Cosmo: Baby Name of the Day

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Photo by ganesha.isis via Flickr

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.

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21 Comments

I’m a 23 year old female named Cosmo. When I was in high school we looked up name popularity, and I was the only one that came up in the country. Everyone says it’s weird, but it’s grown on people that I know. It kind of freaks me out that there are twenty something four year old boy Cosmos running around somewhere.

This is one of those names I can’t mention to my husband. If I say, “What do you think of Cosmo?” He’ll latch onto it and say we have to use and then when I say, “Hmm, do you think it’s too much though?” he’ll accuse me of teasing him. Cosmo is so cool and in theory I love it. It’s in my sweet spot, but… I don’t know, it seems maybe too hard to live with. Maybe if it got just a little more popular, not quite top 1,000, but close. I also love Leo, Milo and Rocco. Milo and Leo are a bit TOO popular. Hmm, maybe I should take another look at Rocco.

Sidenote: I was watching the Jetsons Movie when I saw this post and Judy likes a boy named Cosmo!

Woot! 😀 I’m so happy to see Cosmo again! I still love him to pieces and would love to use him. I’m pleased to find the newer comments are pleasant. Means Cosmo is ready for primetime! 😀

I have long loved Cosmo – likely influenced by Cosmo Cougar and Cosmo Brown from Singing in the Rain, and cosmology and cosmonauts are also nice associations – but just in the past week or so I’ve started thinking of it as possibly usable so I was a little excited and nervous when I saw this profiled today.

Our grandson “Cosmo” is all of the above mentioned. He is witty, very strong, noble and caring. We love him and his name. We have had so many surprised looks when have introduced him as “Cosmo>,,When our daughter told us that she was going to name him Cosmo we immediately thought of St.Cosmo.,

My brother’s second of two middle names is Cosmo. It’s the name he goes by as his first name is the same as our dad’s (& his dad’s etc), and first middle name is same as my our maternal grandfather. I don’t think I’ve met other people named Cosmo, and people get a kick out my brother’s name. Having a brother with such a distinct name is fun, and sometimes handy (when I meet people who mention someone named Cosmo, I know they are talking bout my brother!).

I love Cosmo! It’s such a fun and quirky name! The first thing that comes to my mind is the Fairly Oddparents show (that’s what you get when you have kids :)). Not a bad association though, I’ve always loved Cosmo; he’s so cute and funny. I think Cosmo would make a great middle name; it’s a bit much for a first name IMO.

DH, I take your point – marketing guru Cosmo Jones sounds fabulous, but Officer Cosmo Harris seems a bit less credible.

Still, I think it’s an interesting, appealing choice – especially if you’ve got a Cosmo on your family tree! For me, I think I’m partial to the feminine form Cosima – Nigella Lawson has a daughter called Cosima. (And a son Bruno!)

Catherine, that’s an interesting idea – the personality multiplier. I’m off to dust off my copy of the BN Wizard and see if I can find the reference. It’s one of the tricky things of naming babies – my mother is a shy, stick-to-the-shadows type with a flamboyant name. And so she gave me the kind of ordinary moniker she’d have preferred – only to discover that she’d given birth to a spotlight-lovin’ show-off. If we could only swap, we’d both be happy. As I prepare to give my own daughter-to-be an unusual moniker, I wonder if I’ll doom her to be a wallflower. 🙂

I think it’s a fun name, but maybe a little too much fun? I guess the Seinfeld association is really strong for me, but I’d have a hard time taking Cosmo seriously. A great name if you’re a comedian or an artist or an entrepreneur but a bit of a burden if you’re an accountant, a judge, a police officer.

Woo Cosmo! Well, being a little younger, my first association is the Nickelodian (sp?) show Fairly Oddparents. Cosmo and Wanda are fairy godparents, and Cosmo’s a few crayons short of a whole box, so. However, I quite like the name. It’s fun and distinctly masculine. However, I read somehwere, I think it was in the Baby Name Wizard, that it’s a “personality multipler.” If your kid is named Cosmo and he’s cool, he’s 10 times as cool. But if poor Cosmo is fat or pimply or socially awkward, you don’t have quite as much luck. On a wholly personal level, it’s on the like but wouldn’t use, except as maybe a middle name somewhere down the line. I’d like to use more use though. It’s such a fun name!

Oh, and rocker Beck and his wife (Marissa Ribisi) have a little Cosimo (Cosimo Henri)! So how far off track would simpler Cosmo be? 🙂

You’ve hit on exactly the things I encounter when asking about my Great Grandpa’s name online. I find Cosmo to be rather new-agey and yes, even spacey but friendly and warm too. Expansive feeling (the whole Cosmos, hmm?) 😀 Beyond G Grandpa, it reminds me of Carl Sagan too. Beacuse of the space thing. And that’s okay by me. I like outer space. One of the two great mysteries left us (Underwater is the other). I find Cosmo to be happy, easygoing and masculine. Easy to spell, too. That’s a hard set of things to be, I think. There aren’t many names that “feel” the same to me. Cosmo will definitely be the boy name, if we have another. I find him far too charming to backburner yet again. To heck with everyone else, this is what works, for us. 🙂