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Italian Last Name Meanings

Italian Last Name Meanings

Are you Italian, and would like to know what your surname means? This articl is sure to help you know more about the Italian last names and their origins. Find out why your ancestors had been given the surname that you are using now.
OpinionFront Staff
Before the 15th century, the concept of surnames was not in use. People where usually referred to by their first names. However, in one particular area, there were so many people of the same name, that confusion arose. Hence, it was decided that after the first name, another one would be added, in order to differentiate between two people of the same name. Hence, in Italy, people were given their last names on the basis of four main categories: their places of origin, their occupation, some unique quality, or their parent's name. Let us see each of these categories in detail:
Geographical: Some people were given their last names on the basis of where they came from or where they resided. Leonardo da Vinci and his family were originally from a town in Eastern Tuscany, called Vinci. The surname Di Montagna was meant for those who came from the mountains.
Occupation: People were also named on the basis of their occupation. Sometimes people also used the name of an animal or object that the person used the most in his/her occupation. For instance, Zappa means farmer, while Acciari means steel worker or ax maker.
Patronymic Last Names: Some people were also referred to on the basis of whose son or daughter they were. Pietro di Alberto meant 'Peter, son of Albert'. This kind of surname is usually indicated by the prefixes 'von', 'de', 'di', etc. The mother's name was rarely used.
Unique Feature: People were also named on the basis of a special quality that they had, or sometimes on the basis of physical description, such as Francesco Basso, meaning 'Francis, the short'. Mosca stands for annoying, while Cavallo means someone who is noisy.
Now that we know the main categories, on the basis of which, people were given their last names, let us now see what were the various Italian surname meanings. If your name family name is here in the list, you will now know why your ancestors were called so.
Last Names Meaning or Origin
  • Albani
  • Albano
People from Albano or Alba
  • Albini
  • Albinoni
  • Albino
People with light colored hair and skin; possibly derived from the nickname 'Albinus'
  • Acciari
  • Acciaro
  • Acciaroli
People whose occupation was that of steel workers or ax makers
  • Acerbi
  • Acerbo
  • Acerbis
Derived from the word 'acerbus' which means cruel
  • Addario
One who owns goodness
  • Aiolfi
  • Aiolfo
Someone who is feared like the wolf
  • Arcelli
  • Arcellone
  • Arcelloni
  • Arcellaio
People who dealt in bow making
  • Arcaini
  • Arcari
  • Arcaro
Craftsmen who made wooden containers for keeping bread or other household stuff
  • Avogadro
  • Avogari
  • Avogaro
Lawyers (Italian term - Avvocato)
  • Bacco
Derived from the Latin name Bacchus or God of Wine, this probably meant someone who worked in a vineyard or was involved in a wine trade.
  • Bagnaschi
  • Bagnasco
People from the town of Bagnasco
  • Balestra
  • Balestrini
Crossbow maker or soldier
  • Ballarini
  • Ballarino
People who were good dancers
  • Bassi
  • Basso
Someone who is short
  • Beci
Someone who is old
  • Bellucci
  • Bello
  • Bellini
These are some of the most common surnames in Italy. These indicate a man who is very handsome.
  • Bussi
  • Busso
People from Bussi
  • Cacciatore
People who were hunters
  • Carriere
  • Carriero
Wagon driver
  • Cocca
  • Cocco
Egg or a dear person
  • Dal Monte
People coming from the mountains
  • Di Salvo
  • Di Salvio
Meaning saved by the earth, it is a patronymic name which means 'son of Salvo'.
  • Di Corrado
Another patronymic surname, it mentions a courageous person who takes any kind of decisions.
  • Durante
  • Durando
Its abbreviation being 'Dante', it means to last.
  • Ferrari
  • Ferraro
  • Ferrero
Blacksmith
  • Franci
  • Francescato
  • Francescotti
People who were inhabitants of France
  • Forte
  • Fortis
People who are strong
  • Gabriele
  • Gabrieli
Derived from the Hebrew name Gabbri'el, where 'gabar' means strong, while 'Elhoim' means God
  • Galante
  • Galanti
Derived from the French word 'Galant' which means someone who is in love, or who loves to have fun
  • Giorgi
  • Giorgielli
  • Giorgino
People who were farmers
  • Giordano
This name has been derived from the Jordan River.
  • Malandra
Scoundrel or vivacious person
  • Mancinelli
  • Mancini
Left-handed person
  • Rocchelli
Derived from the word 'Rocca' which means rock
  • Rosa
  • Rosello
  • Rosetti
Derived from the word 'Rosa' which means rose
  • Rossi
  • Rossa
Person with red hair
  • Tiberi
  • Tiberio
Someone born or living near the river Tiber
  • Zucchhero
  • Zucaro
Sweet or good person

These are some of the common last names from Italy, which you will hear quite frequently. There are of course many others besides these, each with its own source or origin.