Name of the Day: Cassius

Cash is cool – we wouldn’t dare deny it, not in these crazy times. But as a formal name for a child, it’s a bit lacking, unless he grows up to be a cowboy. Or maybe a reality TV star.

But today’s choice has an ancient elegance that will appeal to many parents – and still gets you to that appealing nickname.

Thanks to Lola for suggesting our Name of the Day: Cassius.

Ask most people about Cassius and they’ll say he means prizefighter. Cassius Clay was, of course, the given name of Muhammad Ali, perhaps the greatest boxer of all time. He’s a three-time World Heavyweight champ and an Olympic gold medalist. Little wonder that Sports Illustrated called him the 20th century’s greatest athlete. While he’s known to history by the name he adopted on his conversion to Islam, most of us recall that he began life as Cassius.

What’s less widely known is that Clay was a junior, and that his father was named after one of the 19th century’s more notable figures – the wealthy, privileged Kentucky politician who became a leading figure in the emancipation movement in the 1830s and 40s.

It’s a hero name indeed. When we unpack Cassius’ meaning and discover that he stems from the Latin cassus for empty or vain, it’s almost irrelevant.

As you’d expect from his -us ending, Cassius started out as a Roman family name and was worn by a string of ancient notables. We’ll mention three:

  • Cassius Chaerea was a Roman soldier, remembered by history for assassinating mad emperor Caligula;
  • Cassius Dio was a Roman public servant and noted historian. He managed to sum up the story of Rome in a mere 80 volumes;
  • Gaius Cassius Longinus served as a senator and participated in the conspiracy against Julius Caesar.

If this lot seems a bit too heavy on the assassins, rest assured that several early bearers of the name were also saints. The best known Saint Cassius was bishop of Narni in Umbria in the 500s. He was widely known for his good works and charitable endeavors.

Thanks to Muhammad Ali, Cassius feels tougher than other popular ends-in-us names. We can see a father dismissing Atticus or Ignatius, but considering this one. His easy nickname is another point in his favor.

Interestingly, Cassius has rarely ranked in the US Top 1000, appearing occasionally in the late 19th century at the upper limits and then charting once in 1964, doubtless in homage to the boxer.

Cash, on the other hand, appeared in the rankings in 2003 at #972 and has leapt up the charts to #328 last year. It’s undeniably a hot pick for this decade.

But we can’t help think that Cassius seems like the far more appealing choice for a formal name. He has a lot of history and style of his own. And unlike the fleeting Cash, we think this one can endure.

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15 Comments

Cassia… great name and uncommon. I’d say Cass-ee-a. I also like Cassandra (familiar but I don’t think it’s overpopular). And I like the nn Cassie for either. Cassandra is one of the names I’d consider for a girl if I ever had one.

Thanks Laney, I think Cass-ee-a sounds a lot better than Cash-a too and would sound charming next to a big sister Anya. I’ll second your proposal for Cassia as name of the day, I’d be interested to learn about Athena too – Greek goddess of wisdom wasn’t she?

What about Cassia, Amaya, Melody, Athena, and Kaia as NOTD’s? I know Kaia might become trendy at some point at the rate the other K names are going, but at least she isn’t Kaylee or Karlee or whatever crappy names people come up with. Hana is another good one. It’s Japanese for “flower” and so underused. Too bad she is mistaken for Hannah alot. I knew a Hana in 9th grade and we got along well and I just love her name. Too bad I might have to cross it off my list because it is too close sounding to Anya.

Katharine, I’d pronounce Cassia as Cass-ee-a, but I have heard Kah-sha too. Cass-ee-a sounds nicer to me. Great name by the way. It’s sophisticated but so underused. My boyfriend and I are really thinking about using it if we have another girl. My first is named Anya Regina so we want another classic name to go with it. Still thinking of some good classy middle names to go with Cassia though. Our last name is Martin-McDonald, or at least it will be when my boyfriend and I marry. We decided to combine his last name and mine together. It sounds good so why change it. lol

I love Cassius. I am thinking about it but my boyfriend finds the -cass part of it too girly. The kid might end up being called Cassie by other people. Cassie is sweet for a girl, but for a boy, it would be a nightmare. I still really like Cassius though. Also, my youngest sister (who turns 13 on Thanksgiving day) is named Cassandra and she goes by Cassie so it might be confusing. I doubt she would mind though. She might even feel special that someone is being named after her.

