rose together in recent years. The Greek Cassandra, she of ancient myth, peaked at #49 in 1990 and stands at #284 today. The Gaelic surname Cassidy peaked at #99 in 1999, a few years after morning television’s Kathy Lee chose the appellation for Cody’s little sister. Today, she’s #228.

Cassia herself can claim at least three derivations, and just as many pronunciations. There’s:

  • KAH shah;
  • KAH see uh;
  • kah SEE uh.

Parents choosing Cassia circa 2009 are probably thinking of the nature name. She’s more subtle than Willow or Sage. She’s less common, too – Cassia has never appeared in the US Top 1000.

Cassia cinnamon is an evergreen found in the Far East. The bark and buds alike are used as a spice. Technically, cassia is not true cinnamon. (That’s cinnamomum verum – also an evergreen.) But most of the cinnamon you’ll find in the US is actually cassia. (The good stuff is more readily available in Europe.)

Still, cassia is no fraud. She’s preferred for some recipes, where true cinnamon is a notch too sweet. And she’s just as ancient – Moses used cinnamon and cassia, as well as other spices, to anoint the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament. Job’s daughter was called Keziah – a Hebrew variant of cassia. (Some have speculated that modern American names like Keisha are derived from Keziah.)

The Chinese knew about cassia, too – as did the Ancient Greeks. In myth, it was one of the phoenix’s preferred materials for nest-building. And while two bucks will buy you a Cinnabon at any shopping mall today, back in Rome, cassia was pricey stuff. Ancient cookbooks mention it, as do temple rituals and medical guides.

But if Cassia’s status as an also-ran to cinnamon makes you nervous, there are two other derivations for the name:

  • The Cassius family was a big deal in Ancient Rome. The Via Cassia was a significant part of the Roman road system; members of the family founded the city we now know as Lisbon. Saints wore the name, as did an American abolitionist – which is how boxer Cassius Clay ended up with the name he’d eventually shed to become known as Muhammad Ali;
  • Spelled Kasia, it is the Polish equivalent of Kate – a diminutive of Katarzyna. Head to Warsaw or Gdansk, and you’ll meet plenty of women wearing the name.

There’s also a county in Idaho known as Cassia, named after the Cassia Creek. The creek, in turn, is thought to be named after James John Cazier, an early settler, or possibly the term cajeaux, described as a “peasant French” term for raft.

Overall, Cassia is an appealing rarity. She’s a possible short form for Cassandra or Katherine, but stands well on her own. Sassy nickname option Cassie makes her wearable for a child. She offers a nice balance of standing out and fitting in, too.

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. My name is Cassia and I am Brazilian.

    My name was to be Eliane but in my neighborhood two mothers had chosen this name for their babies. Then my mother had this idea when I was doing my crossword puzzles and the answer “Cassia” was to ask for the name of “cinnamon bark.”

    The Cassia name is common in Brazil because of the Catholic Santa Rita de Cassia Rita of Cascia or (According to history, a devout immigrant family brought the city’s image Cascia in Italy.)

    Santa Rita is the patron saint of impossible causes, the sick and mothers. When mothers obtained some grace put the name of the saint’s daughter as a tribute.

    In my case my name is just Cassia and is not related to sanctities and thanks but people still ask me if my first name was Rita de Cassia.

  2. This is my name (born in the ’91)! I’ve never heard so much about it, I was always told I was named after a town in Florida my parents stayed in. We pronounce it kah SEE uh and oh lord how I hate it when people say cash-uh. I think that pronunciation sounds so ugly! I’ve only met one other girl named Cassia and she spelled it with a K instead.

    Sad thing is it was the source of a lot of picking on…by my own siblings! But that’s to be expected. It’s definitely a name that stands out though,

    1. The pronunciation here in Brazil is too “kah SEE uh”, but foreign friends always pronounce Kash-uh or Kashee uh. Today I understand how difficult it is to have a different name in a foreign country.

  3. i love the name cassia & used it for my second child, a girl once again. i was stuck on another girls name & upon looking into my pantry i found the spice i love, cassia. in some ancient or other languages they do pronounce it ‘kussh-ia’ but more like a long sounding ‘s’ rather the ‘sh’ sound. i pronounce it cass-ee-uh. i found out later it was an ancient greek name, kassianni as they do not use ‘c’ & pronounced ‘cass-ee-unni’. in the greek community it is usually a name of some of those older, grandmothers & great grandmothers. love the fact it is a ‘vintage’ name re-worked. i do call her cassie on occasion. very pretty name & defiant probably like the ancient greek Kassiani!

  4. I was just reading a book and this was the main characters name so I felt compelled to come on here to see if it had been covered. I tend to pronounce it Kas-ay-uh
    I think it’s a really pretty name but not one I would be likely to use.
    In the book the brother of Cassia was named Bram. A lovely sibling set I think.