Editor’s note: This post was originally published on June 29, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on September 17, 2012.
To Seinfeld fans, he’s the resident of Apartment 5B. In the Saturday morning cartoons that many of us remember from childhood, he’s George Jetson’s demanding boss at Spacely Sprockets. But could he also be among the coolest of the ends-in-o baby names?
Thanks to Lola for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Cosmo.
Two possible negative reactions to the name Cosmo:
- You’re naming your baby after a cocktail?
- You’re naming your baby after the magazine?
Both the drink and the read are short for cosmopolitan – a word that shares a root and a meaning with the name.
In the third century, Cosmo and Damian were brothers, skilled at the practice of medicine and known for treating the poor. They were both tortured and martyred under the emperor Diocletian around the year 283. Cosmo is sometimes written Cosmas, or the three-syllable Cosimo, a name worn by several Medicis in Renaissance Italy.
All of the variant versions of the name and the word stem from the Greek kosmos, which originally meant “orderly arrangement” but was applied by Pythagoras to refer to the universe as a whole. Today, we think of the cosmos as the ordered world, and the cosmopolitan as someone who is at home there. Cosmic is all about the stars, out of this world. The given name predates the use of the terms. Cosmos, cosmic and cosmopolitan were first recorded in the 1200s, 1600s and 1800s respectively, while the name has plenty of use centuries earlier.
In the US, this name has barely cracked the Top 1000, briefly appearing in the years 1913, 1921, 1925 and 1926 before returning to obscurity. But it is a valid saint’s name, and US Census records confirm that he’s been in occasional use over the years, often paired with an Italian surname.
Besides Kramer and Spacely, other notable bearers of the name include:
- Cosmo Topper, the staid banker whose life is changed by a pair of fun-loving ghosts in Thorne Smith’s novel and the 1937 movie adaptation. Sequels followed, in both print and on screen.
- BrighamYoung University’s mascot is Cosmo the Cougar.
- Cosmo is one of Timmy Turner’s fairy godparents in the cartoon Fairly OddParents.
None of these are likely inspiration for a child’s name, but there were 22 boys named Cosmo in 2011. And plenty of parents have embraced the sound for their sons, from Leo to Hugo to Milo to Rocco, plus starbaby favorite Matteo and Spanish language favorites like Diego and Santiago. Is he any more out there than, say, Arlo? And surely he’s more restrained than Django or Romeo.
Cosmo would be a truly adventurous choice, one that sounds more space-age than Renaissance. But he has plenty of history to serve as an anchor, and the sound is just right with the current baby naming style. If Leo and Theo are too tame for your tastes, and even Milo is a bit too often heard, consider raising a glass to Cosmo – a worldly and upbeat moniker for a boy.