I always thought he was pronouced Cass-ee-us, Cash-us is going to take a while to get my head around. What about Cassia – is she pronouced Cass-ee-a or Cash-a? Oh dear, you’ve really thrown me, I can’t believe I never even considered the ‘Cash’ pronouciation…

Although now I come to think about it, I’ve only really heard Casssius a couple of times and both via the media, so I suppose that goes some way to explaining my pronouciation ignorance. Lady Helen Taylor, a random British royal who occasionally graces the pages of our society magazines has children who are memorably called Columbus, Cassius, Eloise and Estella. Personally, I’m not so keen on the matchy double C, double E effect but lotherwise find the ensemble stately in a Latin way and I dare say, quite ‘cool’.

Likewise, a national radio DJ has children called India, Jude, Cassius and Coco Lux (the latter sounding more like a soap brand than a child but I digress!). Anyway, my (very lengthy) point is that I may only have heard Cassius used by so called ‘cool’ people and Cassius might be a ‘cool’ name – whatever that means, but he has so much more going for him than that. Cassius is one of the few daring (at least in my eyes) boys names that I really like. He sounds dashing, looks eye-catching and feels vibrant and artsy. He gets a big thumbs up from me – as does Lola’s combo of Cassius Barnaby Rex.

Photoquilty, I think your cousin is to be commended for realizing that Cash wouldn’t be a good choice for the birth certificate. Though I agree that “cool” alone is not enough for a child’s name selection.

Cassius Barnaby Rex … interesting. I guess I’m least confident of Barnbaby in the middle spot. Not Barnaby in general, mind you – just Barnaby in this combo. I almost feel like you need something like Cassius Edward Rex or Cassius Willem Rex.

Shannon, I’m fairly confident that everyone would say CASH us, but the similar-sounding (though unrelated) saint’s name is Cassian, and he is, indeed, cass EE an. But I think he’d be likely to be pronounced CASH uhn circa 2008, too.

That said, Lola, I like the idea of Cass as a nickname.

And Sophie, I deleted my references to Johnny Cash – he’s just nothing to do with Cassius proper – but he’s long been on my playlist. Then again, I’m not sure I would want a kid THAT cool. 🙂

It’s pronounced Cashus? or Cass-ee-us? I quite like it. My taste in names, especially for boys, is not very adventurous but I love to see what names others are choosing. Cash is OK for a nickname but I wouldn’t put it on the birth certificate.

You know, Lola, I’m slowly warming a little more to CBR. I’ve always rather liked him, despite my rather lukewarm feelings over Barnaby, but he is very endearing!

Anyway, I adore Cassius. I wasn’t brave enough to consider him whilst naming Oliver, but I’ve sucked it up! DH is practically in love with him, and he’s creeping up my boys list to a top 5 spot! We’re also considering Cassian & Cassiel, but Cassius is definitely the favourite! He’s very smooth, and gives off both romantic and strong vibes to me. Similar to Lola, he reminds me of a never-ending piece of ivory silk..

I have nothing against Cash – though a bit insubstantial as a name – though he does remind me of the awesome Johnny Cash.

😀 Thanks! Cassius is one that appeals to both of us. Him for his Ali thing, me for Cassius Deo (Like I’ve said before, required reading looks like a bore but the gems you end up finding…) I love his elegant stance and his feel. He feels almost silky to me. I love smooth!. Funny how “cool” never once enterd my head. For me Cassius would be Cass more often than Cash. And Cash? Well, I can live with the possibility. He bothers me none. uny you mentioned a Dad bypassing Atticus or Ignatius. In my case, Cassius was my alternative to his Tiberius! (Yes, you guessed it). I want something with a bit of panache up front this time. Just a bit. I think Cassius’ got just the right amount for us.
What would you think if you ran into a tiny Cassius Barnaby Rex? (Yeah, I figure, Rex is hard up front, but he’s lovely in third!). I can see a grown Cassius too, lawyer, politician, librarian, mechanic, just about whatever. Yep, I think Cassius is awesome and I love him.

My cousin named her son Cassius simply so she could call him Cash, because – in her words – “What’s cooler than cash?” I don’t know. I think naming your child based on “cool” is a little lacking. However, there’s no denying that my cousin Cassius will always stand out in a crowd, and will not share his name with many.