Mystery Monday: Faian

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is a masculine name from early 12t-century Tuscany, and we haven’t any hunches or guesses or gut feelings. Have you ever seen it before? Have any thoughts about what it’s origin is? Please share!




Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

4 responses to “Mystery Monday: Faian

  1. Brian M. Scott

    The footnote Così l’orig. suggests that the name is in some way unexpected or problematic. Judging by the rest of the document, I imagine that the name is an error for Foiano, the first signer being the Foiano f. qd. Lei named at the beginning.

    However, Foiano also appears in this document as a place-name: in avocabulo Foiano l. q. d. in villa de Curte Vecla. Coping with Crisis: The Resilience and Vulnerability of Pre-Industrial Settlements, Daniel R. Curtis, Routledge, 2016, p. 72, glosses avocabula as ‘specific fields’. The subsequent mention of et in valle de Clane makes it highly probable that the place in question is Foiano della Chiana in the province of Arezzo in eastern Tuscany, Clanis being the Latin name of the river Chiana.

    Foiano, Foliano, and Fogliano are variants of the same name (see, e.g., entries on p. 323 of this book). The source appears to be Latin Folianus; as a place-name this should be Fol(ius) + -iānus, something like ‘land belonging to Folius’. The same construction yields the Folianus as an adoptive cognomen, and indeed Solin & Salomies, Repertorium nominum gentilium et cognominum Latinorum, pp. 81 & 333, show Folius as a nomen and Folianus as a cognomen.

    For the personal name there would seem to be two possibilities: either the man was known by an associated toponym, or the cognomen Folianus survived as a personal name Foiano. I have not found another possible instance of such a personal name, however.

    If the man’s name really is Faiano, I’d be even more inclined to suspect that it’s actually a toponym in origin, one ultimately derived from Latin fagus ‘beech tree’.

  2. Cristina

    It is a town in Italy. The meaning is “beech tree,” out of a local dialect word fajo.

  3. onomastodon

    I would guess it’s related to the Neapolitan fajo (“beechwood”, according to Wikipedia – I’m not qualified to confirm whether that’s accurate, but it doesn’t seem unreasonably far from the Latin vagus).
    There’s a town called Faiano in Campania. A quick Google also brought up references to Santa Maria di Fajano (in relation to a commune in Apulia called Fasano). So it seems possible it’s a toponymic.

    My other (long-shot) guess would be Fa(b/v/g)iano with a scribal error/line-splitting missed letter or transcription error.

    Not confident about either of those ideas, but I thought I’d put them out there anyway.

  4. onomastodon

    Sorry, the previous responses didn’t appear on my phone. I am redundant.

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